The County Department of Beaches and Harbors is seeking public input on a proposed major redevelopment around Marina Beach, called “Mothers Beach” by locals.
The county plan calls for a 20-foot-wide pedestrian promenade around the beach, new facilities for storing kayaks and small boats, in-the-water boat slips for smaller boats and short-time visiting boats.
The proposal includes two floating docks that would have slips on one side for boats of 12 feet and shorter and larger slips on the other side of the docks for boats up to 30 feet in length.
The plan would be designed to integrate with three projects proposed by developers — Waterside east of Palawan Way, Jamaica Bay Inn on Admiralty Way and a Marriott Residence Inn on a present county parking lot adjacent to the corner of Admiralty Way and Via Marina.
Under a separate plan, the county is considering renaming Admiralty Way and Via Marina “Marina Parkway” between Fiji Way on the south end of Admiralty Way and Pacific Avenue on the south end of Via Marina.
Tuesday morning, November 1st, at a meeting of the newly renamed Marina Affairs Committee of the Westchester/LAX-Marina del Rey Chamber of Commerce, Dusty Crane, County Beaches and Harbors Department marketing specialist, said the Marina Beach proposal is in the earliest stage of “conceptual planning.”
“The community needs to give us its input and communication,” Crane told the chamber members.
She said the “most exciting” aspect of the county proposal deals with the east side of the Marina Beach area, where new facilities for boating are planned (marked F, G and H on the schematic rendering).
Crane admitted that the water and beach area available “is really small” and even smaller during tidal action.
“We tried to utilize the area of the beach” that would allow the county the greatest opportunity to expand boating facilities, Crane said.
Planned are “more racks for larger (rowing) shells” and a new administrative building for staff that will be active at the Marina Beach (in the area marked F on the rendering).
Under the portion of the 20-foot promenade that will line the east side of the water area, the county plans a storage area so that rowers can store their boats (in the area marked G on the rendering), Crane said.
She called the proposed storage area a “boat barn” and compared it to a proposed boat storage for larger boats that the county plans near Burton Chace Park.
The floating dock (marked H on the rendering) would have a boat boarding area at its southwestern end, which the county could use as a boat shuttle stop.
Crane said the shuttle stop could also be used as a boarding area for other types of shuttles that might carry passengers to and from Marina restaurants, as long as the boarding stops are not lengthy.
Crane said one of the biggest challenges the county faces is to preserve picnic shelters on the western side of the Marina Beach.
She acknowledged that homeless people are using the area and the picnic shelters get much use from the general public.
Where the picnic shelters now exist (marked D on the rendering), Marriott Residence Inn plans to build a new hotel.
But that project has run into some controversy at the County Marina del Rey Design Control Board regarding height and a required pedestrian access between the intersection of Admiralty Way and Via Marina and the beach.
That pedestrian access would run between two buildings that Marriott Residence Inn would build.
County renovation plans call for the retention of the present wheelchair ramp that allows the handicapped to enter the water, but the existing wheelchair ramp might be moved elsewhere along the beachfront, Crane said.
One of the biggest issues at the Marina Beach is the quality of water. For years, water adjacent to the beach has received high pollution ratings.
The county has made various attempts to get rid of the bacteria in the water, including using thin wires designed to keep birds from landing at the site.
Crane said the water problem has to do with a lack of aeration of the water that would “stir up” the water and allow the bacteria to be burned off by the sun.
Earlier, the county tried rotating fans but they failed to adequately aerate the water.
Now, the county plans to install two large fans which county staff members say will do a better job of moving the polluted water around, bringing water at the bottom of the basin to the top, where the water will be exposed to the sun.
“Hopefully, we plan to add the fans in the next 12 months,” Crane said.
Crane is also optimistic that boat owners who moor their boats near the beach will improve their own personal discharge activities to improve the quality of the water in the area.
Some chamber members at the Tuesday morning meeting told Crane that the county needs to improve the quality of the water at the beach before the county starts its big project.
Chuck McGuire, Foghorn Harbor Inn co-owner, told Crane that the county completely ignored his parcel, which includes the Cheesecake Factory (marked C on the rendering) when the county put together its proposed plans for the beach area.
McGuire said the county plan “takes away” a portion of his parcel and makes it impossible for him and his partner to seek a lease extension because they will have nowhere to redevelop their parcel.
The county proposal envisions using existing parking for The Cheesecake Factory for a park and would move the parking to a new parking structure (marked B on the rendering).
Under the county proposal, Cheesecake Factory patrons would drop off their vehicles at a valet at the restaurant. The valet would then drive the vehicle over a new curved road to the new parking structure.
Critics say having valet vehicles crossing what is supposed to be a park for families and children and access to the beach makes no sense and endangers those who try to cross the park through the valet traffic to get to the beach.
Consultant Patricia Younis, who is a vice chair of the chamber committee, told Crane that the county must hold many outreach efforts with the public concerning the Marina Beach proposal.
“There are so many questions and this is such a big deal,” she said, adding that the proposal impacts numerous Marina businesses.
Crane said the county plans such outreach programs and promised to return to the chamber committee after the New Year with more definitive plans for the proposal.
She said the county is also seeking public input in focus groups concerning the Marina water shuttle so that the water shuttle will receive “better use” from the public.