The Los Angeles County Marina del Rey Design Control Board voted March 16 to recommend final design approval of the Marina Walk renovation project at the Marina City Club.

The board additionally discussed its review process; received an update on a proposed renovation project; and heard a presentation on the county Department of Beaches and Harbors Strategic Plan 2011-2013.

County staff discussed potential improvements to the current Design Control Board review and recommendation processes as a way to enhance the Marina’s overall urban design program.

The Design Control Board is charged with reviewing development proposals, including renovations, for consistency with the Specifications and Minimum Standards of Architectural Treatment and Construction, the Design Control Board Statement of Aims and Policies (with the exception of project design elements), and the Revised Permanent Sign Controls and Regulations.

The board has also used the Marina Walk Design Guidelines when considering promenade alterations.

The existing design review process is intended to facilitate and establish an urban design concept and to ensure compatibility between all design elements, staff said. There are limited exceptions to the types of exterior modifications that would be reviewed by the board – small information/directional signs like preferential parking signs, temporary banners or “for lease” signs, and minor projects such as utility work and road signage.

The board’s decisions are recommendations to the Department of Regional Planning and/or hearing officer, in the form of an “Approval in Concept,” project conditions, or denial for their consideration when evaluating project consistency with the Local Coastal Program (LCP) and Los Angeles County Title 22 during the permitting process, states county documentation.

Development reviewed by the board is considered in one of three project review processes listed:

1. Authorizations – provides authorization of minor exterior alterations and allows work on a Marina del Rey project which does not require further regulatory review (such as exterior paint color on buildings)

Process: the board reviews the proposal and either provides an “Approval in Concept” or suggests conditions;

2. Approval of development proposals – signs are the most common type of development within this review process, which essentially allows design review prior to projects proceeding directly to the Department of Public Works, Division of Building and Safety or Department of Regional Planning for permitting and approvals (such as exterior modification of an existing building with no change or intensity of use, signage and awnings).

Process: typically requires one board meeting. At times, applicants are required to return to the board with plan alterations or additional material samples. Frequently, board recommendations include minor plan changes which are approved by staff prior to “Approval in Concept” and subsequent submission to the permitting authority; and

3. Conceptual and final approval of redevelopment – a two-step process which provides an opportunity for an initial project review, followed by a final review once the Regional Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors, California Coastal Commission and/or other agencies have issued permits.

Process: for larger, more complex projects, the board conducts conceptual and final reviews concurrently with the coastal development permit process. The conceptual review phase analyzes the architectural design and site planning of the proposed development. Board recommendations are then submitted to the Regional Planning Commission or hearing officer for consideration in the coastal development process. The board’s final review or architectural design is based on the development approved by the Regional Planning Commission and/or hearing officer, post coastal development permit.

MARINA CITY CLUB –

The Design Control Board approved a recommendation to move the Marina Walk project forward, but requested that the applicant work with the county on providing a shade area for the proposed benches. Several shade designs had been presented at the previous meeting, and the applicant was asked to continue to revise them. At the March 16 meeting, the applicant said it had removed the shade designs entirely because they blocked the view of residents from the building.

Peter Phinney, the chair of the design board, and other members said they want to have a shade option, and asked that the applicant work with county staff to come up with an appropriate design. Board member Helena Jubany told the applicant that it would be unfair to applicants for other projects if the project was approved without a shade option, which would be required of other developers.

The project consists of renovations to the 1,400-foot segment of the promenade (designated as Marina Walk), a fire access lane, and new signage adjoining the waterfront along the southerly boundary of Parcel 125I.

The Marina City Club is a multi-unit residential project that consists of six 17-story crescent-shaped towers and one three-story apartment building. The 600 condominium units are owned by individual homeowners who are independent of the applicant/ lessee Essex Property Trust, while the 101-unit Marina City Promenade Apartments and the marina are owned by the applicant.

The existing Marina Walk is generally eight-feet-wide, and a stretch of approximately 100 feet has only a three-foot width. Some site constraints, namely the location of buildings on the parcel and the need to address security concerns for the apartment renters and condominium owners prevent widening the public waterfront to meet the 28-foot requirement for a combined Marina Walk and fire lance, staff said.

During lease negotiations in 2004, the county negotiated for a marina replacement project, and an option for the county to receive a dedicated 12-foot-wide easement for a public Marina Walk along the entire Marina City Club waterfront to improve the existing restricted access condition. Subsequently, the applicant has volunteered to include Marina Walk improvements concurrent with the reconstruction of its anchorage.

In November, the project came before the Design Control Board for conceptual design review, and there were a number of recommended plan revisions and requests.

The requests included considering accent zones along the Marina Walk by creating landscape treatments and hardscape features to enlarge the seating areas, and enhance direct access to and from waterside amenities; the use of a landscape architect in the selection of planting materials; designing gates so that users of the Marina Walk would be directed towards the WaterBus stop(s) and that the boarding area(s) may be accessed by way of the Marina Walk. Other requests included improving visibility through the seawall fence at the seating areas; and relocating and reconsidering the design of the proposed shade structures to ensure they create adequate shade.

FISHERMAN’S VILLAGE-

During the January Design Control Board meeting, the board requested a status update on the proposed redevelopment of the Fisherman’s Village area, located on Fiji Way, as well as on the status of the lease, current occupancy rates, maintenance concerns, and the “kiddy” rides.

County staff said the existing lease will expire in 2023, and that they have been in discussions with the lessee concerning interest in redeveloping the site. There are currently two commercial spaces available.

According to Pacific Ocean Management Co., the lessee’s property manager, the lessee chose to remove the children’s rides for safety concerns since there were reports that injuries had resulted from children falling from the rides.

Michael Pashaie, one of the lessees, said the renovation project is moving forward, and that environmental studies have been completed.

He said the proposed project will be downsized by 7,000 square feet of retail space, but a hotel will be built with bungalows added and Fisherman’s Village will be completely repainted.

He added that parking is also an issue, and that Fisherman’s Village will provide all of the parking.

Pashai said the developer has been negotiating with other restaurant vendors, and that Angler’s Choice plans to leave. The kiddy rides will be replaced in approximately two months, and the new vendor will have to maintain the equipment properly.

Pashaie said that most of the commercial spaces at the site are rented. At the January board meeting, a restaurant tenant, Jules Doyle (Café al Fresco), said parents had asked him where the kiddy rides were. He also stated that there were spaces for rent but there seemed to be no interest in renting them out. Doyle also questioned why some shops were boarded up and visible from the promenade.

Doyle said he and others want Fisherman’s Village to be redeveloped and offer the amenities that busloads of tourists come to see.

Pashaie said he believed Doyle’s comments were made in good faith and he is in negotiations with potential tenants, but added “the days of the small T-shirt and knick-knack vendors who might not be in business for long are gone,” and the property needs more stable businesses that are able to sign a long-term lease.

Santos Kreimann, director of Beaches and Harbors, also presented the department’s Strategic Plan 2011-2013 to the Design Control Board March 16, after discussing the plan at the Small Craft Harbor Commission meeting earlier this month. The plan is available for review online by clicking on search and entering “Strategic Plan 2011-2013” at:http://beaches.lacounty.gov.

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