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Big projects approved for Marina del Rey harbor

April 26, 2011 |  5:39 pm


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Although the hotel proposal was withdrawn, supervisors unanimously approved other plans, including a 1.46-acre wetland park, a 526-unit Neptune Marina apartment complex and 114 units of senior housing.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