The Los Angeles County Small Craft Harbor Commission voted Aug. 10 to support the recommendations for the renewals of lease agreement options for the Neptune Marina and Legacy Partners developments in Marina del Rey.

The commission additionally appointed David Lumian as its new chair and Dennis Alfieri as the new vice chair, effective at the September meeting.

A presentation regarding bicycle access on the strip of land between Ocean Front Walk and the beach was also given by Alan Abramson of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. He said that the county Board of Supervisors is scheduled to approve the Bicycle Master Plan in March 2012.

During public comment, some speakers asked about bicycle access along the stretch of beach, and Abramson said it was not feasible through the leased parcels.

Outgoing commission chair Russ Lesser claimed that “neighborhood opposition and political clout” were the reasons that the proposal for the beach bike path extension was not recommended in the plan. Abramson said the proposal may be physically feasible, but it was not recommended due to connectivity issues.

Other speakers asked about more bike paths along Admiralty Way because of the many residents who own bicycles in the Marina and the high number of bike riders who visit the area on the weekends.

Resident Nancy Vernon Marino said there is a “huge gap” in the Marina bikeway between Marquesas Way and the Marina del Rey Lloyd Taber Library, beginning on Via Marina and then on Admiralty Way.

Marino said she is disappointed that there is no Class III designation for the path around Admiralty Way because so many people ride their bikes in that area. She said the public street connects the beach route and Via Marina, and the path needs to have lane striping as well as access for pedestrians.

Asked if the beach bike path extension was a “dead issue,” Abramson said it might still be considered as part of the bike master plan, which has not yet been finalized. He also said that not everything in the plan would be built over 20 years, noting that funding is critical and it’s up to people to speak out about what they want.

One public speaker, Leslie Dutton, said she walks on the jetty every morning and there are serious bike/pedestrian accidents. She said there is no mention of bike/pedestrian impacts in the plan, and asked Abramson if the county had considered this. Dutton said bike riders come through in large groups and at high speeds, and she and others have been endangered numerous times.

County officials said the Los Angeles Police Department is the law enforcement agency that is responsible for the jetty walkway area.

The county Bike Master Plan is available online at: www.lacountybikeplan.org.

Resident Jon Nahhas told the commission that more personal watercraft like paddle boards and kayaks need to be made available for rental and use by the young and elderly during these difficult economic times. Resident Carla Andrus said that racks should be available for paddle boards, and Lesser said it would encourage rental companies to do business.

Regarding the approval recommendations for Parcel 10R (Neptune Marina) and Parcel FF (Legacy Partners), Marino said the county and the lessee are listed as a single applicant, and claimed that the public never saw the overall plan presented. Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors Deputy Director Gary Jones said while one project was reviewed separately, the California Coastal Commission asked for one application to view cumulative effects.

Jones told the commission that the request for approval of two separate option renewals for Parcels 10R and FF would extend both options for up to a maximum of 54 months because of unanticipated delays by either the county or Legacy Partners Neptune Marina L.P., with regard to the processing of entitlements and satisfaction of other option conditions regarding Legacy’s proposed lease extension and development of 400 new apartments and a new 161-slip and seven end-tie marina on Parcel 10R, and a new coterminus lease for Public Parking Lot 12 (Parcel FF) to build 126 new apartments.

Andrus claimed that in the Land Use Plan the parcel is referred to as a park, with $100,000 in improvement funds attached. Nahhas asked county officials if fees had been collected for Parcel FF to be turned into a park, and Jones replied that Beaches and Harbors had collected no fees for a park.

Jones stated that these options are granted to the developer and must meet conditions, but if the California Coastal Commission doesn’t approve them, the developer won’t be able to exercise the option.

On the subject of the boat slip vacancy analysis, Jones said that the parcels with vacant slips are in the Master Coastal Development Plan, except for one. He said it’s clear that vacancies at these parcels are with smaller slips. The department conducts annual slip surveys, said Jones, to ascertain rates, and it shows that the Marina is “mid-market,” and boaters are looking for value for their money.

Nahhas said the department had already admitted that the Parcel 21 lessee had taken these slips off the market because they didn’t want to evict slip tenants. He suggested that with the bad economy, they rent out the slips anyway because the county needs the money and all slips are required to be rented. Lesser said it was an interesting idea and he wanted to place the subject on the next agenda.

Professor Emeritus of mathematics, Daniel Gottlieb, presented a report to the commission and county staff that alleges a Marina del Rey slip sizing study commissioned by Beaches and Harbors is based on erroneous numbers. Gottlieb states, “The headline is that ‘C’ (a special report by the county to this commission) is totally wrong in a deeply logical way. They divided everything by the same number and tried to hide it by ambiguous column captions. And despite numerous occasions where the failure was brought to the county’s attention, no public repudiation of the special report was made by the Department of Beaches and Harbors.”

In the report Gottlieb distributed to the commission, the county’s responses to his allegations were also listed, stating that the county’s study was accurate in the way it had been performed.

Gottlieb had informed the commission at previous meetings that he is a retired math professor, and as such, credence should be given to his alleged findings of errors in the consultant’s slip sizing study. The Marina del Rey Slip Sizing Study is online at: http://beaches.lacounty.gov.

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