Temecula City Council approves amendment to allow four-story hotels in Old Town

Valley News/Will Fritz file photo

The Temecula City Council on March 26 approved a change to the city’s Old Town Specific Plan that will allow four-story hotels to be developed in the Old Town area.

Previously, a 2010 amendment to the specific plan mandated that four-story buildings could only be allowed when at least one floor of residential use is provided. The specific plan separately allows four-story buildings when one floor of office space is provided.

The 2010 specific plan amendment allows three-story hotels throughout the Old Town area and allows up to eight stories for a full service hotel with conference facilities, restaurants and other guest services.

According to a report presented to the council by city staff, multiple hotel developers have reported to staff that “the ability to construct four-story hotels in the Downtown Core is necessary for new hotels to be economically feasible.”

No three-story hotels have been constructed in Old Town since the passage of the 2010 specific plan amendment, city staff said, and staff reached out to the consultant that prepared the market study which eventually led to the 2010 amendment to confirm developers’ statements on the economic feasibility of new hotels.

While the 2010 amendment and the original specific plan make allowances for larger buildings when residential and office uses are provided on the basis that people living and working in Old Town will patronize nearby businesses and stimulate the local economy, city staff said it’s likely the construction of additional hotel rooms in Old Town will provide even greater support for businesses.

The 2010 specific plan amendment assumed construction of an additional 499 hotel rooms in Old Town. Of those, 343 have been built or approved in the intervening decade, leaving a balance of 156 rooms. Future projects that push the number of hotel rooms over that amount will be require to prepare additional California Environmental Quality Act documentation, according to city staff.

A proposal to draft a new amendment was presented to the council’s Old Town Steering Committee in November, where staff were given direction to proceed. The proposed amendment was then presented in April to the Old Town Review Board and in May to the city’s Planning Commission — both of which gave their approval — before being brought to the city council.

The council approved the new amendment unanimously.

Will Fritz can be reached by email at wfritz@reedermedia.com.