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SOUTH BEACH: LAGUNA BEACH

Groups to Meet on Treasure Island Plan

April 14, 1998|LIZ SEYMOUR

Facing continued opposition, backers of a plan to redevelop Treasure Island mobile home park into a luxury resort are meeting with community activists to win support for the project.

The proposal, which includes a 100-room hotel, 25 villas, 37 houses and a bluff-top park, will be reviewed by the City Council on April 28. City officials have requested that the groups try to resolve their differences before the meeting.

Mayor Steve Dicterow said it was possible but unlikely that the redevelopment plan would be approved at the council meeting because of the opposition.

"We want broad-based community support for this," Dicterow said.

Much of the debate revolves around the inclusion of homes on the resort site, which has spectacular oceanfront views, at the southern end of the city. City officials already have persuaded Merrill Lynch, the landowner, to scale back its original plan of 268 homes to the current 37. The New York investment firm won't eliminate any more.

"It jeopardizes the financial viability of the project," said Jack Cuneo, a Merrill Lynch executive overseeing the plan for Treasure Island.

But the project also faces scrutiny by the California Coastal Commission, which prefers "visitor-serving uses" to residential development, local environmentalists and other opponents said.

"We would like to see the resort be the subject of the design, and not the houses," said Becky Jones, a spokeswoman for Village Laguna, a civic group.

Another alternative for the 30-acre site is a conference center and public gardens, but city officials have rejected that idea because it would not generate as much tax revenue as a hotel.

There are other changes to the project that are likely to be well-received by the opposition, including lower limits on the resort's height and a bigger public park.

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