Local businesses and Marina residents criticized a strategic plan designed to improve public areas at Mothers Beach in Marina del Rey.

T. Keith Gurnee of RRM Design Group discussed the plan for Mothers Beach during the County Marina del Rey Design Control Board meeting Thursday, October 20th.

RRM Design Group had been hired by the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors to develop a strategic plan to improve the entire area of Mother’s Beach with a waterfront pedestrian promenade, relocation of picnic tables and general improvements taking into consideration the Marina area in its entirety.

At the original presentation of the strategic plan to the Design Control Board May 23rd, Gurnee said his group had already held meetings with lessees and members of the public who frequent the beach area.

Design Control Board member Katherine Spitz said she had no knowledge of the project details and this was her first viewing of the strategic plan.

Spitz said the proposed project seemed to be heading for a final plan presentation but not enough is known about the substance of the project.

Peter Phinney, Design Control Board member, said he, too, was unfamiliar with the details of the plan.

Gurnee told them that design board chair Susan Cloke had originally been contacted for a potential meeting, as had Phinney.

Gurnee alleged that Cloke had said it was “inappropriate” for her to meet with the urban design consultant and Phinney had scheduled such a meeting but later canceled because of another commitment.

If more than two members of the control board attended such a meeting, the action would constitute a quorum, and require advance public noticing under the state Brown Act.

Phinney said he was totally unaware of the nature of that meeting and said he wants to meet with Gurnee and Cloke.

Lack of community knowledge about the project and participation in the strategic plan were cited by one resident, who requested an evening meeting of the Design Control Board or some other form of public meeting to allow the public to participate in the plan process.

Stan Wisniewski, director of Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, said the public would have an opportunity to attend a meeting on the strategic plan at a future time to be announced.

Attorney Richard Hamlin, representing Marina Properties; David Levine, president of the Marina Lessees Association; and consultant Pat Younis voiced concerns about the proposed plan.

Hamlin claimed that the strategic plan would take away 50 to 80 parking places from The Cheesecake Factory at 4142 Via Marina, a nearby dry cleaners and an adjacent liquor store.

The county had previously rented out parking space to leaseholders in an adjoining lot — Parcel GR (which has 264 parking spaces) — and the loss of that parking would drastically affect parking and the restaurant’s valet service, said Hamlin.

Levine said this was his first view of the strategic plan, although he had spoken with Gurnee at the beginning of the project in May.

Levine claims that “the submitted plan is predicated on the award of several coastal development permits, and that applications have not yet been filed for these projects.”

“What if the strategic plan’s private leasehold development is not granted a coastal development permit?” Levine wondered.

“I inquired about the cost and implementation of the project and received no reply, nor did I receive a reply on the timing of the implementation,” Levine said.

This is an opportunity for the public and lessees to weigh in on the project, as well as lessees of parcels directly affected by the strategic plan, Levine said.

“As shareholders, the Marina Lessees Association, as it has over the past 40 years, will continue to look at the big picture by taking a realistic view, asking questions, and seeking the best interests of the Marina,” Levine said.

Wisniewski requested that Levine compile and present questions from the Marina lessees within five days regarding the strategic plan.

Levine said he would comply with the director’s request.

Younis said that the strategic plan has many positive qualities, but that feedback from the entire community, including hotels and businesses is critical to stimulate participation in such a large project.

CAPRI APARTMENTS —

A request for a temporary banner advertising leasing for Capri Apartments, at 13953 Panay Way, was approved for a six-month period with a condition that illegal signage put up by the applicant be removed.

County Beaches and Harbors Department staff noted that the applicant, Capri Apartments, already has seven signs on the buildings that did not receive approval from the county and had to be removed immediately by the applicant.

A representative for Capri Apartments said he thought that he didn’t need approval for “Grand Opening” signs, just leasing signs.

Kerry Silverstrom, County Beaches and Harbors Department chief deputy, said any sign must be requested, and that the lessee for Capri Apartments, Goldrich & Kest, had been lessees in the Marina long enough to understand the rules of signage requirements in the Marina.

Younis asked county staff to revise signage regulations, saying that current regulations are out-of-date, and that businesses in the Marina have to be able to compete with the signage of businesses that surround the Marina but are not under the jurisdiction of Beaches and Harbors Department requirements.

In other new business, the Marina Sheriff’s Department request for a temporary recruitment banner was approved.

Approval was also given to signage for Maison D’Optique, a new sublessee at Waterside Marina Center, and sent for further review and approval by the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning.

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