He said he and his team will continue talking to the city, asking staff how to proceed. “If there’s support, we’ll find it and we’ll continue,” he said.
What he doesn’t need to look far to find is opposition.
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Zaharoni’s project, or “wellness center,” includes a hotel of up to 130 rooms, with a ballroom, conference rooms and a rooftop deck. There would be yoga, organic food, maybe an outdoor gym and plenty of things to do, he said.
The three-story facility and surrounding amenities would be a “gathering place for the entire community.”
Of the nine public speakers, eight were against putting a hotel at Parking Lot B, a city-owned property just east of the Hueneme Pier. Residents said a hotel would cause traffic, be potentially harmful to the habitat and dunes and would not be successful in that remote location.
The council didn’t signal support for the development, though Council member Steven Gama said that when cannabis revenue dropped — he was referencing a discussion earlier in the night about the industry’s over-saturation — and pension liabilities spiked as expected, the city would need more revenue.
How about those bananas and cars?
Connie Ortiz is a 20-year resident of Surfside III, the nearest residential development to the proposed project site. She asked why the city didn’t draw more income from the huge operation that is Port of Hueneme.
“We should be rich…This city should be wealthy” from all the port activity, Ortiz said.
Mayor Will Berg said the port was already the city’s No. 1 general fund contributor, generating $1.9 million last year. Port Hueneme gets 11% from the port’s gross revenues, he said, compared to 5% from marijuana operations.
Tom King, another resident and a member of Save the Port Hueneme Coast, which was formed last year to oppose a proposed hotel project farther north, said the organization had “no real tolerance for this idea.”
He said he and others worked hard to pass Measure U, a one-cent sales tax increase voters approved in November.
Stepping back for the bigger picture
City Manager Rod Butler said over the next 12 to 18 months the city would be working on a park master plan, to identify what amenities residents wanted at existing parks and what, if any, development along the coast could be suitable.
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If down the road the council wants to put Parking Lot B up for sale, it will issue a request for proposals. At that time, Zaharoni can submit an application along with anyone else interested, Butler said.
Arlene Martinez covers local government and energy. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-437-0262 or find her on Twitter @avmartinez.