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Big projects approved for Marina del Rey harbor


The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a series of major development projects for Marina del Rey that will add more apartments, shopping and office space in the pleasure boat harbor.

The decision came despite protests from a vocal group of opponents who accuse the county of putting tax revenues and lease income ahead of the needs of residents and recreational boaters. They said it would be irresponsible for the county to increase development in an area at risk for tsunami.

They said supervisors had made up their minds before Tuesday's meeting, and failed to listen to the residents' concerns. Supervisors approved the motion with no debate.

"Obviously, these decisions were made before you came into this room. You did not even make a pretense," said Nancy Vernon Marino, representing the group We ARE Marina del Rey, which opposes the county's development plan. "You have an obligation to serve the public. All of it. And that includes listening respectfully … and you didn't do that. It is an insult."

But officials say redevelopment of the marina, which is owned by the county, is sorely needed. Opened in 1965, parts of the harbor are dilapidated and cracked. Officials also say they need more upscale retail outlets and restaurants to better compete with other areas, like Beverly Hills, for sales tax revenue.

"It's dilapidated and we need to do everything we can to polish the crown jewel and make it a more livable community," said Santos Kreimann, director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors.

Supervisor Don Knabe, whose district includes the marina, said the county has undergone many public hearings and shelved the most controversial aspects of the development, including a 19-story hotel building.

"We have met. We have listened," Knabe said. "And we have reviewed those projects over and over."

Although the hotel proposal was withdrawn, supervisors unanimously approved other plans, including a 1.46-acre wetland park, a 526-unit Neptune Marina apartment complex and 114 units of senior housing. An existing gym will be replaced by Holiday Harbor, an office and retail complex with parking, a yacht club, gym and public plaza.

Lee Jay Berman, 49, of Marina del Rey said he objected to so much additional housing, which would cause traffic jams during the morning commute on the single road that leads on and off the peninsula. This could be problematic during a disaster, he said.

"We're in a tsunami area. … If there were an emergency, I'm concerned about the life safety issue of people getting out of that peninsula," Berman told the supervisors.

Lynne Shapiro, 75, of Marina del Rey said residents don't want extreme height or increased density in their community.

"Give us a real park," she said. "We have more and more young families who cannot afford homes. They need recreational space with tables and benches and jungle gyms for children without yards. Now we're being shunted aside by apartments, another hotel, yachts and a luxury senior building for the very wealthy."

David Barish, an opponent of the plan, said he plans to appeal the county's decision to the California Coastal Commission and is considering filing a lawsuit against the county, alleging that environmental impact reports were deficient.

-- Rong-Gong Lin II at the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration

Photo: Fisherman's Village in Marina del Rey. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (4)

Great article, Ron.

The one thing that would give my quote above some better context is to point out that began by saying that I am pro development, including around the Marina, but that these projects (928 units plus 12,000 sq. feet of commercial) at the top of the peninsula would choke the traffic right at the pinch point, creating an unsafe bottleneck, and I believe a life-safety issue. I said there should be more development and units around the Marina, but that it should be on the east side, so that the traffic can easily access the 6-lane Lincoln Blvd., and the Marina Freeway (SR 90).

I hope people will continue to look into this issue with an eye toward that.

"We have met. We have listened. And we have reviewed those projects over and over."

What is Knabe talking about? The Supervisors refuse to hear anything their constituents say. Why? Because they have already become happy bedfellows with developers. Public be damned. The only green in the Marina is what will be lining their pockets once this is done.

Yes the building of Espirit "Luxury" Apartments on public land has been such a success! With studios renting at $2195 per month and 4 bedrooms at $12,500 per month I can see how this 437 mega-complex eyesore has benefited the general public and local community (plus at one point the property was sinking). 437 more cars on already conjested Admiralty, Lincoln, Washington & Venice Blvds, and more pollution in the air! Wheee! This is only the beginning.

Thanks Lee. Can you tell me which road is the choke-point you're referring to?

Hi Ron,

Sure thing. I'm concerned about Via Marina at the intersection of Admiralty Way and the two blocks to the south of that where these new units would go. There are (by fire regulations) two points of ingress and egress into the peninsula / silver strand. I can't tell you how many people live on it, but there are a ton of apartments, condos and single family homes crammed in tight with extraordinarily high density (which makes sense, since we're by the beach). Pacific Ave. is one lane each way and is over mile long leading those on the peninsula side of the grand lagoon (west side of the whole peninsula) out to Washington, where they could to north toward Venice or turn right and go east on Washington Blvd. as they leave. The same options are available to us as we take Via Marina north, which is 2 lanes in each direction. My wife and I talk about how we couldn't get out of the peninsula now in the event of a tsunami warning (this last one was only an advisory), but now they're talking about adding almost 1,000 new units and 12,000 sq. ft. of commercial/retail space in the last two blocks of Via Marina before we can get to Admiralty or Washington to get out of the peninsula.

When I worked for a national builder/developer, we looked at building the apartments at the corner of Jefferson and Lincoln and after great due diligence we declined because we learned that along Lincoln Blvd from there north is a deadly combination of a huge underground natural gas reservoir (from back in the days of Howard Hughes and the Spruce Goose plant there) and a serious fault line running along the east side of Lincoln. We chose not to build there. In the event of a tsunami, earthquake, gas explosion or any of the things we've become accustomed to in California, the peninsula would be locked in today. Adding 1,500 round trip car trips to that choke point daily would overburden the peninsula's streets and cause total gridlock.

My questions are simple, Ron. 1.) Are they widening Via Marina? I don't think so. 2.) Are they widening Admiralty Way? There is an easement for the expansion of the 90 Freeway, but I don't think that they are in association with these units. and 3.) are they widening Washington Blvd.? No, it remains 2 lanes each way with curb parking. To my knowledge, and I haven't studied the EIR and plans in detail, they are planning absolutely no mitigation for their addition of 1,500 round-trip car trips a day through those two blocks south of Admiralty Way on Via Marina.

And setting aside an emergency, just imagine a busy beach day on a summer Saturday. One would never get out of the peninsula except on bicycle. And the gentleman who talked about the bike path terminating onto a busy Washington Blvd. had a very valid point, too.

Let's just hope there is further study and investigation and that this deal isn't sealed through political channels. I heard a rumor that the developer is related to a Supervisor?


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