Neighbors Fear Traffic, Congestion From Santa Cruz Hyatt

Owners, police and politicians say the hotel will upgrade a blighted neighborhood.

Proposed hotel at 407 Broadway
Proposed hotel at 407 Broadway
Although the proposed 111-room Hyatt Place Hotel was approved by the Santa Cruz City Council two years ago, it will be back on the agenda Tuesday because of a novel new parking proposal. Instead of building an underground parking lot, the hotel will put in elevator-like lifts to store cars.

It will also require all guests to use valet parking at the $145-a-night hotel.

The change was needed after developers found the water table was too high to build the lot underground. The council approved the project by a 4-2 vote, with Ryan Coonerty abstaining because he lived nearby. Tuesday at 3 p.m. it will vote on modifications, including the new parking structure and a decrease in rooms from 111 to 106.

At a neighborhood meeting Thursday, feelings were negative about putting a hotel in an area zoned residential, however owner Tejal Sood and Deputy Police Chief Rick Martinez assuaged some of the complaints. Mayor Lynn Robinson and councilmembers Cynthia Mathews and Pamela Comstock also attended.

Crime and traffic were the big concerns. The area is not only known for prostitution, but three recent murders were committed within blocks of the location, which formerly housed the Unity Temple at 407 Broadway.

Martinez said that Sood has been "hyper-vigilant" in reporting and helping prevent crimes at her other hotels, the Comfort Inn at 314 Riverside and the Hampton Inn at 1505 Ocean St. He said a hotel like this would bring in a better element to the neighborhood.

Sood said there would be 24-hour valets and security cameras to keep the area safe. She and others in the meeting said they wished the 7-11 across the street were more responsive to criminal elements. Martinez also noted the difficulty in shutting down a motel with high crime rates, such as the nearby Motel Santa Cruz, but said that the new hotel was under new city codes that would make enforcement easier.

Neighbors still worried about traffic.

"The neighbors of lower Ocean are frustrated at the city's not doing what they feel are adequate traffic reports" wrote Debora Wade in a letter to Patch. She said traffic from Kaiser Permanente Arena and a new low-income housing complex weren't factored in.

Others complained about the loss of a Heritage Tree, which would be cut down and the density of the hotel.

"I got the impression that the owners are nice people, wanting to build a nice hotel, smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood," said Zeke Bean in an email. "It's a horrible location for a hotel that will forever scar out residential neighborhood."

However, Sood told the audience at the Unity Temple that she thought the hotel would be a neighborhood gem and bring in good people. Otherwise, she said, she wouldn't be able to run a successful business.


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