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Know Before You Go: The Se San Diego is Operating Illegally

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  Site Where: 1047 5th Avenue [map], San Diego, CA, United States, 92101
September 29, 2010 at 10:06 AM | by | Comments (3)

UPDATE: See the comments section for an update from Jan McCormick of Prism Hotels and Resorts, who are now overseeing the affairs of the SE San Diego. Currently, there are no compliance issues with health and safety regulations and the hotel is working with the city to sort out their certificate of occupancy problem.

We're no fans of the Se San Diego here at HotelChatter, not after they so rudely denied our request for double beds and we had to have Hotwire step in and assign us a new hotel. Not to mention this hotel has some serious financial woes, having filed for bankruptcy back in June. But this latest development with the Se might be the final straw.

The San-Diego Union Tribune reports that the hotel is operating without a valid certificate of occupancy.

The 23-story hotel, currently in bankruptcy, did have a temporary occupancy certificate when it opened to much fanfare in December 2008. But that certificate expired last October following a protracted battle with city officials over nearly a half-million dollars in fees they say the developer owes.

The hotel also has been cited for other violations, including incorrect restoration of the historic building’s facade, some improperly installed doors and stairway handrails, and electrical problems in the outdoor pool area, according to documents obtained by The San Diego Union- Tribune.

Prism Hotels & Resorts, which is overseeing the hotel's business affairs while in bankruptcy, told the paper that the hotel was working hard to resolve the issue. However, it looks like the hotel's problematic owner/developer is not going to pay up on the nearly $500,000 development fees owed to the city. Meaning this joint still does not have an official certificate of occupancy nearly two years after opening.

This is not only egregious from a business/development perspective (we're pretty sure that owner will never be able to do anything new in San Diego ever again) but it's also a major safety concern for hotel guests. This means that the hotel might not be up to safety and fire codes, putting guests at serious risk during their stay.

Despite all this, the reviews on TripAdvisor seem rather decent and folks report scoring rooms for well under $200. Still, we wouldn't chance it.

Comments (3)

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Points of Clarification

I wanted to address and clarify two misleading statements in your post about the Sè San Diego Hotel.

1.    You state in your article that this is "a major safety concern for hotel guests" and that "the hotel might not be up to safety and fire codes." The San Diego Union Tribune article quotes Kelly Broughton, development service director, as saying, "If the city was concerned about it from a safety perspective, we would have taken more immediate action." The San Diego Union Tribune article also states, "city officials insist that there are no outstanding issues related to compliance with health and safety regulations and that they would never have allowed the hotel to open had there been such violations." As we have said before, our main priority is and continues to be the safety and comfort of our guests.

2.    You also state in your article, "It looks like the hotel's problematic owner/developer is not going to pay up on the nearly $500,000 development fees owed to the city."  The San Diego Union-Tribune article clearly states that "dozens of emails between San Diego building and downtown redevelopment agency officials shows alternating confusion over whether the city has exempted the developer from paying $458,000 in development and affordable housing fees and absolute certitude they are owed." As we have previously stated, we are currently in discussions with the city of San Diego and we are working diligently with all parties to resolve the dispute over fees as soon as possible.

Our customers continue to receive the same luxury experience and highest level of service they have always received, as evidenced by our outstanding recent TripAdvisor reviews.

Jan McCormick, VP of Operations, Prism Hotels & Resorts


great response

I applaud Jan McCormick for the above clarification.  Juliana/Hotel Chatter should be ashamed of itself for posting such a misinformed, biased, opinionated article....all because you didn't get two double beds a few months ago?  Very amateurish.

Story updated at top

Jan, thank you for commenting. We have updated the story at the top to point readers to your comment regarding the health and safety compliance of the hotel as well as the ongoing talks to resolve this certificate of occupancy problem.

3GVL: we still think it's a pretty serious situation that the hotel does not have a certificate of occupancy two years after opening. even if this had happened at one of our favorite hotels somewhere, we would be equally upset.

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