Tourists will soon see more lodging options in Morro Bay.
Several new hotels and vacation rentals are in the pipeline for the city, marking a significant increase compared to years past.
"It's very small town, beach town, hometown feel," said Elise Chaney who was visiting Morro Bay on Thursday.
With COVID-19 restrictions easing, more and more tourists are stopping in the seaside town.
"This is the most prettiest place along the California coast to us," Chaney said.
Tourism is an economic driver for the community with more than three dozen hotels in the city.
"Generally speaking, sales tax and TOT encompasses about 43% of the city's general fund budget so it's a very, very important industry for our community," said Erica Crawford, Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce President/CEO.
The city currently has about 910 hotel rooms in addition to no more than 250 vacation rentals.
The Planning Commission recently received a conceptual plan for a lot in the 200 block of Harbor Street for a 5,000 square foot, six-room, bluff-top hotel.
"There was a previous, much larger hotel here, up until the mid-1990s," explained Cindy Jacinth, Senior Planner for the City of Morro Bay. "There was a retaining wall failure after the floods of 1995 when it caused some damage, so the site was demolished."
Jacinth says it's been an under-utilized property for the last 25 years.
"And this would represent an opportunity to really give some new life to this property at really a key location," Jacinth said.
There are now more than 100 hotel and vacation rental units in the works ranging from the application stage to just completed construction.
Here is a breakdown of the projects:
- 205 Harbor St. – 6 units for 5,000 sf hotel – status is application pending
- 295 Atascadero Rd. – 83 units – status is building plan check
- 833 Embarcadero Rd. – 8 units – status is building plan check
- 2790 Main St. – 8 units – status is building plan check
- 725 Embarcadero Rd. – 10 units – construction recently completed
- 571 Embarcadero Rd. – 1 (vacation rental) unit & commercial remodel – status is planning approval in process
"It's definitely a-typical, if you look back at the last 10 to 15 years, with this project to have 5 to 6 hotel developments in various stages of approval," Jacinth explained.
The demand certainly seems to be there with many now turning to the beach for that post-COVID-19 getaway.
"It was about time, you know, COVID keeping us all locked up for so long and everything," Chaney said.
In 2019, $3.5 million was generated in hotel tax. In 2020, it dipped to $2.8 million due to the pandemic.