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Are More Hotel Rooms Inherently Detrimental?

Posted By Submitted On September 29, 2013 @ 11:07 am In Letters to the Editor | Comments Disabled

Editor: Are More Hotel Rooms Inherently Detrimental?

Are new hotel rooms, which create or expand hotel capacity to over 25
rooms, inherently detrimental to Sonoma’s unique small town character?
Not necessarily.

The Inn at Sonoma, located next to the Shell station on Broadway,
recently expanded to 27 rooms. Did you even notice? The El Pueblo, a
family-owned hotel with over fifty years in Sonoma, expanded to 53
rooms without losing sight of its character or important niche in our
community. MacArthur Place built 33 rooms in 1997 and then expanded to
64 rooms, and it has been a great addition to the community. None of
these hotel room additions would have been possible, and none of these
hotels will be allowed to add additional rooms, under the proposed
Hotel Limitation Ordinance.

What about the effects of new hotels with over 25 rooms? The
Renaissance Lodge at Sonoma constructed 182 rooms at Four Corners over
a decade ago. The property could have been developed into yet another
shopping center, as could other commercially zoned properties within
city limits. Which do you think better preserves Sonoma’s unique
small town character? The Lodge has provided a large boost to our
local economy via direct employment. It fuels other local businesses,
has generated significant tax revenue, and generously supports various
local non-profit activities. Hotel guests directly contribute to the
health of our restaurants, wineries, artists, and cultural events.

The stated purpose of the Hotel Limitation Measure is to slow the
growth of large hotels. It would in effect stop the development of new
hotels, and stop the expansion of existing hotels, within city limits.
But there is nothing stopping a large hotel from being built just
outside of the city limit. In that scenario the city would not reap
one cent from the taxes collected from hotel guests. Without a strong
tax base to support city services how will we maintain our unique
small town character over the long haul?

We have an existing public planning process to thoughtfully manage
hotel development and shape or deny inappropriate proposals. For
better or worse, the existing public planning process has effectively
scuttled other hotel projects. Just recently, the Artisan Lodge, a
30-room hotel proposed for the area next to the Blue Wing Inn, was
withdrawn at least in part due to the rigors of the planning process.

I am concerned that a large hotel project could be “out of scale” with
other Plaza area buildings. But I also believe that qualified hotel
proposals should have a right to be heard and reviewed by the public
on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, I oppose the Hotel Limitation
Ordinance and encourage City residents to vote No on measure B.

Byron Jones, Co-owner, Auberge Sonoma and Cottage Sonoma

Byron Jones
Palo Alto


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