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Coronado Shores beat deadline of coastal height limit

"Drive by there some night and you can see how empty it is”

Now that the last two giant condominiums at the Coronado Shores development have begun to inch their way up into the Coronado skyline, there’s still discussion of the development. However, that discussion has a wholly different focus from the furor which erupted when plans for the project began to take shape more than eight years ago.

At that time, residents of the sleepy little peninsula woke up with an unpleasant start to the vision of their town turning into Miami Beach West. Although, Coronado’s general plan had called for high density development of the land south of the Hotel Del Coronado residents objected to the proposed condominiums height. Developers however, had completed most of the vital planning work before passage of the Coastal Initiative so the buildings started going up despite protests, although one suit did force developers to pass a public parking lot and walkway.

The protest died as the towers sprang up and when construction started on the last two ( one scheduled for November completion and the other at a later date), no one batted an eyelash.

“It’s a moot question. They’re pretty much a fact of life now,” said Coronado city attorney William O’Connell, who initiated the access suit. Another aspect of life at the development still is generating controversy, however.

Developer J.H Snyder won’t comment on the residents' demographics but knowledgeable observers say most of the units have been purchased by speculators and by wealthy individuals, many from Mexico, as a second home. “I’d say there’s no more than 20 percent of the units occupied by permanent residents. You just have to drive by there some night and you can see how empty it is.” One Coronado resident asserted. The empty units have been empty enough, however, according to some of the more permanent residents.

For several years the more permanent residents have been charging that some of the absentee owners have been renting out their units on a one or two week basis, a violation of the city code, which specifies rentals in residential areas must be for more than a month. City manager Warren Benson says his office has investigated complaints but has never issued any citations and now the city council, following public hearing earlier this month is expected to take some action to deal with the situation.

In the meantime, Coronado residents who don’t live in the development have had fewer complaints. For one thing, the large number of absentee owners has reduced impact of the condominium on the community. ‘It’s just been too short of time to determine if Coronado has changed as a result of it and whether it will effect change in the future,” said Ralph Pray, a retired navy captain who fought the initial plans for the condominiums. Pray notes that since the Shores was developed the city ha gotten rid of other very high density zones and has restricted height limitation to 25 to 40 feet. But he eyes state and federal land a little ways down the Silver Strand. “You have to wonder what will take place in those areas if they are ever opened up to city jurisdiction,” he said.

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