City council discusses ‘amenity hotels’

By Ronald Penh

A Gardena city council meeting via zoom discussed an amendment to the city’s zoning ordinance and General Plan primarily relating to amenity hotels on Tuesday, March 9.

A main objective of the city remains attracting hotel development within Gardena.

Current hotel requirements were adopted in 1990 with an intent to deter motel-style developments without amenities and perceived negative impacts, Interim Director of Community Development Gregg McClain stated in the zoom meeting. It required a minimum lot size of one acre and a parking demand study, a traffic study, a financial feasibility study, and a market analysis.

But the current hotel standards does not support the city’s goal of increasing tax revenue, creating jobs, and stimulating the economy as hotel developers show a mix of interest and hesitation, McClain stated.

On Feb. 16, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on the changes to the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance which primarily relates to the development of a new category of use called “amenity hotels.”

Amenity hotels are similar to hotels except the minimum lot size is reduced to half an acre and they must be on an arterial or major collector street.

The proposed ordinance also requires that an amenity hotel contains a minimum of two amenities such as:

An indoor lobby/lounge area with complimentary Wi-Fi designed and equipped as a social space for guests to sit, relax, eat, drink, and work

Day spa facilities

Outside, landscaped, lounge areas designed and equipped for guests to sit, relax, eat, drink, and work, including common area patios and rooftop decks

A pool or other outside improved and landscaped recreation areas

A fitness center that is a minimum of 400 square feet in size with sufficient equipment other than, or in addition to, free weights to allow a minimum of four individuals to work out at the same time

Event space that is a minimum of 375 square feet in size

Other amenities of similar nature that are for the benefit of guests and located outside of the individual rooms

In terms of trying to attract hotel development to Gardena, Economic Development Manager Spencer De La Cruz noted Inglewood’s success in attracting developers.

“Inglewood has strategically built some things into their zoning code and into what they’re doing to attract developers, and I think that should be something that the city council takes into consideration,” De La Cruz said.

How many amenities should be required for a hotel to be considered an amenity hotel was also discussed in the meeting.

De La Cruz mentioned that developers view potential sites from a checklist perspective and the more things a city requires, the less appealing it is for a developer. McClain agreed with De La Cruz’s perspective.

“Once you get someone, I think they’re going to come in with three to four (amenities) anyways,” McClain said. “The trick is to get them on the hook, so it’s a tough call, it really is.”