Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors Director Santos Kreimann presented his department’s Strategic Plan 2011-13 to the county Small Craft Harbor Commission at its March 9 meeting at Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey.

Kreimann said that the Strategic Plan “will be a guiding document that serves as a road map in transforming the department and its operations for the benefit of our residents and beachgoing public.”

“This plan provides a clear depiction of our Vision, Mission, Values and Action plans that we intend to pursue and implement over the next three years in Caring for Your Coast (collaboration, open to possibilities, action-oriented, sustainability, transparency). More specifically, it has been developed to refocus our collective energies to: 1) achieve a higher level of service excellence for the benefit of our stakeholders; 2) promote economic growth and enhance the quality of life of our residents; 3) increase public access and expand recreational opportunities along our coastline; and 4) protect the beach and marine development that is entrusted into our care,” he said.

Kreimann said that by publishing the plan, the department seeks to increase communication with “all those who have an interest in how we manage some of the most beautiful coastline and certainly one of the most visited areas in the world.

“It is a living document that will continually change and grow in the years to come, depending on the challenges and opportunities that may arise. As a result, we welcome your continued input on this plan,” the director said.

The Strategic Plan reflects input received over the past few years from members of the public and business community, the Board of Supervisors and other county agencies. He told the Small Craft Harbor Commission that he and his staff invested “countless hours of reflection, study and discussion to develop this plan.”

On May 18, 2010, Department of Beaches and Harbors leaders – managers and supervisors, division chiefs, the deputy director, chief deputy director, and the department director – met at the Dockweiler Beach Youth Center in Playa del Rey to discuss the department’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; mission, vision and values; and strategic priorities. This planning retreat provided opportunities for the participants to communicate openly across division lines and develop a strategic direction, said Kreimann.

He explained that the key points of the plan are:

Our Vision – to be a responsible and proactive steward of world-renowned and public urban beaches and Marina del Rey harbor for the benefit of current and future generations;

Our Mission – Caring for the coast in a sustainable manner by providing clean, safe and accessible public urban beaches and Marina del Rey harbor while promoting quality of life, economic vitality, boating and other recreational opportunities; and

Our Stakeholders – The county Department of Beaches and Harbors has many stakeholders and populations who care about and benefit from the beaches owned or operated by Los Angeles County and Marina del Rey. These populations (stakeholders) include county visitors and beach users of all economic levels and ages, beach area residents and their local governments, Marina del Rey boaters and residents, Marina del Rey lessees, domestic and international tourists, businesses, environmental groups, regulatory authorities such as the California Coastal Commission, elected officials, nonprofit organizations, commissions, and county departments such as the Department of Regional Planning and the Board of Supervisors.

Even individuals who do not visit the coastline can benefit from the economic activity that results from the beaches and Marina del Rey.

He said the department’s goals include:

Goal 1 – Service excellence. Delivering service excellence to both beach and Marina del Rey users that enhances their access to and use of the coastline for boating and other recreational purposes;

Goal 2 – Economic growth. Building a vibrant Marina del Rey community and attractive beach areas, resulting in increased number of visitors and, more broadly, economic development for the region;

Goal 3 – Environmental stewardship. Protecting the beach and marina environment for the benefit of current and future generations; and

Goal 4 – Internal effectiveness. Improving our operations, our policies, and our workforce and its culture to make us more effective in Caring for Your Coast.

Kreimann pointed out that there is no specific section in his department that deals with the boating community, and that there is a need to work on making it more viable. He said new staff is being developed, and noted that four or five individuals in the department are boaters who will help with the issues and better communicate with the boating community.

The Asset Management division is looking at various models of how to work with lease expirations. He said the department is looking at current leases and considering if the county should be the landlord instead. Another option might be to let leases expire and seek a request for proposal or look at early buybacks on specific parcels and aggregating them for a larger parcel, Kreimann said.

Improving the work progress of the department and possibly automating work functions and standardizing property management is another consideration. He said that there is a heightened awareness, and an official position is being developed to work with groups regarding the habitat, birds and wildlife.

“It’s a very ambitious plan and a good start, and it will be evaluated yearly, making updates and changing dates if needed,” said Kreimann.

Resident Jon Nahhas, one of the very vocal critics of Beaches and Harbors and development in the Marina, said of the plan, “It is refreshing and a step in the right direction. I thank Kreimann for getting close to a mission statement.”

Nahhas also noted that since the harbor was built for recreational boating, the Strategic Plan is a good thing to talk about, but that it needs to be done. He suggested that a night meeting should be held for the upcoming review of the plan, as well as reaching out to surrounding communities such as Venice and Playa del Rey to explain the vision.

The Strategic Plan is available for review, and after 30 days, it is scheduled to be put on the commission agenda. Kreimann said he will answer any questions from the commissioners and the public about the plan at a future meeting.

The plan is online at the Beaches and Harbors Web site; on the right-hand side, under Beaches Documents, enter “Strategic Plan” at:

http://beaches.lacounty.gov.

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