Even though the County Small Craft Harbor Commission failed to have a legal quorum for its monthly meeting last week, those commissioners present — commission chair Harley Searcy and commissioner Russ Lesser —agreed to give “informal vocal approval” to an assignment of the Marina parcel containing the Harbor House Restaurant.

The prospective assignee, The Waterfront-Marina del Rey, LLC — also the developer for a proposed mixed-use project on the parcel, The Waterfront — would be assigned the lease if the assignment is approved by the County Board of Supervisors.

County counsel Tom Faughnan advised the two commissioners present to give the project an informal vocal approval so that the project could be moved forward to the Board of Supervisors.

Searcy asked whether, if assignment approval were given and money paid by the proposed assignee, the assignee could use this process to an advantage later for the developer’s proposed mixed-use project, The Waterfront.

“The proposed leasehold assignee/developer of the mixed-use project would proceed at their own risk,” Faughnan replied.

Stan Wisniewski, Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors director, told the commissioners that the Board of Supervisors had originally approved negotiations with The Waterfront-Marina del Rey LLC for assignment of the parcel and that the County Marina del Rey Design Control Board had already given conceptual approval for the proposed mixed-use project.

Wisniewski said that under the present proposal, the assignee would pay substantially above market value, and last week’s action was taken to make sure the county receives adequate compensation.

Lesser said the prospective assignee was offering more for the property than current fair market value and questioned whether the prospective assignee, The Waterfront-Marina del Rey, LLC, assumed its mixed-use project would be approved simply because the Harbor House parcel lease might be assigned to the assignee.

A representative from the prospective assignee assured the commission that there was no assumption of approval for the mixed-use development even if the lease assignment were to be approved.

Several opponents to the proposed assignment also expressed concern about the approval in public comment.

The Waterfront representative said John Wong — chair of the Los Angeles County Tax Assessor Review Board and a restaurateur — would run the Harbor House restaurant once lease assignment was approved.

TRASH UPDATE — In other action before the Small Craft Harbor Commission, Tim Daly of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works Watershed Management Division reported on a multi-agency project concerning Ballona Creek trash and debris control.

Daly said this is the third year of a ten-year program designed to eliminate trash in the catch basin inserts. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Culver City officials also have responsibility in their jurisdictions to help keep Ballona Creek free of trash.

Probation crews collect trash every weekend, and pick up several cubic yards of trash, Daly said.

Catch basin inserts in storm drains are inspected after a severe storm or at the end of each storm season, said Daly.

MARINA DREDGING —County staff told the Small Craft Harbor commissioners that dredging activity in the Marina entrance channel will be delayed until funds can be found.

The last dredging of the entry channel was completed in 2000, but the commission was told that more than 800,000 cubic yards now need dredging.

TWO ITEMS POSTPONED —Two scheduled items before the commission — approval of a long-term lease for public parking on Parcel 52R and Dock 52 on Fiji Way and consent to an assignment of ownership of the Oakwood Garden Apartments parcel on Via Marina — were postponed due to lack of documentation on both requests and lack of a commission quorum.

PUBLIC COMMENTS —During the public comment period, the commission heard from a small-boat owner and an attorney for the owner of a “floating home” at Panay Way Marina concerning an eviction from Panay Way Marina because of pending dock reconstruction.

The commission also heard comments regarding earlier allegations that work was being done at a dock on a U.S. Coast Guard boat and a party yacht in violation of harbor regulations.

Commission chair Searcy admonished the County Sheriff’s Department, telling sheriff’s representatives that “firm and equitable enforcement was necessary with all boat owners, large and small.”

Sheriff’s Lt. Greg Nelson told Searcy he would follow up on the accusations with the identified parties.

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