Fire Guts Disputed Hotel / Half Moon Bay onlookers cheer $2 million blaze

By PETE BENNETT - Contra Costa Watch EMAIL
Phone: 510-460-5641
Posted: 10/28/2013

Reposted to Protect My Sons

Walnut Creek CA: On this blog you'll find many posting about arson or fires.  IN 2004 my truck was in flames on NB 680 just North of El Cerro Blvd. Danville CA.  At the time I was in a contentious divorce dealing with endless "bumps in the night", my ABS System was rigged nearly flipping me near my cabinet shop on Lopes Road Fairfield, my attorney was beat up in Walnut Creek but when I connected the CNET/SWAT teams to a 25 million dollar Ponzi Scheme connected my attorneys office at 1776 Ygnacio Valley I realized something was wrong in Walnut Creek CA.  

In review of the disastrous Kinder Morgan Fire , the murder arson of Eiko Sugihara which is highly important as tips in that case were buried when the Contra Costa County Sheriff's department posted 925-313-2623

Fire Guts Disputed Hotel / Half Moon Bay onlookers cheer $2 million blaze

Published 4:00 am, Saturday, April 27, 1996
As onlookers cheered, a quick-burning fire that appears to have been deliberately set destroyed a controversial hotel and condominium project under construction in Half Moon Bay early yesterday, causing losses estimated at $2 million.
The blaze followed months of protests from area residents who complained that the three-story, 54-unit structure would block views of the ocean for about 100 nearby homeowners as well as for motorists driving along Highway 1.
The owner of the hotel, well-known Palo Alto developer, Chop Keenan, called the fire an act of terrorism and blasted local residents who were seen shouting their approval as the blaze reduced the building to ashes.
"I got to tell you the hard part of this is seeing moms taking kids to the site and yelling, 'Burn, baby, burn,' " said Keenan, who took over as sole owner just last week. "It is a community value that I have never in my life witnessed. I never saw people honking for terrorism, but I saw it today."
Keenan, who said he has no doubt it was arson, vowed to have his construction crews back on site Monday to start rebuilding.
"I'll have two crews a day on it, and we will build it on time and on budget," Keenan said. "I expect it to be completed by November 1."
Fire Chief Ron Delgado said the three-alarm fire started about 12:15 a.m. When firefighters arrived, most of the half-finished hotel was engulfed in flames. The hotel is "now totally destroyed and will have to be bulldozed and started over," Delgado said.
Because there was no gas or electric power to the site, Half Moon Bay fire officials immediately suspected arson and called in agents of the federal Alcohol, Tobacco andFirearms agency.
Arson was confirmed late yesterday afternoon with the aid of a dog trained to sniff out accelerants, a source told The Chronicle. The preliminary conclusion is that gasoline was used.
There was no injury to spectators or to the 60 firefighters who responded, Delgado said. The fire was under control within 45 minutes. The building occupied 1.58 acres west of Highway 1 on the north edge of Half Moon Bay.
Hundreds of residents gathered on bluffs and beaches to watch as the flames consumed the building overlooking Pillar Point Harbor, witnesses said.
"The whole sky was lit up, and you could feel the heat from 300 yards away," said Kit Dove, who lives in El Granada. "There was a lot of hooting and hurrahing. I think the general feeling of the crowd was they were glad to have their view back, if only for a little while."
Morgan Walford of El Granada agreed. "There were a lot of smiling faces around. . . . Vigilantism is a slippery and dangerous way to go, but on the other hand, I think businesses and developers and the planning commission need to be more responsive to people's wishes. As this hotel continued to go up, people got more unhappy."
The original application to build the hotel was submitted in 1988 and it moved quietly through the planning process until receiving a permit to build last Oct. 27. But its developer, Robert Marchant, ran into financial difficulties, according to Half Moon Bay City Councilman Dennis Coleman, a critic of the project.
Keenan, who was embroiled in controversy last year over his plan to renovate the historicVarsity Theater in Palo Alto, said he became a partner in the hotel's development with Marchant last November and took it over completely last week when it closed escrow. He said they added condominium ownership to the hotel plan in order to secure financing.
Under a time-share setup, condominium owners would be free to use residences for a maximum of 90 days a year, and the rest of the time the units would be rented, said Ed Wohlenberg, Half Moon Bay's interim city manager. "It is a despicable act if it is indeed arson," he said. "It is no way to do business."
Deborah Ruddock, Half Moon Bay's mayor said: "We abhor this kind of lawbreaking, and everyone is going to work to find the perpetrators. That aside, this was a very controversial project that seemed to escape much public attention until construction began, and I personally have not had so many comments and complaints about anything since I have been on the council."

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