A standing-room-only crowd of approximately 120 — mostly local residents opposed to a Marina (Mothers) Beach Strategic Plan proposed by the County Department of Beaches and Harbors — prompted County Marina del Rey Design Control Board chair Susan Cloke to promise a later second special meeting on the strategic plan.

As The Argonaut went to press Wednesday, no date had been confirmed for a second such meeting.

The first such special night meeting of the Design Control Board was held Thursday, January 26th, at the Burton Chace Park Community Building in Marina del Rey.

Local residents said they want the Marina (Mothers) Beach area — a public area for recreational and boating use and maintained by taxpayer funds — to remain a public area for recreational use and not be turned into an area of personal enrichment for local private developers.

The county leases out Marina del Rey — including parcels at the Marina (Mothers) Beach — to private developers.

T. Keith Gurnee, a principal of RRM Design Group, a consultant to the County Department of Beaches and Harbors, had developed a strategic plan to enable improvement of public access and enhanced recreational activities for the Marina Beach area, said Stan Wisniewski, director of the County Department of Beaches and Harbors.

Speaker after speaker opposed the strategic plan, citing:

– increased traffic they said would cause a gridlock in the area;

– police and fire department emergency vehicle access that would be severely restricted and safety-impacted; and

– beach access that would be lessened and parking that would be further away, causing hardships for individuals bringing their families to the beach.

One local resident who recently moved to the Marina said she didn’t move there to go shopping, and that shopping and hotels are not public recreation.

Gurnee said the strategic plan had already been revised based on feedback from prior meetings with the Design Control Board and the public prior to his presentation.

The revised concept plan of the Marina Strategic Plan includes:

– 14 public beach projects;

– 11 public landside projects;

– six public waterside projects; and

– six private leasehold projects.

BEACH PROJECTS —The plan calls for projects on the beach that include:

-a 20-foot-wide waterfront promenade;

– a 28-foot-wide waterfront promenade;

– a relocated ramp compliant with the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990);

– a relocated children’s playground;

– vertical accessways to beach;

– picnic shelters;

– retention of an existing lifeguard tower;

– stairs and seat walls;

– a beach volleyball venue;

– an exhibition beach volleyball court;

– removal of a blockhouse;

– new palm clusters;

– new rowing shell racks; and

– a new 20-foot-wide elevated promenade with beach storage.

PUBLIC PROJECTS — new public plaza areas would include;

– new public restrooms;

– refurbished public rest-rooms;

-new landscaped areas;

– a new water feature entry monument;

– a new dry stack dinghy storage shed;

– new boaters storage lockers;

– new ADA-compliant beach parking;

– a new “traffic table” (an elevated crosswalk to calm traffic);

– retention of a pullout lane; and

-new parking structures.

WATERSIDE — On the water, these projects are proposed:

– new pier floats;

– new pier end concessions;

– new non-motorized-boat side-tie floats;

– a water taxi landing;

– new 30-foot slips for transient boaters and dinghies; and

n new motorized-boat side-tie floats.

PRIVATE PROJECTS — Changes to privately-held businesses on beach-front parcels are planned at:

n Jamaica Bay Hotel;

n a new Marriott Residence Inn that would be built on the existing parking lot at Admiralty Way and Via Marina;

n Foghorn Harbor Inn;

n The Cheesecake Factory;

n Marina Liquor Mart; and

n the proposed Czucker Project that would be built on the site of the present Harbor House and Edie’s Diner restaurants and an adjacent county parking lot.

During continued public comment, Richard Hamlin, an attorney representing The Cheesecake Factory, said that while he appreciated the efforts in the reworked concept plan to keep most of the parking for The Cheesecake Factory, the loss of additional parking might force the corporation to leave the area and relocate elsewhere.

An alternate plan by a local nonprofit organization, Coalition to Save the Marina, was presented by coalition president Don Klein, member Carla Andrus and consultant Regina Rubino.

The alternate plan is based on what the group called more beach visitor-friendly aspects, including the expansion of international appeal using various languages on signage.

This alternate plan would:

– retain the area as a small craft harbor for recreational boating;

– promote ecotourism, wildlife and historical aspects;

– promote a nature and science walk emphasizing scenic beauty and sunsets and a pedestrian promenade with the beach history on inlaid tiles;

– create a maritime museum, bike repair rental and an Olympic-size swimming pool;

– have a shuttle system to keep private vehicle traffic out of the area;

– provide an open market for tourists;

– create a direct connection from the beach area to parking and maintaining of existing parking lots.

This alternate plan was met with much enthusiasm and applause from audience members at the Design Control Board meeting.

One of the public speakers said that the proposed reconfiguration of the Marina Freeway (State Route 90) expressway that would extend west of Lincoln Boulevard and into the Marina would also have a significant impact on the traffic burden for the Marina and Mothers Beach.

Those at the meeting were told that it will take almost two years to complete an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the beach-area plan, making it difficult to judge what the traffic impact will be on the already overburdened Lincoln Boulevard, Admiralty Way and other Marina access roads.

Angie Bera, Beachkeeper Program director of the environmental organization Santa Monica Baykeeper, said that water quality and water circulation are also an existing problem.

Capturing water runoff and the re-use of water are all critical considerations, and there is no interaction between any of these in the proposed strategic plan or in other Marina developments, Bera said.

Design Control Board chair Cloke and other board members directed county staff to prepare a report addressing:

n amenities for all ages;

n public access and bike paths combined with pedestrian paths;

n traffic and transportation issues and providing a plan with integrated transportation modalities; and

n use of a shuttle that connects to other places, as well as implementing a water taxi service.

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