Submitted by Andy Koczon
The proposal by Mr. Christopher Bower (owner of Crown Manor) and the Hotel del Coronado (The Hilton Hotels Corporation) to commercialize the historic and dignified Crown Manor, a historically designated site, and located in the midst of one of the nicest R1A neighborhoods in Coronado, is beyond propriety and belief. While I am not personally affected by this development, I have tried to imagine what it would be like, if I were one of this grand mansion’s neighbors (see below). Bower proposes to hold corporate retreats at the mansion, with up to 188 participants; along with numerous folks enjoying overnight accommodations, essentially turning this storied property (see the lovely and great historical tribute that was published in the Times), into a Hotel. It will be the ultimate year-round party house.
That said, the folks who are trying to commercialize Crown Manor (Bower and the Hilton Hotels) intend to use a statutory loophole to make this happen. It is a major and critical attempt to make an end run around long honored residential zoning.
Like all things that probably had good intention when written (most likely the drafters of the aforementioned statute had in mind that such residences could be used for occasional fund raisers; Historic Home Tour days, MainStreet events etc.), however, the “law of unintended consequences” has gone into effect. In this case Bower and the Hilton Hotels folks are trying to broaden the loophole by sailing an aircraft carrier through it. I am sure the folks who wrote the statute did not intend for historically designated residential homes to become, essentially, hotels and ultimately, commercial properties. This is probably a question for courts to decide, but if it is allowed to happen, it means that ANY home in ANY residential neighborhood can hang out their shingle. And there are plenty of other streets, mansions, and historic houses in town where this could happen. Is this an acceptable precedent?
Please see this excerpt from something shared with me from one of the immediate neighbors…like right next door. Imagine if you lived in this house and your next door neighbor was holding corporate retreats:
” I have owned 1007 Ocean Blvd, right next door to Crown Manor since 1992, and I most strongly oppose the proposal to turn that house into a hotel and events center. I love the neighborhood and take great pride in owning a historical home here. In fact, in 2018-19 I spent a large sum of money restoring this Irving Gill home, and have planned on living here the rest of my life. My passion for Coronado’s history is deeply held, as exemplified by my previous long term service on the Board of the Coronado Historical Association.
” … (as such) My patio is directly next to the Crown Manor wall; what if I would like to have a quiet lunch or dinner while a “conference” was going on next door? That would be impossible. My master bed room is also on that same side of the house and I typically go to bed between 8:30-9:00pm. Sleep would obviously be impossible many nights, with amplified noise (perhaps loud music?) blaring from noon until 10 PM. Ridiculous. I believe it’s my right as a homeowner in a single-family residential neighborhood, to expect that a commercial establishment would not be imposed next-door to my home. With the potential of having 16 rotating overnight guests, along with daily conferences of up to 188 attendees, I would never have any peace and quiet. This level of activity is totally inconsistent with residential use.
“For the life of me, I cannot see how approval of this request would benefit the citizens of Coronado. Obviously, it is extremely harmful to me as the unfortunate neighbor next-door, whose home life will forever be changed. The last thing we need is more noise, more traffic, and more congestion in our town, that approval of this request would bring. Why in a R-1A neighborhood? Who will benefit? Not the neighbors or our residents in general, just one wealthy individual and the Hilton Corporation. I can’t imagine that members of the Planning Commission or the City Council would approve this proposal if their homes were next door to Crown Manor, and their peaceful lives were about to be irretrievably and negatively impacted forever….”
Clearly every Coronado resident should be concerned about this. Bottom line (no pun intended), doesn’t the Hotel Del have enough rooms, Beach Village properties, cabanas, new rooms (eventually when they are done remodeling) and a significant part of our beach to make money? If the Planning Commission and Council approve this Special Use Permit, it will be a back door way for the Hilton to spread its tentacles across any residential neighborhood they so choose. Now, no one would deny any location, including Crown Manor the right to have an occasional special event, but to turn each into a hotel, B&B, corporate retreat or whatever, is a real problem.
I propose, just because they can theoretically use the statute to their advantage, doesn’t mean that it is right and that the City HAS to approve the Special Use Permit. Clearly this should NOT happen. And that is what the Planning Commission and City Council should decide. While it may be permissible, the loophole presented here must be closed. In the words of Mike Turko, “It Ain’t Right.” The Planning Commission will rule on this matter at their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, July 28 at 3:00 p.m. Please share your concerns or support.
If you are inclined please state your concerns/comments to the Planning Commission at: https://www.coronado.ca.us/cms/One.aspx?portalId=746090&pageId=16889031 by 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday. If you wish to attend the meeting on Tuesday, July 28 at 3:00 p.m. by Livestream, and/or make live comments via Zoom, you have to let them know 24 hours in advance. The Planning Commission Agenda has all the details on how to access the meeting.
Let’s pitch in and stick up for our neighbors.