The Concept Plan for Mothers (Marina) Beach in Marina del Rey was presented for public comment Wednesday, March 31st by Gruen Associates, a consultant to the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors.

The Marina Beach Concept Plan builds upon an earlier study done by RRM Design a few years ago.

A proposed Marriott Hotel on the Mothers Beach parcel was withdrawn by Pacifica Hotel Investors by written notification to Beaches and Harbors on November 2nd.

Local residents and boaters had long opposed a hotel being built on that property because of concerns of the impact on visitors to the beach. Opponents said the hotel would not offer amenities to beach visitors and only make it more difficult to access the beach, specifically due to a lack of parking.

While attendees at the March 31st meeting say they were appreciative of the withdrawal of the hotel project and the new plans for a recreational beach area, some are still adamant that a master plan is needed for development of the Marina, and stated that this proposed concept plan does not do enough to create future recreational and boating amenities for the public.

Gruen Associates representative Maria Rosario told the audience that the specific reason for the meeting was to get public input to help guide the development of recreational and boating opportunities.

Kathy King, a planning department representative of Beaches and Harbors, told the audience that the department is “ready to ramp up visioning exercises for really broad land use planning in the Marina as a whole.”

“We want to focus on some of the key objectives like opening up recreational opportunities to blend in with all of the other uses and changes that are happening in the Marina, to make sure that the Marina as a place of recreation is attractive to all of the residents of the county,” said King.

In her presentation, Rosario told the audience that “We heard what you said in other public meetings about keeping Marina Beach for recreation and boating.”

She said that the current opportunities would be retained but new ones would also be introduced. Computer-generated drawings with various concepts were on display for the audience to review.

Rosario said the department is aware of development issues, lost parking, and desired amenities such as a promenade, a new recreational boating facility, new kayak rental facility, and a snack bar away from the boating area based on public comment at previous meetings.

Maximizing view corridors and how they are connected is important, both from land views and views from the water, she said.

Creating a signature image for the Marina is part of the goal, she said, pointing out how pictures of beaches around the world are recognized instantly because of key details that become the image of that place.

“This is an open space, and we should look at what kind of measures make the Marina memorable, with visitors from all over Los Angeles County and other places,” she said. “There are endless miles of beautiful sandy beaches, in which the Marina is a small jewel, a man-made area, that is very symmetrical with specific requirements.”

During public comment, Marina resident John Rizzo said that something is needed to draw people to use the facilities because they’re underutilized.

“I don’t think you have a plan for the use of this area for the months the sun doesn’t shine,” Rizzo said.

He said that the picnic area is always utilized and he suggested building another picnic area on the side of the beach that’s not being used. Rizzo also said the parking lot across the street must be maintained so people could walk across the street and would not have to carry things so far.

Rosario explained that the department wants to have a picnic area in two places, one by the children’s playground and the other by the underutilized boaters’ area.

One speaker noted that the rendering didn’t show the massing of the Holiday Harbor project and how it would affect the area.

Rosario told the audience that Gruen Associates followed Beaches and Harbors’ parking study, a reply which drew laughter from the audience. The county’s parking lot study had been criticized by some members of the public for faulty traffic counts and claims that the parking lots were underutilized as an attempt to use them for development instead.

Answering a boater’s question about why there was no rendering for the Boaters Hub, Rosario said that no visuals had been developed yet.

“We know improvements are needed, like boat washing facilities, and we heard you want to keep an area to put boats into the water. Please include these issues in your comments,” she said.

Local resident Carla Andrus said she knows the department is aware of the community’s interest in a master plan, and that is much more important than spending money on this plan. Andrus added that with a master plan, different parcels can be looked at and how they connect to Marina Beach.

“There’ll be time and money to enhance Marina Beach but it’s not a priority over a master plan, and what could be done now is to clean up the beach and pay the $300,000 fine to the Regional Water Quality Control Board that was imposed for the sewage runoff into D Basin and into the water at the beach,” claimed Andrus. “Let’s clean the water, fix the walkway, and put this project on the shelf.”

One speaker asked Rosario to take into account that the Marina is a unique facility for boating, and that there are now only three other places in Los Angeles County dedicated for boating. He said that adding boat rentals to an already crowded area with no room for expansion takes up even more space.

Rosario told the audience that the proposal includes some type of facility for small boats to dock near the beach.

Nancy Vernon Marino said residents have asked the county for years for a community-based, planned approach that is comprehensive and looks at land use, but she claimed that instead, the county is intensifying the commercial and private development on this public land that was bought for the express purpose of recreation.

She reminded the audience that a plaque in front of the Beaches and Harbors office states, “This great recreational facility is dedicated to the enjoyment of residents of Los Angeles County.”

Now, the existing recreational facility, which is only six percent of the entire land area of the Marina, while 64.8 percent is devoted to private uses under private control and leases are being extended, she said. However, there are 30 additional acres that are currently zoned for parks or parking only, said Marino of We ARE Marina del Rey.

Rosario told the audience that there’s a plan by the county department of transportation for connecting Admiralty Way to Via Marina.

Local resident and boater Dorothy Franklin said she was completely against the plan, and that “cutting off what little space we have creates a traffic bottleneck.”

Marina resident Lynne Shapiro said she would like to see an analysis of projected population growth that increases the demand for recreational facilities and a corresponding analysis for the demand of public parking.

“They talk about putting in 536 apartments right up the road and taking one of our parking lots, and a 19-story hotel and Jamaica Bay Inn is much bigger than it was. The county is going to increase the population, and we’re being left with just Mothers Beach,” said Shapiro.

Rosario replied, “We hoped that we would keep this as a recreational facility, but also for people that are visiting from some other place. Each constituency wants Mothers Beach as its own, but everyone has the right to use the facility.”

MARINA BEACH CONCEPT PLAN—

Five areas encircling Marina Beach would comprise a “signature place for all” — The Promenade, Marina View Plaza, The Overlook, The Oasis and the Boater’s Hub.

The Promenade’s character would be circulation, with strolling, a public/emergency access, and a connection, including beach services.

Marina View Plaza is envisioned as an open public plaza for sunbathing, relaxing, strolling, farmers and fish markets, picnicking and volleyball.

The Overlook’s image would be dynamic, contemporary and playful, for festive and cultural activities, offering a playground, picnic area and temporary boat berthing.

The Oasis, which already has palm trees, is designed for leisure activities, with a relaxed, peaceful image, featuring beach showers, seating, temporary beach spa cabanas, public art, and the addition of more trees, Rosario said.

The Boater’s Hub is designed to be active, operational and recreational. It would offer boat storage and rental, boat launching and washing, and provide restrooms.

Gruen Associates’ conceptual plan would retain current recreational activities such as volleyball, children’s play equipment, sailing, cycling, boats-for-hire, relaxing on the beach, viewing marina activities, picnicking and barbecues.

The plan introduces recreational opportunities that would include a pedestrian promenade with a design character specific to the project; improved linkages to the surrounding hotels, residential units and retail; interactive water features, paddleboats; hardscaped public spaces with direct water access; spa facilities; small-scale public gardens; and a children’s water park, according to Gruen Associates.

Stakeholder issues from previous public comment were also summarized in the presentation, including:

Water quality; development on Parcels 33 NR/IR; concern with overdevelopment; loss of parking; new developments/cohesive and compatible; improvement of pedestrian connectivity; integration of leasehold developments with waterfront promenade; multiple interest groups; new facility for recreational boating and reserve parking for boating; retention of existing loading/unloading boating area; kayak rental near pier; and a snack bar away from the boating facility.

The concept plan will be presented at the Wednesday, April 21st meeting of the Marina del Rey Design Control Board.

Comments can be e-mailed to Beaches@bh.lacounty.gov/, or mailed to: Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, Attn: Planning Department, 13837 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292.

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