Bonnie Donovan and Natasha Todorovic
There’s a showdown afoot Tuesday? It promises to be quite the circus, as City Council either goes toe-to-toe with one of the biggest developers in the city, or acquiesces. Also in the ring, the Planning Commission (PC) defending their decision while city staff undermines them. Let’s talk turkey. The Planning Commission saw through the “hotel project,” a smokescreen for yet more student housing (32 rooms). They correctly denied the project. Even the City Planner stated the property was limited to 11 units. Ed St. George’s appeal screams “unfair” and “I want my way” to a well-founded, near-unanimous decision based on sound community planning. City Council is motivated by revenues from the Transient Occupancy Tax. This makes them a self-interested partnership with hotel developers. More bizarre, how can an 11-unit limit be lifted and transformed into 32 units? It’s called “TEDR,” where development rights from one hotel are transferred to another. It’s a shell game. Imagine a basket on one side of town with 25 unused golf balls. They are imaginary golf balls that allow “rights” to be purchased. When it comes to putting them on the table, the golf balls inflate to basketball size and are moved across town. Mr. St. George volleyed 200-square-foot rooms on Upper State Street (3714-44), where there is significantly more space, over to 800-square-foot rooms in a tiny area on West Beach. He’s stuffing them into 302 and 308 W. Montecito St. Since it is nearly Thanksgiving, overstuffing is in the air. City Council reviews this at 2 p.m. Tuesday.