MEGA HOTEL SLATED FOR LOWER RUSSIAN RIVER

Lesson for the Coast, from nearby…..we’re in the crosshairs of industrial tourism.

STOP THIS MEGA 120 UNIT HOTEL/RESORT IN GUERNEVILLE!
17155 Hwy 116, Guerneville
APNs 072-130-005, -007 and -009

Link to Initial Study / Mitigated Negative Declaration documents.  
Aug 27, 2021 Legal NoticeComments on this IS/MND must be received by September 27, 2021 at 5:00PM 

Please review our concerns and submit your own directly to: 
Alexandria.sullivan@sonoma-county.org

Or by hard mail to:
Permit Sonoma, Attn: Alexandria Sullivan
2550 Ventura Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95403 

Comments will be put into the record to be sent to the Sonoma County Board of Zoning Adjustments commissioners before the hearing.

After the close of the IS/MND public review period, the Sonoma County Board of Zoning Adjustments is tentatively scheduled to hold a public hearing on October 14, 2021 to consider the adoption of the IS/MND. A final hearing notice will be issued ten (10) days prior to the confirmed hearing date.

Lodge at Russian River
Click HERE for enlargement. More project illustrations from this version can be found HERE.

June 17, 2021 Lower Russian River Municipal Advisory Committee meeting with project developers; Kirkman Lok, Efren Carrillo, Doug Demers and Jean Kapolchok: 

Kirkman Lok
Click HERE for more documents. 

The various idealized 4 story renderings of the hotel that have been published don’t illustrate the additional stories that will be required to raise the hotel out of the flood plain. This size of hotel will not be nicely snuggled down in the redwoods as the developers would have you believe.

The project was started back in 2018, at least with the county. This was before Covid, our local mega wildfire evacuations and a statewide mega drought and water restrictions. Then, as now, there has been very little public outreach or meaningful consideration of how this relative behemoth will negatively impact our community’s fragile, failing and poorly maintained infrastructure. 

Things to consider: 

Our ability to effectively evacuate a wild fire is already compromised. We have residential road closures from landslides and failing narrow roads that the county has no intention of fixing for lack of funds. Our current options for emergency escape routes are already too few and inadequate for our current population of residents and visitors. The Guernewood park area alone is estimated to have approximately 800 residences. Most people on the lower Russian river rely on a single primary access point: Hwy 116 / River Road.

• We are sorely lacking in financial resources and support for fire mitigation from local and federal levels. Our area has steep forested terrain with numerous neglected, un built, and unsupervised privately owned lots where the homeless are being driven by development, tourist serving businesses and a lack of support resources. Every year the number of fires getting out of control in the woods is escalating. Fire mitigation is far more costly for us because of our terrain and most residents are on low fixed incomes.

Our aging Guerneville sewer system: A sewer main broke and dumped 100k gallons of raw sewage into the Russian River on Feb 16, 2014

• This project is MUCH larger than any other local visitor serving amenity. Our largest local hotels and lodges have between 12-35 available units.The developers describe their planned restaurant/bar as being “small”: 3,334 sq ft!

• There isn’t enough affordable housing in our area for our existing low wage service workers and we are in the middle of an escalating homelessness crisis.

The property has ongoing, unresolved, violations

Just two things noted in the documents of the IS/MND after a quick examination of the IS/MND documents provided by the county:

1. The nearest traffic impact study was done at Guernewood Lane, a short through road with few homes, NOT the more critical intersection in an emergency evacuation for hundreds of people directly across from the hotel. In fact, their map, below, doesn’t match up to the GIS zoning map. or the Sonoma County ESRI map. It has the project site in misalignment with the nearby intersections and ignores the existence of Lovers Lane right beside Old Monte Rio Rd:
Bogus traffic study map

Kirkman Lok
Click HERE for enlargement of the Esri map.

inexplicably, there was a traffic study done at Armstrong Woods Rd but NOT between Rio Nido and Armstrong Woods Rd in Guerneville! This is an area well known as a traffic congestion nightmare and I remember residents of Rio Nido were quite outspoken about their concern with it being made even worse with the addition of this large hotel. Local residents arrange their outings with this in mind and pray that they don’t get a migraine and run out of aspirin at the Wrong Time.

2. The study of recommended parking spaces states that many hotel employees will be taking public transportation to and from work, suggesting they don’t need the recommended number of parking spaces? Clearly no one involved with this project has looked at the the schedule for the route 20 bus that only runs every hour or so. Or perhaps they will have a No Parking policy for their workers from Santa Rosa… if they do you can bet they won’t pay for workers commute time.

Interesting article from Nov 2018: Two designs confuse river hotel hearing
Lodge on the Russian River – Web page apparently updated in 2019
Guernewood Park Resort – Facebook page from 2014

Closest escape route for the nearest residents to the Lok Resort
Click HERE for map enlargement. 

Directly across Hwy 116 from the proposed hotel are the side by side ingress/egress roads of Old Monte Rio Rd and Lovers Lane. This is already a difficult intersection to exit from our residential area on busy weekends.

Kirkman Lok zoning map
Click HERE for zoning map enlargement. Just because these lots are zoned for Visitor Serving doesn’t mean a hotel of this size is appropriate for this location!

Lok Hotel in the flood plain
Click HERE for an enlargement of this FEMA floodplain map. 

Supposed Benefits to the community according to the developers with bullet point commentary, below:

• Not sure that this will really stimulate our local economy: Their definition of “local” is fuzzy. They compare the benefits of this hotel to our area with hotels in Sebastopol and Petaluma. Hardly an equitable comparison.

Their guests will be traveling in their cars out spending “day trippers”, contributing to traffic congestion.

• Again, what is considered” local” jobs?

• 221k is only a drop in the bucket for affordable housing. This money will be spread out across the county with no guarantee it will help with our affordable housing problem.

Same problem with the locally generated TOT taxes: No guarantee that these fund will serve our area except to advertise the lower Russian River as a Tourist Destination.

• A natural emergency shelter? When this location is in the floodplain? Do they plan on providing ferry service? What would be useful would be an emergency homeless shelter!

Residents looking across flooded 116 at the location of this proposed Resort/Emergency Shelter from Old Monte Rio Rd:
Kirkman Lok

• Suggesting that this resort “will eliminate unsupervised and unlawful use” of the (undeveloped) site brings attention to a couple of glaring FACTS:
That as property owners they have done nothing to prevent their property from being an attractive nuisance and that current homeless campers there will move higher up the hill and deeper into the woods to areas that more difficult to access once the hotel breaks ground for construction. Whatever happened to the concept that With Ownership Comes Responsibility?

There is already Public Access to the river from this property. Drawing more attention to this small beach access will attract more visitors and 25 parking spaces won’t be enough. The developers fenced off the property so close to 116 that visitors using that beach access have had to park all along 116 AND up on Old Monte Rio Rd. This will undoubtedly continue with inadequate parking provided.