Project would result in loss of hundreds of boat slips

BY HELGA GENDELL

The Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors is seeking a master waterside coastal development permit in conjunction with six lessees for a proposed project that would result in the collective loss of 480 boat slips.

A presentation on the permit project was given to the county Small Craft Harbor Commission at a special night meeting July 13. County staff told the audience that a proposal for the Parcels 49/77 development has been rejected and is now off the table.

The Parcels 49/77 Project would have been located on Admiralty Way between Fiji and Mindanao Ways, and proposed a water-oriented commercial or mixed-use project with enhanced boater-serving facilities.

The Department of Beaches and Harbors, in conjunction with six Marina del Rey lessees, is acting collectively (referred to as applicant) for a master waterside coastal development permit (Master CDP) for Marina reconstruction.

The applicant is proposing to rebuild seven aging marinas. County officials said the current number of boat slips for the seven parcels is 1,826. Planned slips will total 1,346, resulting in a total loss of 480 slips.

Marina del Rey has 21 individual recreational marinas, most of which were built in the early 1960s and 1970s, according to county documentation.

Eight of these marinas have already been replaced: Parcel 12 — Esprit I, 2008; Parcel 13 — Villa del Mar, 1989; Parcel 18 — Dolphin, 1999; Parcel 20 — Panay Way, 2006; Parcel 54 — Windward Yacht Center, 1997; Parcel 111 — Marina Harbor, 2006; Parcel 112 — Marina Harbor, 2004; and Parcel 132 — California Yacht Club, 1985, states county documentation.

Seven more marinas — Parcel 8 (Bay Club); Parcel 10 (Neptune); Parcel 21 (Holiday Harbor); Parcels 42/43 (Marina del Rey Hotel); Parcel 44 (Pier 44); Parcel 47 (Anchorage 47); and Parcel 125R (Marina City Club Marina) have replacement plans, mostly in connection with lease extensions and redevelopment or renovation projects, as they have outlived their original life expectancy and require constant maintenance in order to remain operational, according to county documentation.

Of the remaining six marinas, one marina (Parcel 15, Bar Harbor) already has regulatory approval for replacement, and one (Parcel 7, Tahiti Marina), will be replaced in approximately 10 years by-and-large with its current configuration.

The remaining marinas —Parcels 28, Mariner’s Bay; Parcel 30, Del Rey Yacht Club; Parcel 41, Catalina Yacht Anchorage; and Parcel 53, the Boatyard — have no near-term plans to rebuild and are being maintained in acceptable or better conditions, according to the county.

County officials said that reconstruction of marinas when they are obsolete or in poor condition is a significant step in maintaining the availability of recreational boating for the public, and that the seven marinas combined as the applicant were constructed between 1964 and 1972, comprising 58 percent of the oldest docks in Marina del Rey (those built /replaced pre-1980).

The Master CDP includes the anchorage reconstruction for seven parcels (8, 10, 21, 42/43, 44, 47 and 125), four of which have already been approved by the Small Craft Harbor Commission previously (Parcels 8, 10, 21 and 125), according to county officials.

Two parcels, (42/43 and 44), will be brought before the commission after consideration of the proprietary terms by the county Board of Supervisors. This step doesn’t affect the processing of the entitlements, which is a separate matter.

With respect to these parcels, the commission has previously seen the projected slip loss for each marina in the Noble Right Sizing Study (2009) and one parcel (44), has been approved by the Marina del Rey Design Control Board (DCB). Parcel 47, as well as the proposed Burton Chace Park dock improvements, was already presented to the SCHC at a prior meeting, said county officials.

The total number of slips at each parcel and the projected number of slips lost are:

Parcel 8 — current slips 231, planned slips 207, 24 slips lost; Parcel 10 — current slips 184, planned slips 161, 23 slips lost; Parcel 21 — current slips 183, planned slips 92, 91 slips lost; Parcels 42/43 – current slips 348, planned slips 277, 71 slips lost; Parcel 44 — current slips 391, planned slips 237, 154 slips lost; Parcel 47 — current slips 173, planned slips 94, 79 slips lost; and Parcel 125 — current slips 316, planned slips 278, 38 slips lost.

County officials said that the total combined loss of 480 slips from these seven marinas represents slightly more than 96 percent of the 498 average 2009 monthly slip vacancies and 82 percent of the average 582 slip vacancies in 2010. The largest slip loss occurs in the two smallest size categories (18 to 25 feet and 26 to 35 feet), which have the highest number of vacancies.

The number of slips remaining overall in Marina del Rey after the reconstruction of the seven marinas, according to size category, will be: 745 slips in the 18-25 foot category; 1,766 slips in the 26-35 foot category; 1,379 slips in the 36-50 foot category; and 369 slips in the 51-foot plus, for a total of 4,253 slips, county officials said.

To help offset the loss of smaller slips, increased dry storage is being planned for Marina del Rey, said county officials. A dry-stack project previously approved by the commission, Boat Central, is also being planned on Parcels 52/GG (up to 346 stacked boats and 30 mast-ups), as well as part of the proposed Parcel 44 slip redevelopment adding 234 dry-stack spaces. In total, there would be 580 dry-stack slips constructed.

County officials said that the factors influencing marina design and slip replacement are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations and Department of Boating and Waterways (DBAW) design guidelines.

Compliance with ADA requirements and DBAW guidelines causes a reduction in the total number of slips provided, as well as requires marinas built in the 1960s to revise their existing configurations, said county staff.

Current DBAW guidelines call for wider fairways, wider slips for powerboats and sailboats, and wider fingers than were used in the 1960s and 1970s. Requirements for ADA compliance call for increased dock and finger widths and increased ramp gradients.

Even if the exact same slip distributions that currently exist were desired by the individual applicants, they wouldn’t be possible because the existing footprints must change due to the modern requirements for marinas, said county staff.

PUBLIC COMMENT—

One speaker said that small boat owners are hit harder during this economy and that the county should work more closely with them because these are the boaters that contribute more to the local industry than larger boat owners.

Daniel Gottlieb, a retired math professor, claimed that the numbers for the boat slip survey contracted by the county are wrong, and that he had brought the subject up a few months ago.

“If a professor of math is telling you that it’s wrong, you should be troubled, and check to see if it’s true. Then there should be a concern of how this could carry up the chain,” said Gottlieb.

“If something is wrong, over time that has more of an effect than making a late correction. If what they are trying to say is false, and if people in leadership aren’t correcting the problem, that’s very serious,” Gottlieb claimed.

One local boater claimed that the vacancy rate for small boats was artificially created and the price keeps going up for slips. He asked why double-wide slips aren’t planned because they allow more flexibility for docking and allow more slips in the same footprint of water.

Santos Kreimann, director of Beaches and Harbors, said double-wide slips were inefficient with water space and usually only one boat uses a double-wide slip.

Another speaker said Kreimann’s claim that it’s impossible to redevelop the docks without losing slips has been disproven by redevelopment in other harbors.

Nancy Vernon Marino, co-founder of the group We ARE Marina del Rey, alleged that the Master CDP was further piece-mealing of projects by the county, and that landside considerations couldn’t be ignored when looking at slip reconfigurations.

She reminded the audience that the California Coastal Commission had said no more slips under 35 feet should be reduced.

She said inadequate outreach had been done for this evening meeting since all registered boat owners in Los Angeles County had not been notified of the meeting and the county had no intention of notifying them.

After questions were raised about the bundling of parcels in the Master CDP, Kreimann said it had been done because of economics and the individual resources of the Coastal Commission.

The cost of requesting a permit for each marina on a separate basis is much higher, said Kreimann, adding that the Coastal Commission is understaffed.

John Nahhas of the Boating Coalition and LA Mariner.com alleged that the county wants to develop the Marina for financial enrichment. He claimed that six marinas that need redevelopment aren’t on the Master CDP list, and that 360 parking spaces for boaters valued at $63 million will be redeveloped for other uses.

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