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San Diego sues Fairmont Grand Del Mar for $1.45 million

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Posted at 5:29 PM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 20:53:23-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- One of San Diego's most luxurious hotels is accused of stiffing the city of more than $1 million in fees meant to preserve habitat, according to a new lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which the City Attorney filed last month, says the ownership of the Fairmont Grand Del Mar owes the city $1.45 million in fees, reimbursements, and penalties. The fees stem from a 1996 voter-approved agreement that required the hotel to pay as much as $6.3 million for habitat preservation in return for the right to build the 300-room hotel, 124 homes, and 18-hole golf course. The money would come as a share of room nights and a percentage of HOA fees.

"We thought it was a good bargain," said Lisa Ross, a member of the Carmel Valley Planning Group at the time of the deal. "These funds were for acquisition, so the city has an opportunity here to acquire more protected open space and habitat and there's more to purchase."

ABC 10News has reached out to the attorney representing the Fairmont Grand Del Mar and is waiting for a response.

In a statement, City Attorney Mara Elliott said the city will seek its share of the fees.

“We expect every San Diego business to play by the same rules and pay the same fees required for development and habitat restoration under the law,” she said. “When the hotel inexplicably declined to pay its fair share, our office stepped in to hold them accountable and recover funds owed to the City.”

Developer Westshaw Associates built the property after voter approval, but the property is now under different ownership.