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Dave Solt, San Juan Capistrano
I’d like to draw your attention to the actions taken against the Hotel Capistrano, being built downtown behind the Egan House. The owners of that property are local residents, Steve and Toni Oedekerk. Plaza Banderas is a competing hotel being built next to the Mission. The Banderas developers, also local folks, are Bill Griffith and Dan Friess. Their actions are harming our city and costing tax payers money with no return on those lost dollars.
As the developers of the Hotel Banderas, their actions are predatory and we should all be alarmed. They are using multiple lawsuits to interfere with another land owner; one they see as a competitor for their hotel project, and are denying the owners of the Hotel Capistrano their private property rights. As a result, they are denying our town an important new downtown resource; one that would bring many jobs to local citizens, bring in sales tax and the important Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT, the special tax on hotel room occupancy).
This one excerpt from the Griffith/Friess/SPM Fairfield legal brief of July 7, 2017 is referring to the restaurant building:
“…the new hotel development will impact the aesthetics of the Judge Egan House”
“…the new hotel development would obstruct the historic town center’s view corridor.”
This legal action by Griffith/Friess will delay Oedekerk by more than a year while being litigated. Yet days later, Griffith/Friess submitted their Plaza Banderas project to the city with their “Building A” being significantly larger than the Hotel Capistrano’s restaurant building, as well as literally obscuring the view of the Mission. The Hotel Capistrano restaurant building is set back further from Camino Capistrano than any other building in downtown, and the Judge Egan House will continue to be visible from every conceivable angle on Camino Capistrano. The restaurant building is also nearly half the size of “Building A.” Are Griffith and Friess applying a double standard? Are they suing only to delay their competitor?
There is a letter to the city’s Design Review Committee, available as public record, from Mr. Oedekerk that outlines a number of similar hypocritical actions from the Banderas Camp. I have been attending many of the meetings, public hearings and events swirling around this project, and it’s my opinion, just my suspicion, that the Griffith and Friess stakeholders are unable to procure their financing as long as the Hotel Capistrano is further along. More competition equals additional risk, and lenders do not like risk. Therefore, as I see it, Griffith/Friess and company have crossed the line ethically, and they are doing anything they can to block the competing hotel.
This affects you—local jobs and payrolls are not being created. Our city is denied the important revenue from the hotel tax. There is no sales tax being paid to nearby shops and restaurants while there are no hotel guests. Other quality projects for improving our downtown are on hold waiting for the hotel/anchor to be opened. Further, the word has spread in the development community to not bring your project to San Juan Capistrano, as you will double your costs because of delays and litigation. This leaves us with only those developers who have large in-house legal departments and can wait it out or slug it out with Griffith and Friess. Who does that leave—Holiday Inn, Victoria’s Secret, Walgreens?
We have to answer the question—will our town be a quality destination, or another town run-over by greedy developers? Please join me and other good citizens of San Juan Capistrano in voicing your opposition to this example of bad business practices.