The Marina del Rey Design Control Board does not intend to withhold information to keep the public from attending meetings, board chair Peter Phinney told the audience Wednesday, March 17th.
During public comment, some speakers had raised concerns about unannounced public meetings resulting in some meetings such as the Design Control Board’s regular and special night meetings not being well attended. Some also argued that meeting minutes have not fully or accurately captured the public speakers’ comments.
“I don’t for a moment believe that there’s any nefarious intent on the part of Beaches and Harbors (Department), or any desire to withhold information in terms of the minutes or of meeting occurrences,” said Phinney.
“There are strict regulations about notification and notice for meetings.”
Phinney said the board holds regular meetings and will move to a night meeting if the agenda items are controversial and the board is seeking as much public input as possible.
“If anyone has a recommendation for us, please write to us, care of the county staff. Our board has really worked tirelessly to try to improve opportunities for members of the public to be involved with this process,” he said.
“This Department of Beaches and Harbors has really gone way beyond that of the prior department under other leadership in terms of its effort to involve the public.
“I honestly believe the Board of Supervisors also has improved its efforts to involve the public, to make sure there is more transparency and more participation,” he continued.
“I don’t want that to sit, that there is a sense of something going on, because honestly there isn’t. I speak for all of our commissioners and I think I speak for the county staff as well. We welcome the input of the public, and we want all the people of the county to have input; that’s what this process is all about.”
At a previous Design Control Board meeting this year, Phinney told the audience, “I think there is a very profound lack of public trust in the public process.” Phinney had also stated that the Board of Supervisors had been seen as the trustees of the Marina.
“There is a public perception, and I’m not sure if it’s incorrect, that somehow that relationship over time has changed for a variety of reasons.”
During public comment March 17th, local resident Nancy Vernon Marino told the commission that “it’s very frustrating that there hasn’t been a single public meeting about the overall change in land use in the Marina.”
She said that at present, there are eight public parking lots that are part of identified private projects totaling 30 acres. These 30 acres are presently zoned under the Specific Plan and the LCP, and the zoning is for public use or parking only, Marino said.
Of the 400 land acres, 64 percent is currently under private control for private uses, and six percent of the land is used for park or recreational facilities, she said.
“For land that we have already paid for, for recreational purposes, that is not acceptable,” she said.
Marino said that whatever visitor-serving programs there are should be for the residents of the county.
Local boater Gerald Sobel, who has boated in the Marina since 1973, said all of the buildings on the west side of the main channel create constantly changing wind directions, making it not only difficult to sail but unsafe.
“People have pretty much given up. They don’t think the county really gives a darn about the public, that they’re there just out to swipe the land, swipe the park, and give it to their development cronies so they can profiteer huge amounts of money,” alleged Sobel.
Another issue raised at the meeting was the cost for CDs of the meeting at $20. Wong and Phinney agreed that the price should be reviewed.
Board member David Abelar suggested that the meetings be online for everyone to watch and that all documents also be online.
The Department of Beaches and Harbors Web site has a calendar for all meetings on its Web site, as well as a link to the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning, among other links, at http://beaches.co.la.ca.us/BandH/Main.htm/.