A motel in Port Hueneme has obtained permission to convert part of its premises into 41 apartments.
Port Hueneme City Council has approved a resolution authorizing the Surfside Motel, located at 615 E. Port Hueneme Road, to transform part of its eight-building complex into apartments while retaining 32 motel rooms.
The developers will have 2.5 years to complete the project, which has been extended from the original 18-month deadline. Developers and board members wondered if the project could be completed in a shorter timeframe.
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âWe want the project to move forward, but we think we need to change the conditions so that it’s possible to have a chance to achieve the goal that I think we all want,â said Bryan Murphy, the owner’s architect.
Dario Pini, the owner of the property, initially sought to convert the entire motel into 65 affordable apartments in early 2012, according to Tony Stewart, the city’s director of community development.
The project was to be completed in two phases, but the applicant was unable to complete the first phase within the three years allowed. The owner has only renovated one of the buildings in the three years, said Stewart.
Pini lost the right to redevelop the property when the project was handed over to the city’s code compliance department for not completing the project on time and evicting guests who lived in the motel, Stewart said.
The owner submitted another request to convert the motel in January 2019, but the request was deemed incomplete by city staff, according to Stewart.
Pini submitted a total of six requests through December 2020, all of which were denied, according to a staff report.
Port Hueneme has taken the case to court to seek a resolution on the outstanding code compliance violations resulting from the incomplete project. A Ventura Superior Court judge ruled in Pini’s favor, saying the plaintiff did not have enough time to complete the project, according to Stewart.
Pini then re-applied in May, asking instead that part of the motel be redeveloped into 41 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments while retaining 32 motel rooms. Nine of the apartments will be allocated to affordable housing.
In the next Port Hueneme Housing Element 2021-2029, a document that identifies the city’s housing needs, the state recommended that the city support the construction of 125 housing units over the next eight years.
Forty of these units are to be allocated to affordable housing, according to the city’s housing component.
Given the history of the motel redevelopment project, City Councilor Laura D. Hernandez asked if the developers would be able to complete the project the second time around.
“We intend to improve (the property), to redo the buildings, to rework the sites, to correct the problems,” said Murphy of the motel property. âHe was languishing not by choice, but because we struggled to get our conditional use license reinstated. ”
The property’s residential zoning allows for a maximum of 15 housing units per acre, according to the staff report. The 1.9 acre lot was limited to 28 apartments, but the resolution also approved a density premium to increase site development to approximately 22.5 units per acre.
Since nine of the apartments are for affordable housing, state law entitles the landlord to this density bonus, according to Stewart.
For the 41 apartments, the developers have allocated just 28 parking spaces, with five spaces reserved for guest parking, Murphy said. But the 32 motel rooms would each have a parking space.
Council members were concerned that the lack of parking would force tenants to park in the surrounding neighborhood.
âThe parking issue needs to be resolved,â City Councilor Misty Perez said. “This will cause other people to park in other communities and take up parking spaces already reserved for other members of the community.”
Frank Thompson, a housing consultant for the landlord, said the developers would rent from a number of tenants who do not own vehicles and therefore do not need a parking space.
Additionally, if it turned out that a tenant had a car parked in the surrounding neighborhood that developers weren’t aware of, Thompson said they would either be asked to get rid of the car or had it removed. ‘would prevent renewing his lease.
He suggested taking the five guest parking spaces and allocating them to tenants, reducing the number of units without a parking space from 13 to eight.
Community members also questioned the type of tenants who would rent an apartment on the site. In a letter submitted to city council, David Scrivner expressed his concern about criminals and registered sex offenders living in the apartments.
âIt has been an eyesore and a magnet for problematic people all the time,â said Scrivner, who has lived in the area for 41 years, in his letter.
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Thompson said state law allows Pini to refuse to rent to registered sex offenders.
“I don’t think the plaintiff is going to look for this type of hardship in the community,” said Paul Burns, an attorney representing Pini.
He declined to say if the landlord would rent to convicted felons.
Pini, who owns properties in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, has always violated health and safety regulations.
In 2017, the City of Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara County Attorney’s Office filed a lawsuit against Pini after finding 3,200 various code violations at his properties. The lawsuit also claimed that the landlord took advantage of economically disadvantaged tenants.
The case is still in dispute and the parties met on October 15 when they set a series of court appearances, including a settlement conference for February 4 and a trial confirmation conference for March 7. , according to court records.
Additionally, the Ventura Housing Authority purchased a mixed-use residential and commercial building in Pini in 2019 which was also subject to numerous health and safety violations. Under Pini, tenants lived in small rooms without a bathroom in conditions described as “appalling” by staff of the housing administration.
Brian J. Varela covers Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Camarillo. He can be reached at [email protected] or 805-477-8014. You can also find him on Twitter @ BrianVarela805.