Submitted by Daron Case
By now you may have heard about a 100+ unit hotel proposed to be built on North Grand Caribe Isle in the Coronado Cays. There are many misconceptions about the proposed hotel at the Cays. Perhaps the biggest misconception, is that there is any chance such a hotel might be built in the Cays. There is no chance whatsoever. In its June 5th, 2020 letter to the hotel developer, the Port of San Diego summarily rejected the developer’s plan, for too many reasons to mention in this letter. However, as the Port is a state entity, they referenced that pursuant to state guidelines, they cannot “unreasonably withhold approval,” and that such approval could only be obtained if the hotel developer gets the “support” of the Coronado Cays community AND the City of Coronado (i.e., the City Council). As City Council last year unanimously approved a resolution supporting the Port’s change in zoning of the land where the proposed hotel would be situated from commercial to recreational / open space (which would preclude a hotel), then the City Council has shown their cards, and the Council will not waver unless Cays residents have an overwhelming showing of support for the hotel. Therefore, the hotel developer’s ONLY chance is Cays residents, which is why he is now targeting Cays residents in a blitzkrieg of paid advertising including a paid mailer to all Cays residents, a website, Facebook page, and a series of presentations for residents held at CCYC and via zoom, etc., with the singular goal of getting as many Cays residents as possible to sign a document demonstrating “support” of the hotel project, that he will ultimately present to the Port of San Diego.
The problem for the developer, however, is that the “support” he needs from Cays residents, simply isn’t there, and it never will be — in fact just yesterday the CCHOA board of directors unanimously adopted a resolution opposing a hotel at the Cays. After weeks of paid promotions, the developer (according to what he told me last week), only has about 200 or so signatures in support of his project. In addition, the developer’s Facebook page only has 57 “likes” as of the writing of this letter. A petition opposing the hotel at the Cays was launched last week and got over 200 signatures in its first day, and more are rolling in every day (currently at ~300 signatures). In addition, a Facebook page opposing the hotel at the Cays was launched last week and obtained more “likes” in its first day than the developer had “likes” on his Facebook page after several weeks of paid promotions. Bottom line, the opposition to the hotel is OVERWHELMING compared to “support” for the hotel project. So the hotel is a NON-STARTER.
I attended one of the developer’s time-share like presentations of the hotel project last week (where he had “plants” in the audience who asked predetermined questions designed to support the hotel), and explained to the developer what is described above – i.e., that the “support” he requires from Cays residents for the hotel simply doesn’t exist, and I asked him about his “plan B” in lieu of building the hotel. His plan B is very simple and comprised of two prongs: (1) sue the Port for damages, for what amounts to a “taking” (i.e., similar to eminent domain) by converting the zoning from commercial to recreational / open space, and (2) entertaining a buyout from a third party of his leasehold interest. While the developer would not disclose a price that he might entertain for a buyout, he did suggest some concepts for a buyout, such as the CCHOA raising their homeowner’s dues for all ~1,200 residences in the Cays, and using the increased dues to buy out his leasehold interest. Perhaps another option would be for the City of Coronado to buy the leasehold interest from the developer, or perhaps the City, CCHOA, and other entities, could combine funds in a partnership concept, to buy out the leasehold interest, and convert the subject property to whatever use they deem appropriate given the anticipated “recreational / open space” zoning pursuant to the Port’s Master Plan Update (PMPU) that is still a work in process — expected to be finalized next year.
So the proposed “hotel” development could be deemed an elaborate bluff, and the signed “letters in support” of the project from residents are designed to increase the developer’s “damages” in his lawsuit against the Port, and to increase the value of a leasehold buyout from a third party. It would ultimately be in the best interests of Cays residents to have a lower leasehold buyout valuation, so it would be in the best interests of Cays residents to “like” the Facebook page opposing a hotel at the Cays, and sign the petition opposing a hotel at the Cays. Please note the foregoing is only my opinion as a Cays resident, this is an opinion piece to a local publication, and I am merely exercising my first amendment rights to advise residents on what I believe would be in their best interests.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Daron A. Case, Esq.