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El Camino Motel Demolition Begins

The motel that opened in the 1960s will be completely torn down within the next 10 days, the property owner said.

Updated at 6:25 p.m. to include additional information from real estate agent Brian Stewart and 7:10 p.m. to include thoughts from Alex Adams who lives next to the hotel.

As construction work continues to finish a new hotel on Seacoast Drive, workers on the city's northern tip are tearing down a decades old motel.

Demolition of the El Camino Motel and the Little Vienna Lounge started Monday, said property owner Dunham and Associates.

Caneles Demolition, the company that is tearing down the motel, is expected to finish reducing the property to a vacant lot by Oct. 12.

The motel's second story is already gone.

"The demo will be completed and the property will be sold," said Holly Lunde with Dunham and Associates.

The motel was used in the short lived HBO series John from Cincinnati.

Calling the property a public nuissance, in June the City of Imperial Beach ordered the motel be demolished.

According to the city, San Diego County Sheriff's Department deputies responded to more than 50 calls for service a year at the location in the past five years.

An inspection by the city in July found one of the building's staircases had collapsed and other portions of the building could collapse as well. Toilets were used as fire pits, "transient camps" squatted in old rooms and people rode skateboards and bikes in the empty pool until 2009 when a steel plate was installed.

According to U-T San Diego, the hotel was built in 1960 and ceased operations in 2007.

Real estate agent Brian Stewart acted as the property's realtor until recently. He said he received a few emails from local residents protesting the demolition.

"They were sort of steadfast that they wanted it to stay," he said Tuesday afternoon. "I think they're still in the John from Cincinnati days."

At an Aug. 1 meeting, Stewart told the Imperial Beach City Council he had received interest from people who wanted to buy the motel for its nostalgic value, but a lack of flexibility from the city was a problem.

Imperial Beach City Council candidate Valeria Acevez also said she was disappointed to see the hotel go.

Alex Adams, 23, has lived on 7th Street behind the motel for 12 years and is happy to see the El Camino being torn down. Not because of the crime or attention from the sheriff's department, he said. That didn't affect his life. It's time for something new.

"It was just taking up a big old thing of space," he said. "Hopefully they can make some apartments back there or something."

Adams continued to say he would like to see shops, a restaurant or even another motel or hotel built at 550 State Route 75.

"Just something decent where people can come out and enjoy themselves," he said.

Did you ever stay in the El Camino? What are your memories of the motel? Is it a good or bad thing that the motel is being demolished? Share in comments.

Ms. Ida & Mauli October 03, 2012 at 04:49 AM
I will guarantee that our local realtors are behind this... This is all planned, no accident here. hmm.....owners pay for demolition....probly costs alot our local hutchins realtors get dirt cheap price for lot. Sit on it for a bit sell to city or port for triple. pretty good gamble
Marcus Boyd October 03, 2012 at 05:39 AM
A little birdie told me that the mobile home park located behind the old hotel quietly went up for sale just before the council took action... What a coincidence! I guess some old RDA habits are hard to break...
Tony Leombruno October 03, 2012 at 01:38 PM
A business in the vacant space to compliment the RV park could be a profit center. There aren't many nice RV parks around any longer. This location is ideal for travelers. This would be compatible with the new hotel, restaurants, strip malls on Palm and those being built and the development of the Seacoast area. Tourism could flourish. Tourists would bring in lots of business and taxes. The ocean, weather and climate are endless pulls for residents in nearby states as well as all over the country.
iblocal October 03, 2012 at 01:45 PM
very sad! very very sad!
Marcus Boyd October 03, 2012 at 01:50 PM
When it sang, the little birdie sang a song of bye bye to the RV park... Then, the birdie sang a need increase in the city's height limit. The song sounded vacation'ish condo'ish to me.
Jon Hall October 03, 2012 at 02:45 PM
I heard the property will be used as a Phase 2 type of project to compliment the development of 9th & Palm They are going to call it "Empty Field 2" ...
IBREM October 03, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Very sad - very sad...but lets move on IB...I have never stayed there, but have seen it for decades and live close by, whomever buys or gets it we shall see what happens. Also interesting about Bernardo Shores, the above is correct, not many adult RV parks around, it would make sense to expand Bernardo, I think it would be a small impact on the environment and IB.
John Galt October 03, 2012 at 07:03 PM
I would like to build a mini storage and RV storage on the site. Would make good neighbors.
Erika Lowery October 03, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Marcus, Do you have a crystal ball? I have to admit, when the question came up during the Chamber debate, I got a gut feeling that someone was testing the water. I am against vacation condos for that area or any other part of Imperial Beach. I have seen the "eu de skunk" that the Moroccan Monstrosity caused in Coronado. It would be nice to have a secondary hotel to complement South Pier but on the bay, but I will only examine once South Pier has some history.
Imperial Beach Resident October 04, 2012 at 06:56 AM
The El Camino Motel was an IB LANDMARK. It had character and represented the IB community. IB is NOT the monstrasity being built on Seacoast. I agree with others....."someone" has a plan. It is up to the residents of IB to regain control and maintain this community. I am not against growth. I am against strippping IB of IB. I am not a person who attends "meetings" of any kind, but I realize this is the only way to monitor. So, I beg those of you who want to keep IB IB, join me in attending all those "meetings" posted in the Eagle Times and let's take IB back. And those of you who have money, why not join together and raise the El Camino back to its "fabulous~ness".
Chico&The Man October 05, 2012 at 02:07 AM
i stayed ther in 1979 while visiting some friends boy Ib was a different world back then man the parking lot @ the pier were the grass is was like a grateful dead lot scene.. the place was the type of motel you would run into the Griswalds on any given summer weekend..and for a while in the late 80's there were scagly ass ladies being pimped outta there too hows that for a little historcal knwledge...aside from that i scored a 1/4 lb of weed there in high school from some random heads i knew..thats about it..
AMERIKANISCH December 21, 2012 at 07:04 AM
My late uncle- Robert Cooke- and aunt Annie owned the El Camino. I believe they even had it built. My cousin sold it after they died. I never stayed there but dropped by a few times. The Vienna Lounge was in honor if my aunt -a native of Austria.
Frank from Queens February 11, 2013 at 10:54 PM
I had dreams of buying and relocating to imperial beach! I would've torn down Room 24 for sure, what a location. JFC forever. I had a great Roy Rogers recipe too!
Leah Stephens February 21, 2013 at 09:27 PM
I made a series of photo collage postcards at the El Camino Motel, knowing it would be gone one day. These were done for no clear purpose other than amusement. http://leahstephens.weebly.com/postcards.html
Tom Alkire May 30, 2013 at 07:51 PM
I stayed at the El Camino for a couple of days while on vacation, my first time ever in San Diego. I was travelling solo and aimlessly and decided to find a place for the night. I happened upon this place and woke up the poor old woman at around two in the morning. She checked me in and gave me the key, I went upstairs and noticed that the entry door was a sliding glass door. A very interesting first for me. I unlocked the door and woke up a guy who had already been checked into the room! We nearly gave each other a heart attack and I almost got beaten or shot!! It was actually pretty comical in hindsight... I recently moved to SD, CA and drove around IB hoping to find the place since I couldn't remember the name. I found an empty lot (sadly) and knew it had to be the place. I googled the address and sure enough, that was it. Luckily I found some images of the place on the internet. Now, I will have to watch "John from Cincinnatti". I had no idea that it was filmed there. I will never forget this place...RIP!!!

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