A recommendation to remove the Marina del Rey Design Control Board’s authority to review new projects before the applications for land use entitlements are filed with the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning was made by Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Don Knabe to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors at the board’s September 26th meeting. Knabe represents the Fourth Supervisorial District, which includes Marina del Rey.

Currently, the Marina del Rey Design Control Board reviews new development projects in the Marina and its members vote to recommend conceptual approval to the Board of Supervisors or to withhold that recommendation and it often asks the developer to return with changes to the design for various reasons.

The recommendation, as amended by the Board of Supervisors, requests that the Regional Planning Commission present recommendations to the Board of Supervisors within 120 days for an amendment to the County’s Marina del Rey Local Coastal Plan and ordinances that would:

— eliminate the precondition that the Marina del Rey Design Control Board’s initial conceptual review of a development/redevelopment project occur before an application for land use entitlements is filed with the Department of Regional Planning;

— permit the Design Control Board to conduct a conceptual review during the land use entitlement process and submit recommendations to the Regional Planning Commission prior to the commencement of the public hearing by the Planning Commission on the land use entitlements in a timely manner;

— place primary responsibility for site plan approval and Local Coastal Program consistency review with the Planning Commission; and

— clarify that the Design Control Board’s final review of Marina projects, which will occur after the Planning Commission has taken action on the project’s land use entitlements, will continue to be focused upon architectural elements, signage, materials, landscaping and colors.

The second part of the supervisors’ action instructs the chief administrator of Los Angeles County, in conjunction with the director of regional planning and county counsel, and in consultation with the director of the Department of Beaches and Harbors and the various boards and commissions, to review the process and procedures currently in use for proposed projects in the Marina.

This review by the county chief administrator would extend from the initial Request for Proposals (RFP) process to final approvals, including the roles and responsibilities of county staff, and how the approval process can be made more efficient and effective without compromising public input, and require the chief administrator to report back with recommendations within 45 days.

Not only would these changes, if finalized, impact the little authority the Design Control Board now has, but local public input at meetings of the board as well.

If the recommendation to change its role receives final approval, the Marina del Rey Design Control Board will effectively be told by the county, “The county has decided to construct a building of a certain size and height, on a designated parcel of land, and at a cost previously decided upon in negotiations that can’t be divulged until the contract has received final approval, but the Design Control Board is allowed to review input on what the building design might look like, choose the color of the exterior, the signage, and the type of landscaping.”

The Marina del Rey Design Control Board has become known to community members as the forum to air their grievances about what is perceived as overdevelopment in the Marina area.

Many residents of the Marina say that Susan Cloke, chair of the Marina del Rey Design Control Board, has represented their voice when it pertains to new developments that come before the Design Control Board, and has provided an opportunity to address a wide array of concerns about development-associated concerns.

Local residents have raised issues which, according to county officials and county counsel, the Marina del Rey Design Control Board has no authority to make decisions about, but local residents say that the board has been their only opportunity to voice their concerns.

Recently, one developer had to return for a third time with his project near Marina (Mothers) Beach before conceptual approval was recommended by the Design Control Board.

Members of the Design Control Board are appointed by the Board Supervisors, with one appointment per supervisorial district.

The Design Control Board is required to be composed of two architects, one landscape architect, one developer and someone in the field of business management, according to county documentation.

The five current Design Control Board members are:

— board chair Susan Cloke, appointed by First District Supervisor Gloria Molina;

— vice chair Katherine Spitz, ASLA, appointed by Third District Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky;

— David Abelar, appointed by Second District Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke;

— Peter Phinney, AIA, appointed by Fourth District Supervisor Don Knabe; and

—Tony Wong, P.E., appointed by Fifth District Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

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