Santa Monica hotel built without permits can remain open

LOS ANGELES — A Santa Monica beachfront hotel built without proper permits and fined nearly $15.6 million will be allowed to remain open.

After hours of debate the California Coastal Commission voted 7-5 Thursday to approve after-the-fact permits for the Shore Hotel, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

In exchange, the hotel’s developer agreed to create a “micro hotel” within the Shore resort that overlooks Santa Monica Pier. The resort will include 72 rooms priced no higher than $180 a night, waive $25 resort fees for guests in those rooms and limit their nightly parking fees to $25.

The developer, Sunshire Enterprises, still has to pay the nearly $15.6 million fine and must also cover $2.3 million in mitigation fees. The fine issued in May for opening the hotel without proper permits is a record for the commission.

The dispute began after the commission, which oversees development along California’s coast, granted Sunshine approval in 2009 to demolish two aging, moderately priced hotels containing a total of 87 rooms. They were to be replaced with a new hotel that commissioners were promised would also be affordable in a tourist area where inexpensive hotels are rare.

But after the demolition permits expired the developer built a 164-room resort hotel with two restaurants, a pool, a gym, a meeting space and rooms ranging in price from $265 to $800 a night, the Times said. Parking fees were $43 a night.

In seeking permit approval Thursday, the developer originally proposed adding a 14-bed, low-cost hostel with nightly rates topping out at $52. After commissioners said that was insufficient, the hotel agreed to turn the 14-bed hostel into a micro-hotel.

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