The Los Angeles County Small Craft Harbor Commission has announced that the California Department of Boating and Waterways (CDBW) would become a division of the state Department of Parks and Recreation under an operational plan effective July 3, 2013.

In other business, the commission approved the recommendation of a lease amendment for the Del Rey Shores personal warehouses in Marina del Rey, and heard a presentation about the Department of Beaches and Harbors website update at its July 11 meeting at Burton Chace Park.

At the commission’s May 9 meeting, Anne Sacks, a representative of the Recreational Boaters of California (RBOC), a boater’s advocacy group, voiced concerns about the loss of funding that DBW would accumulate from boater fees and permits potentially being spent on other areas if the department were part of Parks and Recreation. The loss of autonomy, funding of grants for boater safety programs, and the question of who would be making decisions about spending those funds were other concerns mentioned.

In a May 30 letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, David Lumian, chair of the Small Craft Harbor Commission, stated, “We stand strongly in opposition to any change at the state level which would adversely affect recreational boating resources, coastal beaches, boating safety, boater education, and public access to our valuable marine environments.

“The CDBW has efficiently carried out its many duties and administered the Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund that distributes millions of dollars in grants and loans to improve access to the water for recreational boating and to ensure that boating is as safe as possible. Therefore, it is vital that CDBW remains a separate entity to continue to provide safe and convenient public access to California waterways, and to have independent funding and resources to address the needs of the California boating community,” said Lumian.

On June 13, an Assembly Special Committee met to discuss the plan to integrate DBW into Parks and Recreation and what the committee called the lack of transparency of information dispersed to the boating public. Committee chair and state Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, who represents San Ramon, and fellow Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian, who represents San Luis Obispo, co-authored Assembly Bill 737 to attempt initiating the Boating and Waterways Commission, and to include a boater representative seat on the Parks and Recreation’s State Parks Commission. The bill would provide statutory authority to the new commission to look into and advise the Division of Boating and Waterways, but would not include consent authority.

At its Dec. 14 meeting, the Small Craft Harbor Commission asked county staff to negotiate with the lessee on the lease provision prohibiting downward adjustment of the minimum rent.

Commissioners also requested a further analysis on the current percentage rates in comparison with the market rates. At the April 11 meeting, county staff reported that staff and the lessee met on March 15 and agreed that following the March adjustment, future adjustments would increase the annual minimum rent or maintain it at the then current amount. County staff also told the commission that based on further analysis, the existing percentage rents of the lease are consistent with market rates and would remain the same until the next adjustment.

Gary Jones, deputy director of asset management and planning for Beaches and Harbors, told the commission that an effort to go to arbitration about the rent percentages would cost much more than any gains that might be made in rent increases.

Carol Baker, community and marketing services division chief, additionally presented information on the updated Beaches and Harbors website. She explained that while the site has undergone renovation, it still needs some improvements, and the information technology department is working on providing more easily accessible information.

The website offers a calendar for monthly meetings and announcements about events going on in the Marina.

In addition to information on Marina del Rey and Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey, the site includes public information regarding Los Angeles County, such as Board of Supervisors meetings and how to link to meetings and agendas.

The Beaches and Harbors website is at http://beaches.lacounty.gov.

Lt. Reggie Gautt of the Marina del Rey Sheriff’s Station told the commission that crimes of opportunity are still occurring because people continue to leave valuable possessions such as laptops, GPS units and other items plainly visible in their vehicles, both in the underground parking structures where they live, and while they’re out in the community dining or shopping.

During public comment, local boater Jon Nahhas said the promenade by Esprit I was closed during the Fourth of July for a private party and the public was not allowed in the area at that time.

Jones said the department had not been asked for a permit and was not made aware until after the event, but closing off the promenade area was not permissible. He said the department would meet with the lessee regarding the matter.

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