South Sonoma Neighborhood Project
THE LODGE DOES NOT HAVE A LOADING DOCK
Although it would have to rely on daily deliveries of everything from toothbrushes to propane to mattresses, no one involved in evaluating and approving the Lodge noticed there was no actual loading dock included in the site plan. A loading dock has sufficient room to maneuver easily and safely and includes safety features such as a vehicle restraint system. This works in conjunction with wheel chocks. The Lodge service area does not have safety features and drivers do not use chocks.
The easternmost driveway on Clay Street leads to what's called the "service area" and it has substituted for a loading dock since 2001, when the hotel opened.
Calling a driveway a loading dock does not make it one. Residents of the neighborhood have long been plagued by the commercial traffic the Lodge attracts to Clay and Bragg Streets. Former Planning Commissioner Mike Coleman was very concerned about a public street being used as an alley and dock and he asked Planning Director David Goodison about its history during a public meeting, September 28, 2017:
Mike Coleman: The Loading dock is addressed by hotel management only. Clay Street is owned by the City up to the curb?
David Goodison: Right of way encompasses the sidewalk on both sides of the street.
MC: When a use permit was allowed 20 years ago, on 9 acres, and didn’t incorporate a loading dock on their property, was there an arrangement for them to use Clay Street as an off loading facility?
DG: If I remember correctly the use permit was amended to allow the use of that loading dock.
MC: On a permanent basis?
DG: Yes, as part of the use permit .
Whether and when a Use Permit was amended shouldn't be a matter of remembering correctly; amendments are part of the official documents and should be on file. We suspect this amendment does not exist but if it does, we would like to read it. As of mid July 2019, the City hasn't located the Final EIR or the details about any amendments.
In addition to Clay Street, the Lodge also uses Bragg Street as part of its loading dock. Trucks don't have enough room to maneuver on Clay Street at the access driveway and drivers use Bragg to make their turns. City Planner David Goodison was negligent in his review of the Lodge in 1996 and 1998. He didn't notice there was no loading dock on the hotel's 9.5-acre property. If and when he amended the conditions of use and the approval letter to reflect permission to use Clay Street, he was further negligent when he did not prohibit trucks from using Bragg Street to turn around.
There are questions waiting to be answered by the City Planning Department:
1. Where are the minutes from the Planning Commission and City Council meetings to show the permit was amended?
2. Who approved using Clay Street, and Bragg Street by extension, as the loading dock and when? Was it at a public hearing?
It seems to us that turning an "access driveway" into a loading dock was a serious act because there have been severe consequences: Heavy truck traffic, safety issues, noise, parking shortages for multiple big trucks, and pollution.
If there was no amendment to the Lodge's Use Permit in 1996 or 1998 allowing Clay Street to be used as a privately owned loading dock, there should be no delay in relocating all activities associated with it to another part of the hotel's property.