A plan to construct a motel bordering a residential area in Eagle Rock has caused a confrontation between neighbors and a developer who says she will build anyway.
More than 250 Eagle Rock residents have signed a petition opposing construction of a proposed motel and adjacent two-story parking structure at the corner of Colorado Boulevard and Highland View Avenue. Neighborhood activists have led the protest campaign, enlisting the support of residents' associations and Councilman Richard Alatorre.
Developer Yu Yuen Chao had originally sought a conditional use permit to build a three-story motel on the corner lot and a zone variance to demolish an existing house on an adjacent single-family-zoned lot for a parking structure. But she was told by Assistant Zoning Commissioner William Lillenberg last week that the plans exceed height limitations for the zone by about four feet.
Chao, who also owns the Comfort Inn on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock, now says she will build a smaller-scale motel on the property.
"We were surprised that the turnout was so overwhelming," said the architect for the project, Edmund Chang, referring to the zoning hearing, which more than 25 residents attended. "I hope we can address residents' concerns, but one way or another, we bought the property, and we're not getting rid of it."
Cynthia Place Reiners and Robert Murdoch, who organized residents' opposition, said there appears to be no room for compromise.
"We don't want a motel there, no matter what their plans are," Murdoch said. 'We'll keep fighting it on any scale."
A service station is now on the site of the proposed motel. It is the only business on the block, which is lined with older two-story houses, broad lawns and magnolia trees. Residents say a motel in the neighborhood would be inappropriate and unsightly and would attract traffic and noise to a quiet residential community.
Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock is a commercial thoroughfare lined with a number of motels and small businesses that attract customers because of nearby Occidental College. But the neighborhood just north of Colorado is primarily residential, and Brad Sales, spokesman for Alatorre, says community groups and local representatives are fighting to keep it that way.
"Colorado Boulevard is a major thoroughfare, but it's adjacent to a residential community, so you have to look hard at whether a motel is appropriate to that particular community," he said. "We question that."
Chao has 60 days to again submit plans for the motel, Lillenberg said. Another public hearing will be scheduled when those plans are submitted.