A local developer and a Coastal Commission staffer were stumbling through the desert, parched after days without water. Suddenly right in front of them appeared a pool of water -- cold and refreshing, a musical waterfall splashing in the distance. They both ran toward the refreshing water, and the developer started lapping up the rejuvenating liquid. But then he heard something funny: a kind of splashing. He looked up and the Coastal Commission staffer was pissing in the water. "What are you doing?" asked the incredulous developer. Said the staffer: "I'm improving it."
That old joke came to mind with the Coastal Commission staff recommendations last week for the La Bahia Hotel. True, the commission staff recommended approval, but they also added some questionable requirements -- the most head-scratching of these is to provide "reduced-rate" accommodations.
As all of Santa Cruz knows -- but maybe not commission staffers -- the Beach Area is filled to the brim with "reduced-rate" accommodations. The whole point of building a new, higher-end hotel is to provide something not available now.
Still, supporters of the hotel project -- which has passed with the support of the Santa Cruz City Council -- appear to be happy with the staff recommendation.
It just shows how powerful the commission and its staff have become.