Recommendations to stop the proposed Admiralty Way realignment and to make one project out of the Oxford Basin and the Marina (Mothers) Beach Concept Plan in Marina del Rey were made by chair Peter Phinney at the Marina del Rey Design Control Board meeting Wednesday, April 21st.

Phinney said that the proposed Admiralty Way realignment is a “really bad idea” and it takes away too much public space in the Marina.

Board member Helena Jubany asked county staff if the Admiralty Way realignment was still moving forward, and was told that the project is currently in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review process.

Jubany said that “public land is being handed over to automobiles with the realignment.”

“Parking is eliminated but the Mothers Beach project will also eliminate parking spaces,” she said, asking if a lot of the parking spaces being eliminated were caused by the Marina Beach Concept Plan project.

Maria Rosario, senior planner for Gruen Associates, the consultant for the project, responded that not all, but a portion of the parking spaces would be removed.

Rosario stated that for the 2009 Fourth of July fireworks show, a large amount of people attended but the parking lot was not filled.

Board member Simon Pastucha also expressed concern over the realignment.

Phinney said, “I can’t object to it more strongly than I do. I really hope it doesn’t happen. I’d love to come up with some sort of mechanism; I can’t speak for the whole commission but Ms. Jubany seems to be of the same accord, as does Mr. Pastucha. I’d like to consider, and talk to county staff off-line, maybe agendize a discussion, whether this commission could write some sort of a letter about our feeling about the Admiralty Way realignment because I think it’s not only not a good idea, I think it’s a really bad one.”

Phinney also recommended making one project out of the Oxford Basin and Marina Beach plans — drawing a circle around the Oxford Basin, down Admiralty Way to Panay Way and back — and including the Marina Beach area.

“We have an opportunity to actually work cooperatively, collaboratively, on all of this property at one time, and Mothers Beach would be ‘the nose on the face’ of that total project,” said Phinney. “If these people aren’t talking to all of those people, we are missing an enormous opportunity to exploit the connectivity of the projects.

“This should all be thought of as a single thing, the Marina Beach project should be the centerpiece, but it should all be thought of as an urban plan that’s interconnected, that suddenly magnifies all of the recreational opportunities in that whole end of the Marina and it makes it worth the sum of its parts,” Phinney said.

“If that means a contract change or some sort of extension for them, I want to write a letter to support that effort. I really hope that county staff will address that issue, and I’d like to get support from other members of the commission,” said Phinney.

Phinney asked if it makes some sense to think about the two projects as a single item. “They’re all happening simultaneously, within months of one another,” he said.

Pastucha said he agreed, and that it’s about making the connection between these spaces.

“It’s always good in working on a huge property to get all the different teams working together and sharing a vision, because usually they’re all focused on what was,” he said. “This is a pedestrian space, let’s show where the connections should and could be. Make sure you think about it because those developments in those other areas we’re talking about need to connect to this,” said Pastucha.

Jubany said it’s important that county staff watch for issues such as interconnectivity, and not have projects that end up going nowhere.

Phinney said that it’s rare to have this type of opportunity for planning, because projects tend to happen on their own schedule.

“Here we have the opportunity so let’s exploit it, let’s really exploit it. I hate to use this sort of ‘hot button’ master plan term, but this could begin to be the northwest Marina master plan that we’ve all been sort of craving. I’d love to see us pursue it,” said Phinney.

While board member TonyWong said the matter was important enough to pass a motion to have county staff contact the Board of Supervisors for an amendment to the contract, Phinney said the issue wasn’t on the agenda and would have to be scheduled.

County staff said they would file a report and agendize the matter.

MARINA (MOTHERS) BEACH CONCEPT PLAN —

A presentation had been made on the project at an April 7th special night meeting to elicit public input on the design.

The elements of the plan include creating a signature place for all, with five areas encircling Marina Beach — The Promenade, Marina View Plaza, The Overlook, The Oasis and The Boater’s Hub.

Rosario said the project consultant is aware of previous public input from meetings with RRM Design Group in 2005.

The entire concept plan is available for viewing on the Department of Beaches and Harbors Web site under “Marina (Mothers) Beach Concept Plan” at

http://beaches.co.la.ca.us/BandH/Main.htm/.

During public comment, Nancy Vernon Marino, co-founder of We ARE Marina del Rey, said the Beaches and Harbors Web site didn’t have the meeting agenda available until right before the meeting, and asked what outreach was being done.

Jon Nahhas of the Boating Coalition claimed there is a lack of public trust and said that night meetings are scheduled for a definite purpose. He also asked what public outreach was being done to get more public participation at these meetings.

Phinney spoke about the communication issue with the county Web site, saying it had come up before, and asked about e-mail blasts to notify the public about meetings.

Beaches and Harbors deputy director Gary Jones told him that a presentation had been made to the Small Craft Harbor Commission on the ongoing redesign of the Web site, and that they would schedule a presentation for the Design Control Board. Jones acknowledged that meeting information could be presented in a clearer way, and the department is working on getting all approved minutes online in the future.

Marino said that the monument at the Beaches and Harbors office states, “This great recreation and boating facility is dedicated to the enjoyment of the residents of Los Angeles County.”

She said that Rosario had stated that there is a very local community usage at Mothers Beach, but claimed it wasn’t true because people come from all over Los Angeles County to use the beach.

Marino noted that the other comment Rosario made is that the act of recreation is already there.

“No, we don’t have growth in active recreation, this is the problem and this is why We ARE Marina del Rey has been advocating a Marina del Rey master plan because you have a tremendous growth in population for Los Angeles County and particularly the Westside,” she said.

“Where is the growth in recreational facilities here? These things need to be addressed before we spend ridiculous amounts of money on consultants to come up with additional public use for the same amount of land,” Marino asked.

Marino said it is a land use issue and that she wanted to call attention to [US House of Representatives] document 389, which she says is the recreational mandate for Marina del Rey.

Marino pointed out that House document 389 mandated that Marina del Rey was to be a recreational and small boat harbor; that land bordering on the proposed development was to be of a sufficient width for proper functioning of the harbor, and that only beaches, bathing houses, parking areas, picnic facilities, special recreation centers, children’s wading pools, fishing piers, tourist parks with cabin and trailer accommodations and a bird sanctuary, among others, were planned. There was no inclusion of hotels and apartments, she said.

“We do have residential and other non-commercial, and we’re not saying get rid of them, but we are saying don’t get rid of us, the existing community in the hare-brained idea that you’re going to get a richer populace to come in and populate these larger buildings,” Marino said.

Nahhas said that in looking at the project, he’s concerned about “what we’re gaining and losing.”

“We’re gaining an oasis, a boaters’ hub, a beachfront promenade 20 to 28 feet, widening, food concessions, boater facilities, and other things.

“What we’re not hearing is what we’re losing. You’re talking about beach assets. When I hear that, a beach to me is the water, not the facilities around it. Keep as much of the beach and water as possible.”

He said that the Coastal Act prohibits building on the water.

“There isn’t a lot of water and we’re continually decreasing the size of the water based on the harbor. Outside the harbor, there are 12-foot swells, and boaters can’t go out. We’re losing the intent of the Marina,” he stated.

“Having dinghy docks at Marina Beach with limited boating access serves people with large boats. What about the 61,000 boaters in Los Angeles County? The average boat size is 22 feet or 26 feet. They don’t have dinghies on those size boats.”

Rosario said that even if the population in the area is growing, the amount of land at Mothers Beach can’t grow, adding that it only holds so many people.

Wong asked her if she believes that in 15 years the beach will still be the same and if she’s consulted with an ocean expert on sediment and wave movement.

Rosario said the consultants had a technical meeting with Beaches and Harbors Operations Department and were bombarded with technical questions, some of which she couldn’t answer because she’s not an expert.

She commented that the question of sand receding is a big question that was discussed, and the project itself is designed to be as simple as possible and easy to maintain.

Phinney expressed deep concern about the safety aspect regarding children at restrooms located under the bleachers and out of view.

Regarding The Outlook, he said that it’s a terrific program opportunity for that stage, “but there’s nothing as sad as an empty stage. So if it’s not going to be programmed, let’s not do it.”

Phinney advised remaining focused on the picnic areas, and thatthere are money-making opportunities for the county to rent out portions of the beach for large events.

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