Does Garden Grove’s latest hotel development pit a Spongebob resort against homes for low-wage workers?

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If a children’s television channel catches on, there will be 500 new hotel rooms in the Garden Grove resort district.

The proposed Nickelodeon Hotel would be 330 feet and 23 stories up on Harbor Boulevard. Tens of thousands of square feet would go to ballroom, restaurant, retail and arcade space.

The sixth floor would have a waterslide and lazy rice transferring to a Spongebob Squarepants-themed pool deck.

There would be something called a Kid’s Lounge, and the current arrangement is to offer a gourmet restaurant called The Odeon.

Still, one wonders if Garden Grove really needs another hotel rather than, say, housing amid a critical housing shortage in the area and across the state.

On top of that, these questions — and much of the opposition to the project — are coming from the very people you least expect. Those who depend on projects like the Nickelodeon Hotel for their livelihood:

Hotel employees.

“Why isn’t the city considering a housing proposal or at least a housing component on this site, which includes six city parcels designated as part of the city’s overall plan for higher density and residential accommodation? asked Bridget McConaughy of UNITE HERE Local 11, in public comments, when the project was presented at the regular meeting of council members last week.

Response from city officials: The surroundings of the project have a completely different use.

Tourism.

And the project has excited city council members about how the proposed glass-fronted serpentine building can enhance the city’s resort hotel offerings near Disneyland — a market in which much of the city’s investment city ​​is linked.

Council members unanimously approved a zoning ordinance and a new plan for the project site last Tuesday. A development agreement with Nickelodeon’s real estate partner on the project, Kam Sang Company, will have to come back for future consideration.

And with the move, council members also rejected a formal opposition to the project filed by UNITE HERE Local 11, the local hotel workers’ union that has taken a more active role in advocating for housing construction in the Orange County.

And as a result, several union members showed up on Tuesday, calling for housing instead.

This is a problem that cities like Anaheim and Garden Grove particularly face:

Meet state-required housing construction goals to address a regional and statewide housing shortage while a considerable portion of the city is dedicated to resort tourism.

Areas designed for the ephemeral, not for the residence.

The issue caused a political furor for Anaheim in the mid-years and may have started a new era for corporate political influence in the city, when Disney formed the Support our Anaheim Resort (SOAR) committee to oppose to accommodation in the resort area.

Housing also focused on the Pomona Freeway, in the owners of Anaheim Ducks’ proposal for a planned 95-acre campus around the Honda Center: OC Vibe. The idea is to make an LA Live-like attraction up north, complete with shopping, dining, sports, entertainment, open spaces and accommodations.

The project is part of Anaheim city officials’ vision of a full-fledged urban village called the Platinum Triangle, which includes Angel Stadium and its nearby apartments, sports bars and breweries.

The project calls for 1,500 apartments, including 195 affordable units, and is scheduled to be presented to the Anaheim Planning Commission on August 29.

Then he goes to the city council at the end of September or the beginning of October.

“In the midst of a statewide and regionwide housing crisis, hotel developments without housing are inappropriate,” McConaughy said in a public comment.

Allison Vo, a community organizer with VietRISE, questioned the city’s public awareness, “Many residents are currently unaware of plans to build a 3.72-acre resort with 500 guest rooms. hotel on what is currently still owned by the city.”

City staff say a neighborhood meeting was held in April and reported the attendance of 16 people, who asked questions about the hotel’s construction schedule, water use, traffic, noise and community benefits.

“And it is crucial to carry out outreach activities and allow residents to give their full opinion on the project beyond a single neighborhood meeting in April 2022 which only brought together 16 people,” Vo said. .

UNITE has appealed the Garden Grove Planning Commission’s July 7 recommendation to approve the project. Union members raised land use issues under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and called for a study of the hotel’s environmental damage.

City staff, in their report attached to Tuesday’s meeting agenda, said the planning commission’s recommendations are not subject to appeal and dismissed UNITE’s concerns over environmental review.

“With respect, the city needs housing, not a bigger hotel with potentially greater environmental impact,” McConaughy said.

Other unionized workers – mainly in the construction trades – who support the project, argue that the development would create local jobs in their sectors.

Council member Phat Bui recounted the “impatience” of waiting at a gated project site that has stood vacant for years to bring economic return. Now?

“I’m really happy that we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Bui said.

And despite critics’ argument that the area was intended for a mix of uses, council member George Breitigam dismissed the residential vision.

“Basically the city said, ‘This is where we want our hotels, our tourism, this is where we want to focus.’ And I think the city has benefited a lot from that over the past 25 years, and it continues the same process, ”he said before the vote.

He continued:

“To say that we are not doing our part for housing is – less than two miles from this place there is a residence for the elderly for over 200 people which will open in the following month, which month? In old Rusty Skeleton,” he said.

“We have started projects throughout the Garden Grove community with housing. We do not neglect our accommodation. We look at everything the same way.

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