The Los Angeles County Small Craft Harbor Commission welcomed a new commissioner at its meeting March 10th, when it also rescheduled its monthly meetings to begin at 10 a.m. starting in April.

The commissioners additionally voted to request that a consulting firm working on the county’s bicycle master plan look at developing a bike path within Marina del Rey that would allow bicyclists to travel to the jetty and back, avoiding travel on Washington Boulevard if possible.

Commissioners voted at the meeting to continue discussion of a proposed plan for anchorage replacement at Marina City Club until the next meeting.

Alan Rifkin attended his first meeting as the new commissioner after being appointed by Los Angeles County Third District Supervisor Zev Yarovslavsky to replace Al Landini, Jr, who resigned in September.

Rifkin, a private consultant, earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from UCLA and a master’s degree in transportation from Northwestern University.

He recently retired after 34 years with the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation, and he most recently worked as chief of the bureau of transportation, planning and land use management.

MARINA TOURISM—

Beverly Moore, executive director of the Marina del Rey Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the commission that 2009 ended with a drop in hotel occupancy due to the “disabling effect” the economy has had on tourism. The economic conditions have meant lost sales for local businesses, fewer jobs, and lower tax revenues for the county, said Moore.

Due to strong marketing efforts, the bureau was able to bring in Rose Bowl and Bowl Championship Series (BCS) football championship game fans to the Marina in January, gaining “900 hotel nights just from that push,” she said.

The 900 nights is the equivalent of a 100-room hotel being completely booked for nine nights, resulting in $200,000 in gross hotel revenues, explained Moore. That amount did not include the ancillary spending on food, restaurants in hotels and other sales.

Moore told the audience that the Auto Club’s Westways magazine — one of the largest publications with several million in circulation — had written a great article on day trips in Southern California that included Marina del Rey.

“This didn’t happen by accident. Sometimes a writer does approach a community or company, but this is the result of planning and organizing, hosting the writer for two days almost a year ago, and we are just now seeing the results,” Moore said.

The services of a very experienced public relations firm has helped raise visibility in the area, creating new story angles such as pet-friendly places, greening issues and popular consumer ideas, she noted.

The social media strategy, such as the use of Twitter, Facebook and blogging, in addition to regular information about the Marina from a hospitality point of view, has been very beneficial, she added.

For information on the visitors bureau, www.visitmarinadelrey.com/.

Moore said that one of the most significant things to happen in the tourism industry in years was the recent signing of the Travel Promotion Act by President Barack Obama. Since 1994 the government disbanded its tourism office, and this act creates a national tourism promotion organization that can compete against the rest of the world to draw tourists to the U.S., Moore explained.

“Tourism is a very labor-intensive industry, and nothing could be more important to the issue of economic stimulus and recovery of jobs,” she said.

Tourism generates more jobs than most other industries in Los Angeles and California, creating around 300,000 jobs in Los Angeles County, Moore said.

“We take this seriously and realize that every day a busload of tourists comes to a local hotel, four more housekeepers are called in to work that day, and waiters work more shifts,” Moore said.

LOS ANGELES COUNTY BICYCLE MASTER PLAN —

Los Angeles County is updating its County Bicycle Master Plan — which will include both the City of Los Angeles and the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County — and has begun with public scoping meetings, one of which was scheduled at the Lloyd Taber-Marina del Rey Library Wednesday, March 10th.

Public input is requested for all ideas related to bike paths, locations, and any other bicycle-riding issue.

Individuals are invited to go online and fill out comment cards at www.lacountybikeplan.org/.

(A separate story about updating the bike plan is on page 16)

MARINA CITY CLUB ANCHORAGE REPLACEMENT PLAN—

Eric Alexander, senior vice president of operations for Essex Property Trust, owners and operators of Marina City Club, presented a plan for the replacement of the Marina City Club anchorage.

Alexander said the company is asking for an endorsement from the Small Craft Harbor Commission for the project before it submits the application to the California Coastal Commission.

Alexander said that the property is in dire need of dock renovation.

Tim Bazley of Blue Water Design Group said that trying to make repairs to the anchorage is a “losing battle,” with cracked fingers and out-of-date utilities.

Bazley said that the existing 323 slips and 16 docks will be replaced with 280 slips and 15 docks to comply with Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Department of Boating and Waterways (DBAW) requirements with promenade improvements, construction of a pump-out station, the addition of a water taxi landing and requirements on updating sea wall railings.

Comments or questions on the project can be submitted to the property owners through the county at secretary@bh.lacounty.gov/.

During public comment, boater Jon Nahhas said that three meetings had been scheduled for the same day and it was a “strain on the public” if they were trying to attend all of the meetings, one of which was in downtown Los Angeles. Commissioner Dennis Alfieri said he agreed, and that the county departments should have more communication between departments regarding meetings.

Nahhas also claimed that the comments for the Marina del Rey Local Coastal Program (LCP) Periodic Review were not presented at a night meeting so that more members of the public could attend. He questioned how people can come to the Marina for recreation when the parking fees are so high.

Referring to the bike plan proposal, Nahhas said that a bike path to the jetty, Santa Monica and along the beach would be a great project.

All questions pertaining to the Marina del Rey LCP Review can be e-mailed to: gnatoli@planning.lacounty.gov/.

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