Submitted by Ryan Crane
It wasn’t long after I moved to Coronado that I heard about an infamous local Facebook group. A new acquaintance of mine suggested that I check it out to get some insight into my new home.
Driven by little more than curiosity, I joined the group. At first, I was bemused by the collection of harmless observations about life in Coronado, plugs for local businesses, or neighborly solicitations for help and recommendations. Lately, interspersed among these more benign postings, the unsuspecting reader has started to encounter a collection of anxious paroxysms. The most recent of these is the fear that a piece of historic Coronado real estate might be put to productive use.
The Planning Commission recently recommended against the proposal to provide Crown Manor with a Major Special Use Permit to use the property as a boutique hotel and small event center. Having caught wind of this nefarious plot, a small group of residents used this Facebook group to inundate the Planning Commission with objections to this idea:
- “How will they manage the parking?”
- It seems that the property owner has previously addressed this question, through an arrangement with the Hotel del Coronado. I agree that Ocean Boulevard serves as a glorified parking lot at times, but that is not Crown Manor’s fault.
- “This area is zoned R1A! What will this do to my property values?”
- The City Council has the power to grant exemptions to those zoning designations, hence the current hearings. The discussion of property values is interesting, because it reveals the degree to which this debate pits one set of financial interests against another. A cynic might observe that the vociferous objections to this proposal are only trying to leverage historical sensibilities and restrictive city zoning rules to preserve the wealth of a syndicate of legacy property owners. Luckily for me, I’m not that cynical.
- “Not in my backyard!”
- There were multiple submissions stating exactly this objection, without any hint of shame or irony.
- “Can’t Crown Manor be put to a different use? Let’s make it a museum!”
- I would be very interested to see the business plan for those who wish to turn this property into a museum, or for any other proposal, frankly. Call me a skeptic, but charging five dollars to use the restrooms here probably would not generate the traffic necessary to cover the mortgage, given the presence of public restrooms a block away at the beach. What other use is there for a 25 million dollar, 11 bedroom, 17 bathroom historic mansion? I’m genuinely curious. Perhaps this group of protestors can pool their resources, buy the property, and move in together.
Having taken a brief sojourn through the Facebook comments section…I mean, the collection of public comments submitted to a municipal commission in real life, I have a final observation. Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for organizing groups of people to pursue particular goals. I hope the City Council, who certainly has a better understanding of the pulse of public opinion than I do, will consider the possibility that this outrage may be the product of a very well organized and vocal minority. There are certainly some of us who would welcome well-considered economic development in Coronado, but the clamor of the mob can be intimidating.
Conflict of interest: I have no conflicts of interest to disclose, except for the fact that I would like to some day own a home in Coronado without having to sacrifice both my retirement and my kid’s college fund.
My opinions reflect my views as a private individual and do not imply any endorsement by the Dept. of Defense or US Navy.
8-4-20 Editor’s Note: The author has given permission to use his full name and has also included a DOD disclaimer at the end of his letter.