Boom's loss at issue

The California Coastal Commission decided Friday to take up on appeal the redevelopment of the Coast Inn and the loss of the Boom Boom Room gay bar at a future hearing.

Acting at the request of Commissioners Sarah Wan and Mary Shallenberger, and Laguna Beach activist Audrey Prosser, the commission decided that the proposed project raised "a substantial issue" with respect to the provision of visitor and tourist-serving facilities on the coast.

The property, at 1401 S. Coast Hwy., is situated between the sea and the first public road in the city's designated Commercial/Tourist Corridor, according to a commission staff report. The Commercial/Tourist Corridor is designated to provide facilities such as "hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, museums, specialty shops and beach-related retail uses," according to the report.

The proposed project, as approved by the Laguna Beach City Council, would demolish almost 50% of the existing hotel structure and reduce the number of rooms in the 1920s-era hotel from 24 to 10. Two full-service bars and a public restaurant would not be reopened at the site. The council is requiring the property owner to open a public wine bar, but the commission ruled that the city should have analyzed the effect of the loss of the Boom Boom Room, another bar and the former restaurant on the visitor-serving area.

The Boom Boom Room, an iconic bar, was closed in September 2007 despite a campaign by local gay activists to keep it open.

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