Concerned about reports that hotels and motels are being illegally converted to apartments, the Encinitas City Council has imposed a temporary moratorium on the construction of such structures pending an investigation by its staff.
The council's action Monday night comes on the heels of complaints from residents and the Leucadia-Encinitas Town Council about the appearance of the dozen or more motels that line the Old Highway 101 corridor. Representatives of the Town Council charged that many of the businesses offer weekly and monthly rates and advertise their units as apartments.
Motel owners vigorously opposed the action, contending that a moratorium would only freeze existing conditions and delay improvements. Some suggested that isolated abuses at certain motels could be remedied by better zoning enforcement.
But after viewing slides of those motels that have sparked complaints, the council decided a temporary construction ban was the best way to go. City staff members will study the complaints and report back on March 5, at which time the building ban may be lifted.
The moratorium suspends existing building permits for proposed motels and hotels, and prohibits the city from accepting new applications. It is the third moratorium imposed by the council since Encinitas officially became a city Oct. 1.