The Los Angeles County Small Craft Harbor Commission has recommended approval of the option for an amended and restated lease for the renovation of a Marina del Rey hotel, but declined approval for a dock redevelopment plan for six parcels of water areas surrounding Burton Chace Park peninsula.

At its Dec. 14 meeting, the commission asked to have more information about the park project at its next scheduled meeting.

The item not approved and tabled for the next Small Craft Harbor Commission meeting was a request for approval of a dock redevelopment plan for Parcels 44 (portion), 47, 48, 49, 77 and EE, which surround the proposed expanded Burton Chace Park. The county asked for authorization for county Department of Beaches and Harbors Director Santos Kreimann to have plans prepared to solicit a Request for Proposals for a design-build contract to reconstruct the docks.

The county owns and operates the park (Parcel EE) as well as the adjacent properties – Anchorage 47 (Parcel 47, which includes the Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club), the Boathouse (Parcel 48), Dock 77 boat storage parcel (Parcel 77), and the landside of Parcel 44 (portion), and has an option to purchase a portion of the Parcel 44 waterside.

The following information is from county documentation:

Waterside improvements of these parcels include for-rent boat slips at Anchorage 47 and Parcel 44 (portion), transient docks on Parcel EE, in-the-water berthing for the county-operated Water Awareness Training Education and Recreation (WATER) program and the Sea Scouts on Parcel 48, and temporary docking for the FantaSea One charter vessel on Parcel 77. Many of the slips in the county-operated Anchorage 47 are in a deteriorated condition and require replacement as soon as possible. Similarly, the slips in the Parcel 44 (portion) anchorage also require replacement and would be reconstructed following the county exercise of its option to purchase this leasehold consisting of 159 boat slips.

Noble Consultants, Inc., one of the department’s consulting harbor engineers, has prepared a dock plan for the Burton Chace Park peninsula, which includes the water area of Parcels 44 (portion), 47, 48, 77 and EE, and an additional public dock at Parcel 49. All of the existing docks are to be replaced with new modern docks in a phased-out replacement over several years.

Due to the poor condition of the existing slips, the first phase will begin at the westerly end of the Parcel 47 docks and continue in phases to the easterly end of Parcel 44 (portion) with the transient slips on Parcels EE and 48 to follow. The new recreational floating dock at Parcel 77 for storage of small boats will begin prior to, or concurrent with, the first phase so this public benefit project could be completed as early as possible to satisfy the increased needs of rowers.

The construction of an additional public dock at Parcel 49 is contingent on securing grant funding from the California Department of Boating and Waterways (DBAW).

There are 332 existing for-rent slips on Parcels 47 and 44 (portion), 110 of which are configured in double slips (55 double slips). Parcel 47 has 173 slips and Parcel 44 (portion) has 159 slips. Upon project completion, the total number of slips will be reduced by 50 to a total of 282 slips.

Previously, based on the Marina del Rey Slip Sizing Study, the redeveloped Marina would have lost a more significant 144 slips due to a variety of factors, including wider fairways for vessel turning as recommended by DBAW, Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, the elimination of double slips, and market demand for larger boats.

After gathering input from boaters, including Anchorage 47 slip tenants and Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club members, the department has decided that pursuing an in-kind replacement plan for this county-owned and operated anchorage is more appropriate. Department officials say it would lessen the number of slips lost and maintain a larger supply of small slips providing Marina del Rey lessees with more flexibility to pursue a slip replacement program that would address the new code requirements and satisfy future market demands.

The minor loss of 50 slips is not expected to cause any displacement of boaters at Anchorage 47 as there are 66 vacant slips (as of October), and Marina del Rey as a whole has a 12.4-percent vacancy rate, or 585 slips.

Parcel EE contains 23 county-operated transient slips that will be reconfigured and expanded to 32 slips. An additional 190 feet of side-tie docking space for a total of 550 feet of side-tie is planned that will allow greater flexibility in accommodating larger transient boats. The county-operated docks in Parcels 48 and 77 will be reconfigured and expanded for small recreational boating uses. Parcel 48 will increase from 10 slips, 18 feet in size or 12 slips that are 32 feet in size.

Parcel 77 will replace its current 14-slip dock with a 485-foot floating dock that will be able to accommodate 20 storage racks capable of holding personal watercraft (kayaks, dinghys, rowing shells) up to 65 feet long. Based on a maximum 18-foot long vessel, the storage racks will have a capacity for 162 small boats. The design of the docks will allow for easy launching and retrieval of small watercraft. In addition, a fourth dock will be added to the launch ramp (Parcel 49) for visiting dinghy tie-up and staging.

Due to the condition of the Chace Park docks, an accelerated replacement schedule is desirable with completion of the required plans and specifications as the first step. These docks are currently included in the proposed master waterside Coastal Development Permit (CDP) application to be submitted to the California Coastal Commission, which has the jurisdiction on issuing CDPs for waterside improvements.

The county and six Marina lessees propose to consolidate all existing waterside redevelopments into one master waterside CDP, including a total of 12 boat dock reconstruction projects. Seven of these are for-rent marinas on Parcels 8, 10, 21, 42/43, 44, 47/45 and 125. The rest are transient and public docks, including a new dock at the boat launch area.

The preparation of the CDP has included outreach to interested parties, especially the tenants on Anchorage 47, including the Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club, to listen to their issues and concerns regarding the proposed reconfigured Anchorage 47 marina. The most recent outreach meeting was held on Nov. 29, and all Parcel 47 tenants were invited. The plans were also presented to the public at the Small Craft Harbor Commission’s meetings of May 13, 2009; June 10, 2009; and Dec. 14, according to county documentation.

Following Small Craft Harbor Commission approval of the dock plans, a design-build RFP will be solicited. Upon reviews of the bids, the Department of Beaches and Harbors will return to the commission to seek approval of a contract with the successful bidder and funding to proceed with replacement of the docks, according to a county report.

During public comment at the commission meeting, the vice commodore of the yacht club said he has some ideas for the slip reconfiguration and was working with his firm to present an alternative to the county’s two proposed plans. The yacht club wants some larger slips as well, the commodore added. Kreimann said he and county staff would meet with the yacht club again to come up with an acceptable plan.

Speakers said there was no material available for the public on this project and Lesser said he wanted to see the plan come back next month “before approving it blindly.”

MARINA INTERNATIONAL HOTEL –

The commission additionally recommended approval of option for the amended and restated lease and adoption of a mitigated negative declaration for the Marina International Hotel at the meeting.

The project is for a major renovation of the existing 134-room hotel, including: all hotel room interiors; building facades; interior and exterior common areas; landscaping; hardscape; and replacement of building systems as may be required by the county.

The major deal points included an extension of the lease by 39 years to Dec. 31, 2067; payment of a $100,000 option fee; requirement of the applicant to spend $11.3 million on improvements; 7.5 percent of gross receipts for hotel room rate paid to the county upon completion of improvements; county participation in gross receipts of additional revenue items; and county participation in sale/re-finance of property. The financial impact is a projected total annual revenue of $490,000 upon stabilization; and increase in county revenue of $251,000 annually.

The approval milestones are: Design Control Board approval of project – Jan. 1, 2009; applicant’s execution of term sheet – Sept. 29, 2009; Board of Supervisors closed session – proceed to option – Feb. 16; circulation of the mitigated negative declaration for public comment – March 10; close of 30-day public comment period – April 9; Small Craft Harbor Commission meeting – Dec. 14; and tentative scheduling for Board of Supervisors meeting – Jan. 8, 2011, according to county documentation.

During general public comment, resident Jon Nahhas told the commission that there are 499 slip vacancies in three or four marinas, while the other marinas are unaffected. He claimed that this was about fees that were increased above normal, and fees that haven’t been balanced out.

He told the commission members that their intervention was needed in the matter.

“This is more than just fixing the swing, this requires you to collectively say ‘let’s do something here,’” said Nahhas.

He said the repercussions are considerable, and claimed that this is only happening in Marina del Rey, not in Washington, Oregon or other areas.

Lesser, the commission chair, asked county staff if this was happening elsewhere in other marinas because of the economy, and was told that this was spreading marina-wide, with other marinas experiencing vacancies in small slips.

Lesser said he’s not sure what the commission could do, but asked the county staff to see a vacancy report from other marinas, including Long Beach.

Daniel Gottlieb, a retired mathematics professor, spoke about parking lots in the Marina, and distributed a DVD by Full Disclosure Network titled “Video Blog #91 – Parking Meters Rob Citizens” to the commissioners. He said the county is representing the Marina as “blighted” and the pricing of slips adds to that impression.

Local resident and boater, Nancy Vernon Marino, said that there are two other meetings regarding the Marina occurring the following day, making it difficult for people to try to attend.

She pointed out that evening meetings, such as this one, are supposed to be for more important, controversial issues. Lesser said that he agreed, and that next year, the night meetings would be set up that way, as was discussed at last month’s meeting.

Nahhas, who didn’t attend the parade, claimed that the holiday boat parade had fewer attendees because it was too expensive to park. He added that fewer people seemed to attend this event and the Fourth of July fireworks because fees of all kinds are higher.

Kreimann noted that the Board of Supervisors had waived all parking fees for the boat parade. He said he had attended the parade, and that some family members had a difficult time getting into the Marina because of the large crowds.

One of the new commissioners who also attended the parade said there was traffic gridlock.

Marino said that while the parade was “wonderful,” the fireworks were disruptive to the bird wildlife and pets, and she suggested that a laser show replace the fireworks.

She also commented on the large boats in the parade, saying she would like it to be more participatory and inclusive. She said when she first moved to the Marina over 20 years ago, there were many more boats and they were small boats.

The Argonaut contacted Holiday Boat Parade President Cindy Williams, who said that this year’s parade had a large attendance and that 43 boats had registered to participate, a record number over the last two to three years. She noted that advertisements for the boat parade and on the parade’s Web site stated that boats of any size were welcome to register, as long as the registration fee was paid. In fact, said Williams, some boats participated without signing up and paying the registration fee.

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