Opinion: Can you hear us now?

Posted October 21, 2015 by The Argonaut in Columns

The kings and queens on the Board of Supervisors apparently have little time for the serfs who sustain them

By William Hicks

Pyramid or hotel, the weight that Marina del Rey residents are being asked to pull is for the benefit of someone else Illustration by William Hicks

Pyramid or hotel, the weight that Marina del Rey residents are being asked to pull is for the benefit of someone else
Illustration by William Hicks

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …” Living in Marina del Rey: perfect weather, short walks to the beach and getting to know our neighbors; the constant threat of deforestation, rampant overdevelopment and taxation without representation.

On Oct. 6, some locals took the day off and headed downtown to have their voices heard before the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, appealing a recent decision to build yet another hotel complex in Marina del Rey — this time in a residential area and on the last undeveloped marshland in the marina (Via Marina and Tahiti Way).

They sure didn’t feel heard.

I’m not trying to incite another French Revolution, but I do wish that elected officials would start paying attention to their constituents.

I am the first person to encourage people to vote, write letters to the editor, sign petitions and show up at meetings. But when people do all these things and still feel ignored, the system of public participation breaks down and people start to get angry.

“We look to our elected and appointed officials to keep overdevelopment in check,” Silver Strand Marina Homeowners Association board member Gary Garland said during the meeting, adding concerns about traffic, the environment and public safety.

Even Gary’s 13-year-old son Jackson appealed to the board: “Someday I hope to be in a position of power to do the right thing, like you are. I urge you to please protect this land for future generations.”

Who wouldn’t be moved by that?

The Board of Supervisors, apparently. They unanimously voted to move ahead with the hotel.

My history buff brother tells me it was French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau who created the phrase “Let them eat cake” commonly misattributed to Marie Antoinette; but I don’t misquote Supervisor Don Knabe, who did in fact say “we’re the boss” when speaking of a county lessee’s proposal to deforest the 23 acres of Mariners Village for redevelopment.

I would say the residents of L.A. County who pay Knabe’s salary are his boss, and I hope this can be a wake-up call to the board: You are not kings and queens. You are public servants, and the majority of the public in Marina del Rey does not want a hotel in a residential district; the public wants and needs a public park and a marsh.

OK, so a park and marsh won’t bring in the millions of dollars in revenue that a hotel would, but tourists aren’t the public.

We all like revenue, but if we based every decision on money there would be even worse traffic and no public parks. It’s not the end-all, be-all. Quality of life is, and this improves when there are more parks and less traffic.

Traffic shouldn’t be allowed to get any worse in L.A., which means renovations only and no new developments. There. I said it.

What Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said during the meeting was to call many of those who spoke out against the hotel “selfish and rude.”

I think it’s selfish and rude to waste people’s time with a charade when you clearly had no real intention of changing your position and to sacrifice marina residents’ quality of life to generate more revenue for pet projects.

As attendee Jessica Kurland put it in a letter to Kuehl and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, “public input was simply a formality, and the board’s minds were already made up.”

It’s not a revolution that we need; it’s an evolution from selfishness to respect and cooperation.

Marcia Hanscom of the Ballona Institute, the one who filed the appeal, was given only two minutes to speak.

“I think that part of the breakdown in everything you talked about here is because we are so disconnected with nature, with the planet that sustains us,” she said. “This effort [is] to protect every bit of wild nature we have and make it accessible to the public.”

Who would disagree with that? Again, the Board of Supervisors.

Unless politicians start listening to the people, the steering wheels we grip in our steel and plastic boxes might as well be a rope in the time of the Egyptian pharaohs.

Pyramid or hotel, it’s being built for somebody else at our expense.



    Eloquently and very creatively put, William!!!! Bravissimo!!! I love that Marina del Rey residents are taking a stand for Nature!!!


    What an awesome illustration too!!!

    Carole Lorraine Olmsted Sipos

    We must find more people with a reason to keep our lands safe. I will see who I can recruit.
    After all…One of my ancestors designed Central Park in New York City and no one has developed that!!!’

      William Hicks

      Interesting and funny thing, Carole…I mentioned Central Park as an example in my original column, but it was too long so unfortunately it didn’t make the cut.

      By the way, who was your ancestor?

      As you pointed out, Central Park has not been developed (yet…just kidding…I hope), and neither has Griffith Park. I guess that even politicians and developers have limits, but we need to constantly remind them how important natural and open spaces are for our physical and psychological well-being.


    I agree whole heartedly – the board of supervisors are able to make decisions that the public wants and should listen to their constituents


    Nice article gimme a call at 310-403-8478

    Norma Sayour

    Thank you for all your efforts

    Louise Steiner

    Thank you The Argonaut for publishing Mr. Hicks eloquent letter. Thank you Mr. Hicks for caring enough to write it and send it in.
    ” Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.” Cree saying

      William Hicks

      I do my best to express the truth regardless of what is done with it. Expressing it is my business but what people do with it is none of my business. Thank you for the wonderful comment, Louise!


    It’s not just the Marina. I’m the founder of the modern day sex trafficking movement. I’m the founder of the oldest and largest program of survivors. Yet these people keep talking about “sex trafficking” with people that have no idea what they’re doing, aren’t survivors, and are only in this to further pimp and exploit us. When we’re not involved – it’s pimping. Los Angeles was where this movement was born – and grew because of men with vision such as mayor Tom Bradley. What’s happened? I have no clue. http://www.sexworkersanonymous.com


    I think that Mr Hicks raises an important question on why the Board of Supervisors make the decisions that the local residents should be making? If they don’t live here, why do they get to decide on how much more traffic and people and hotels and overpriced housing this area can withstand? I was born and raised in SoCal and when the residents in my hometown got a petition together to protest a new development in the neighborhood, it was decided that yes, a public park would be a better option. I still have the letter that was sent to my mother by the local councilman telling her this. I think the Board of Supervisors should do whatever they do for Los Angeles and have a smaller elected or appointed local board making these kinds of decisions based on what each neighborhoods residents want. After all, we’re the ones who pay taxes to live here.

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