Despite hand-wringing by Chino Hills planning commissioners over the potential impact of a second hotel at a crowded intersection, they voted 3-1 to approve the Holiday Inn Express in the same shopping center where Marriott Townplace Suite is located.
“The Rincon” is located on the northeast corner of Soquel Canyon Parkway and Pomona Rincon Road.
Commissioner Stephen Romero voted against the project, stating he was concerned with the oversaturation of that intersection and the long-term viability of the hotel.
Commissioner Adam Eliason was absent, having also missed the November meeting in which the project was discussed.
The Holiday Inn Express would bring the number of hotels in Chino Hills to five. A sixth hotel is proposed in a future retail center just east of The Rincon.
Unless a member of the public or the Chino Hills city council appeals the plans for the modified shopping center, it will be approved on Tuesday.
The modified site plan represents a 22 percent expansion of The Rincon that replaces a 60,000-square-foot medical office building with the 70,000-square-foot Holiday Inn Express; adds a 6,500-square foot medical office building, a 30,000-square-foot three-story medical office building and reduces restaurant space from 6,000 square feet to 3,500 square feet.
Vice chairman Mike Stover, who voted for the project despite being the most critical, described the increasing development of vacant property on Pomona Rincon Road as a “slow-moving train wreck” and a “snowball that keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
He said technical evidence produced by city-hired consultants on traffic, parking, and hotel viability, however, did not justify a no vote.
“I believe city leaders should seriously consider a moratorium on additional hotels and development along this and other sensitive corridors in our community,” Mr. Stover said.
Chairwoman Sheran Voigt said she had a “gut feeling” that the hotel wasn’t going to make it despite findings from a hotel impact study prepared by CBRE on behalf of the city that demand is high for hotel rooms in Chino Hills and that existing hotels have experienced occupancy levels around 80 percent during the last two years.
“I don’t have a rationale of why I’m so uncomfortable, but I just am,” Ms. Voigt said.
She made a plea to the Rincon representatives to allow drop-off parking for Chino Hills High School to help reduce traffic but was told that the shopping center would have an on-site monitor from 7 to 8 a.m. and 2 to 3 p.m. daily.
Council critic Luis Esparza said it was a bad idea to build hotels next to a public school with all the traffic and drop-off problems. “Is somebody going to stand on the corner of the property with a shotgun and say you can’t drop off here?” he asked. “Even with the help of the sheriff’s department it’s impossible to control, people will do what they want to do.”
He also criticized the potential for a sixth hotel east of The Rincon. “Really?” he asked. “That’s crazy and quite alarming.”
An email written by Chino Hills resident Larry Blugrind and contained in the staff report stated that south Chino Hills has been terribly overbuilt. He asked the commission to refrain from enlarging an already overcrowded area on limited land space that is going from bad to worse.
Commissioner Jerry Blum agreed with his colleagues that the site was “tight,” but he believed the modified site plan would result in less traffic impacts on local streets and less parking demand than the original project.
He said the study shows a high market demand. “If Chino Hills doesn’t get this hotel, it will go to another city,” Mr. Blum said. “If we say no, it leaves us without $500,000 of transient occupancy tax (TOT) that can be used on our streets and parks to improve this area.”
The city stands to receive $500,000 each from the Holiday Inn and the Marriott in annual TOT fees, according to the hotel impact report.