Newport Beach hotel project to benefit Dunes area

LONG BEACH — Plans for a boutique hotel on Lido Isle in Newport Beach were approved by the California Coastal Commission during its October meetings in Long Beach. The proposed hotel could benefit recreational boating differently than other similar projects proposed in places such as Marina del Rey or San Diego’s Shelter Island.

A developer earned the commission’s blessing on Oct. 7 to go forward with plans to build Lido House Hotel. The approval came with a condition to fund an outdoor educational program for students known as Fostering interest in Nature (FiiN).

“The program would focus on fifth and sixth grade classes from Title 1 inland schools, and provide a four-day, three-night minimum stay in tents or cabins for the students to engage in coastal-related education,” commission staff stated. “The program would include water-oriented recreational activities such as kayaking, boating, swimming or surfing, etc. The educational component would focus on ocean safety, coastal and marine ecology, coastal hazards, and/or other coastal-related topics.”

FiiN would service between 360 to 420 students annually during the next 10 years, according to commission staff. Students would take up overnight accommodations at Newport Dunes Back Bay.

Lido House Hotel’s developer, R.D. Olsen Development, must pay a $1.4 million in-lieu fee to FiiN’s endowment and established by a Coastal Commission determination to mitigate the proposed project’s lack of low-cost rooms.

The commission calculated the in-lieu fee by multiplying $42,120 per unit to 25 percent of the rooms proposed by the project, then adding a 5 percent administrative fee. Lido House Hotel is proposed to be a 130-room project, meaning 32 rooms were used to determine a bulk of the in-lieu fee.

The specific fee payment was set at $1,415,232.

“The condition requires the funds be used for lower cost overnight visitor-serving accommodations,” commission staff stated. “If the funds are to be used for the FiiN program the funds would be used for the expenses related to the overnight stays and coastal-dependent recreational opportunities such as kayaking, boating, etc.”

There was some concern of how FiiN would continue once the $1.4 million dried up after 10 years of use. Coastal Commission staff stated the city of Newport Beach hopes to expand the program and seek additional funding sources.

“The city has indicated the program operation may be expanded to accommodate more children and/or more campsites and/or additional times of the year upon the availability of additional interest, grants, private funding, etc.,” commission staff stated. “Future funding sources would contribute to sustaining the program for a longer duration, and expanding the program to accommodate more children per week or expand the program into other seasons. Such expansion opportunities may be developed as part of the city’s certified LCP as a potential use of mitigation funds.”

FiiN would cost about $110,000 per year to operate.

“A preliminary budget estimate for a four-day and three-night camp experience for approximately 420 students (one group of 35 students per week, for twelve weeks) is approximately $110,000 per year. The cost per child would be approximately $260-$305; however the cost to the child’s family and/or school district would be nominal,” commission staff stated.

Newport Beach will establish a $975,000 endowment to initially fund the program.

Commissioners approved project plans by a 10-2 vote. Construction on the proposed project could begin at some point in 2016; a final vote on the project still needs to be lodged by the Newport Beach City Council.

Lido House Hotel would be one of the proposed projects aiming to revitalize Newport Beach’s Lido Marina Village area, which plans to include 47 slips on the harbor for boaters. The proposed hotel is being built near the land where Newport Beach’s previous City Hall stood before moving to the Fashion Island area in 2013

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