Despite opposition from a group of anti-development advocates, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted May 15 to give the green light to build a public wetlands park and a waterfront pedestrian promenade in Marina del Rey.

The California Coastal Commission has approved an amendment to the Local Coastal Program (LCP) that will permit the construction of a 1.46-acre wetland park on Via Marina. The commission has also granted coastal development permits to build a 19-story, 288-room hotel and timeshare resort and a parking structure near the park.

“This week we moved another step closer to the construction of a nearly one-and-a-half acre wetland park and open space area in Marina del Rey,” said Supervisor Don Knabe, who represents Marina del Rey. “This project reflects the county’s commitment to balancing the updating of the Marina with preserving open space.”

A vocal group of residents who have publicly opposed virtually all development in the Marina staged a protest last fall near the intersection of Via Marina and Marquesas Way, the site where they claim county officials had promised to construct a park for the Marina.

“This is a violation of public trust and we want our park,” said Carla Andrus, a resident of the Marina who organized the rally.

Andrus and her supporters claim county officials and the Coastal Commission are attempting to skirt provisions in a 1996 Marina land use plan by allowing the construction of residential units at Parking Lot 12, the site of the Oct. 1 protest. They allege that building park space is outlined in the land use document.

Department of Beaches and Harbors Chief Deputy Director Kerry Silverstrom said in an interview last year that the county plans to build the park a few blocks away at Tahiti Way and Via Marina, as well as other beachside amenities.

“Parcel FF (the Marquesas Way location) has been designated for open space,” she confirmed. “But we feel that Parcel 9U (the Tahiti Way location) is a much superior location for open space, transient boat slips and a public wetland because of the water basin there.”

According to a staff report, a wetlands consultant hired by the county consulted with the commission’s senior biologist in the preparation on the park’s design.

County officials plan to restore approximately a half-acre of salt marsh vegetation and native fish, daily tidal flushing and foraging areas for egrets, herons and other native and migratory birds.

“This park will include its own parking area and will be available for residents and visitors from across Los Angeles County to enjoy,” Knabe said.

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