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Another hotel project pitched for Healdsburg

Plans have surfaced for a second new hotel in downtown Healdsburg as debate grows over how much more visitor lodging should be built in the favored Wine Country destination.

Just a week after an application was withdrawn for a controversial five-story, 75-room hotel a half block south of Healdsburg Plaza, another group of developers is proposing a smaller hotel on a parking lot across the street.

Circe Sher, a managing partner in the Hotel Healdsburg and H2 Hotel, said her company wants to build another hotel and expects to formally submit plans to the city in about a month.

She initially said the four-story hotel would have around 40 rooms, but later said the number is being recalculated because the lot is smaller than first believed.

The proposal comes as City Council members are being urged by some residents to clamp down on hotel construction downtown.

If the council doesn't act, some residents are considering a ballot measure to limit the size of hotels, similar to an initiative before voters Tuesday in the City of Sonoma.

“I think the city should either ban hotels, or severely limit the number of rooms and hotels in the downtown business district,” said Bruce Abramson, a mortgage broker and former Healdsburg park and recreation commissioner worried about the loss of small-town character.

Traffic backups on Healdsburg Avenue and lack of downtown parking, he said “get worse every year due to this tourist tsunami we are having.”

City Council members acknowledge some of the city's parking policies need to be re-examined to ensure new development provides enough parking.

And city officials also have mentioned possibly building a municipal parking garage at some point using fees levied on new projects.

City Manager Marjie Pettus said she is in the process of hiring a consultant to perform a market analysis of lodging.

“We want to have objective data on demand, market capacity, room rates and type of lodging,” she said.

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