A planned Paso Robles hotel project that will bring almost 300 new guest rooms to the east side of town is moving forward, despite some residents’ traffic concerns.
City Council members on Tuesday approved plans for the redesigned Destino Paso Resort, which is slated for construction on nearly 40 acres at 3350 Airport Road. The resort will include four hotels housing up to 291 rooms on six subdivided lots, according to city staff documents.
The “primary” three-story structure will include a restaurant, bar and lounge, ballroom and outdoor patios. The second, smaller hotel will be two stories and complement the first structure. The final two hotels will be “boutique-oriented” and will be developed after the first two are well-established.
The project was originally approved in 2009 under a different owner but was never developed, largely because of a decline in the economy. The previous design was more sprawling and included 175 individual casitas, along with a 16-room boutique hotel and two 50-room hotels. A spa, on-site retail stores and a recreation center also were planned.
The new project was redesigned and scaled back, which required Planning Commission and City Council approval. The new resort eliminated the casitas and spa and consolidated other features to allow for more open space and distance between the hotels and Airport Road.
The project’s primary hangup involved traffic issues. The hotel developers will be required to put together a traffic mitigation plan, which will involve directing guests to turn right onto Airport Road and take Dry Creek Road to Jardine Road to get to Highway 46. This plan will have to be proven effective before construction of the second hotel is allowed.
The developers also will be required to pay traffic impact fees, which could go toward a planned parallel route that will cross Huer Huero Creek and run alongside Highway 46. City officials and planners hope building an additional route will take pressure off Highway 46 and reduce traffic.
Even so, council members and North County residents on Tuesday night expressed concerns about hundreds of guests driving on Airport Road, especially near the already-congested Highway 46 intersection.
Stuart de Haaff of San Miguel said he drives down Airport Road on his way to Paso Robles. He said the road is “often a traffic nightmare” and is particularly crowded during the summer when the Ravine Water Park and Wine Country RV Resort, both located near Highway 46, are in peak use.
“This so-called traffic mitigation plan does not mitigate traffic and it’s not a plan,” he said. “It would be better identified as a traffic congestion plan.”
Ultimately, the council voted 4-1 in favor of two of the four resolutions required for approval, and 5-0 on the other two.
Councilman Steve Gregory said he was pleased with the redesigned project and is willing to see how the traffic mitigation plan fares during the first phase of the resort’s development.
But Councilman John Hamon, the one “no” vote on two of the resolutions, said he thinks the city should deal with its traffic problems before building new hotels and forcing residents to deal with additional congestion.
“We can have a lot of good things come into town,” he said. “But then again, that puts the load on everybody that’s here to pay for it, which is not what we’re supposed to be doing.”