SANDS-STILL: Hitches halt La Jolla motel renovation

The Sands of La Jolla Motel sits at 5417 La Jolla Blvd., waiting for a renovation to resume.

Renovations on the Sands of La Jolla Motel, a fixture at 5417 La Jolla Blvd. for 58 years, have ceased due to code violations and a minor labor dispute. According to hotel manager Roger Chou, who is the owner’s son, work “might” resume as soon as August and “hopefully” be finished in early 2019.

The Sands of La Jolla Motel was built in 1959 and designed by Ralph B. Erskine, an architect with Richard Wheeler’s firm who also worked on the El Cortez Hotel downtown.

Beginning in February, 8-10 contractors per day were on site for the remodel. They replaced wood on the balconies and in the front office damaged by termites, and began installing a new sewer line and adding air-conditioning to the structure. Tile was also to replace carpeting in all 39 guest rooms, and new bathroom fixtures and closets were to be added.

The remaining work includes installing a new sewer line.
The remaining work includes installing a new sewer line. COREY LEVITAN

In May, Chou said, a City of San Diego inspector paid a visit and “hit us with a few violations” for not applying for the proper permits. Chou was told that fines would accrue if work continued.

For two months, Chou said, he waited for a citation that didn’t arrive until the week of July 4. Chou said he passed it along to the architect handling the renovation, who will resubmit plans and apply for the proper permits.

“He’s taking care of it,” Chou said, adding that the City “just wants the permit money.”

In the middle of this, Chou reports, a class-action suit was filed against the motel by a former front-desk employee.

“He was working eight hours straight and I guess you’re supposed to clock out 30 minutes for lunch,” Chou said. “He didn’t, so he wants money and he’s suing us for that.”

Chou said the employee brought others in on the suit. “We settled with everyone but him,” Chou said. “He wants more or something.”

Chou said the unforeseen costs caused some initial money concerns, “but we secured a loan and we’re OK on the money part now.”

“We’re doing our best,” Chou said. “As soon as they give us the green light, we’re going to go back to work.”