Once discouraged in the city, time-share vacation projects were welcomed this week by the City Council.
During consideration of a new zoning code Tuesday night, a council majority surprised colleagues by approving time shares--resorts where ownership is sold by the week. The 3-2 vote specifically authorizes the projects along Pacific Coast Highway in Capistrano Beach and also orders a study into whether the developments should be allowed throughout the city.
The council’s approval came despite a Planning Commission recommendation that they be banned in the city.
Councilman Mike Eggers, leader of the council’s time-share movement, called his backing of the projects “a reality check.”
“They are already there,” Eggers said of the group of time-share projects lining Pacific Coast Highway in what is called “Time-Share Row” in Capistrano Beach. All but one were approved before cityhood.
“Saying you are not going to have time shares on Coast Highway is not going to make them go away,” he said. “I’m just trying to allow for competent planning.”
But Councilwoman Karen Lloreda, who lives in Capistrano Beach and has been an adamant opponent of new time-share projects, was shocked.
“I’ve seen this council try to ram things down people’s throats before, but this is the most outrageous display of abuse of power I have ever seen,” she said. “This is very irresponsible.”
Because of traffic congestion problems and the lack of revenue they generate for the city, the General Plan specifically states that time shares are unwelcome.
Lloreda said a study should have been done about the potential impact of time shares before such a move was made.
“We looked at this without a staff report,” she said Wednesday. “If (time shares) are that good, they will be good next week.”
Mayor Judy Curreri said she changed her mind about time shares and decided to vote with Eggers and Councilwoman Eileen Krause to accept them. Requiring time-share projects to pay a bed tax to the city similar to that of hotels--as suggested in a recent study--would make them more economically acceptable, Curreri said.
“I had always taken a negative reaction to time shares,” Curreri said, adding that the possibility of assessing a bed tax had changed her mind.
Councilman William L. Ossenmacher, who voted against the time shares, said they are an example of what the city was trying to get away from when it incorporated. The council move could open the door to a multitude of time-share projects, Ossenmacher said.
“This has opened the door further than anyone would have expected,” he said.