Corte Madera wise to review policies for approving hotels

Updated: Jun 2, 2018

POSTED: 02/28/18, 10:41 AM PST

Publication: Marin Independent Journal: Editorial

Plans for renovation of the Best Western Corte Madera Inn are in limbo. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)


A well-run hotel is one of those businesses that just keeps on giving.

Hotels generate lodging taxes and visitors who also patronize local stores and restaurants, which support jobs.

Corte Madera estimates that the four hotels in town generate about $1 million in annual revenue for the town.

That includes more than $800,000 collected from the town’s 12 percent lodging tax. Two percent goes to the county’s tourism bureau, 2 percent to the Corte Madera Chamber of Commerce and 8 percent goes for town services.

That’s why town officials are taking another look at their planning rules for hotels, possibly loosening restrictions on the number of rooms. They are considering enacting incentives for hotels to expand by meeting the town’s clean-energy goals and including community-serving amenities, such as a restaurant.

Renovation plans for two local hotels have failed to win town approval, including the Best Western Corte Madera Inn where expansion plans remain in limbo due to controversy over its design and an ongoing and costly debate over the future of the pond on the property.

While both proposals have had trouble winning Planning Commission approval, the council appears to be sending a different message, expressing support for taking a new look at the town’s development restrictions on hotels — among the tightest in the county.

Meanwhile, local lodging owners’ interest in expanding and renovating their lodgings reflects an underserved local need for more rooms.

The Town Council’s message is that it wants Corte Madera to be more open to hotels’ plans. Corte Madera is not alone; the Novato City Council last year agreed to consider relaxing its size limits, specifically for the North Redwood Boulevard area.

Planning restrictions and a risky approval process are two factors both Corte Madera and Novato need to consider.

It is important that proposals are appropriate in design and size for their locations. It is also important that the town provides clarity in its expectations — reflecting the community’s priorities — so proposals are not caught in costly planning battles.

The Corte Madera Town Council is wisely taking a fresh look at its policies, recognizing the importance of lodging as a convenience and a way to generate tax revenue.

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