County officials release new drawings that they say better depict planned upgrades to the Marina del Rey flood-control area and nature preserve

By Joe Piasecki

Flowering native plants flourish at one of several viewing stations along a serpentine walking path that county workers plan to install around Oxford Basin Lagoon. This new L.A. County Department of Public Works rendering, looking southwesterly with a Marina City Club tower in the background, depicts the area as it is expected to look 15 years from now.

Flowering native plants flourish at one of several viewing stations along a serpentine walking path that county workers plan to install around Oxford Basin Lagoon. This new L.A. County Department of Public Works rendering, looking southwesterly with a Marina City Club tower in the background, depicts the area as it is expected to look 15 years from now.

Los Angeles County officials ignited environmental controversy in January with the removal of 650 trees from Oxford Basin Lagoon in Marina del Rey, the first step in a plan reboot the area as a thriving nature preserve and public recreation destination while improving water quality and flood-control capacity.

In sharp contrast to what’s now a barren landscape — and what was previously a hodgepodge of non-native vegetation that ranged from stately eucalyptus trees to decaying shrubs — county workers intend to plant 745 native trees and 45,000 native or drought-tolerant plants after dredging some 10,000 cubic yards of sediment and debris.

Work to dredge out and replant Oxford Basin Lagoon, paused for three months during the rainy season, is expected to resume during the final week of May, said Los Angeles County Department of Public Works spokesman Kerjon Lee.  The 10-acre project site is bordered by Admiralty Way, Washington Boulevard and Oxford Avenue.

Last time workers entered the basin, local environmentalists staged protests over concerns that seabirds, Monarch butterflies and other wildlife would be harmed by the wholesale removal of the existing habitat. Project leaders countered that studies showed cutting trees prior to spring nesting season would minimize habitat disruption.

With work about to resume, county officials are making an effort to address lingering concerns and improve public perception of the project by releasing a series of new architectural renderings depicting the future landscaping of Oxford Basin Lagoon.

The drawings emphasize the return of lush vegetation and highlight structural upgrades that include a perimeter walking path with scenic view stations, connectivity to the existing bike path and landscape separation from Admiralty Way. Upgrades also include a water-circulating vegetative berm as well as new street furniture, lighting and decorative fencing.

Lee and other department officials first revealed the renderings during the Marina del Rey golden anniversary celebration at Burton Chase Park in early April. See more renderings on page 14 of our print edition upload.

“The artwork we originally had was great at giving a sense of place and talking about concepts, but it didn’t really paint a picture in the minds of neighbors,” Lee said. “The reception these drawings received at the Marina del Rey 50th Birthday Bash was overwhelmingly positive. People were excited to hear there would be a rich and diverse habitat returning to the basin.”

Neighbors also appear pleased that putrid smells caused by stagnant water and rotting debris will be an inconvenience of the past, he said.

“I don’t want to debate what makes an ecosystem, but those trees were not healthy. They were overgrown and some of them dying, depositing decomposing leaves and other material in the water. We’re replacing this with a healthier ecosystem that’s more California-friendly and will grow in balance with the wildlife there,” Lee said.

For more information about the project, see the Jan. 22 article “Speaking for the Trees” at argonautnews.com or visit dpw.lacounty.gov.

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