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Hoot-el California: Hotel, owl preservationists agree to new plan

California hotel owners and operators face a whole host of legal issues on a regular basis. They must manage staff, oversee the food preparation process, maintain safe premises and ensure their guests are treated properly and satisfied with their stay.

The responsibilities don't stop there, either. There are numerous real-estate related issues to consider as well. For instance, hotels must comply with local ordinances, which isn't always easy. However, there are some cases of people taking these challenges and turning them into opportunities.

For instance, recently, hotel developers here in California faced a lawsuit from the Burrowing Owl Preservation Society after it was discovered that construction on a new hotel threatened a pair of burrowing owls that had been nesting on the site for years. The owls are considered a "species of special concern" here, and members of the BOPS filed the lawsuit to stop construction and protect the pair.

Rather than fight the lawsuit or agree to comply only with the bare minimum required by state protocols, the hotel developer changed its plans to embrace and accommodate the owls.

According to updated plans, the hotel agreed to allow owl experts to monitor the owls during construction and include owl-friendly landscaping on site. They also plan to create alternative burrows for the owls, which is said to be far more preferable than forcibly relocating the birds.

These efforts to go above-and-beyond in terms of addressing community and environmental concerns are certainly not necessary. And in some cases, a similar approach is simply impossible. However, it is crucial for hotel and other property owners to be aware of their obligation to meet certain criteria when it comes to development requirements in a specific location.

This case should serve as a reminder that not every real estate dispute turns into a nasty courtroom battle. There may be alternative solutions worth considering that appease both sides of an argument.

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