Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe believes local government can’t and shouldn’t depend on FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to fix problems caused by terrorist attacks, tsunamis, earthquakes or other disasters.

“FEMA’s job is to write the checks afterward,” Knabe told members of the Del Rey Yacht Club last week.

Knabe was the keynote speaker at a “The Marina and its Neighbors” program at the Del Rey Yacht Club Skipper’s Speaker Luncheon Wednesday, January 18th.

Knabe said Los Angeles County is the best prepared in case of emergency compared with other government entities nationwide.

An “On the Road” disaster preparedness program is being developed by county officials to take disaster preparedness information “on the road,” said Knabe.

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the third busiest in the world, and disaster preparedness is in place with mutual cooperation among local entities, said Knabe.

LAX LAWSUIT — Regarding the recent agreement among entities suing Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for proposed airport expansion plans, Knabe said that although the county has agreed to drop its lawsuit against the airport, Knabe is sitting on the sidelines, watching and trusting, but still willing to sue if necessary.

Knabe said he supports improving safety at LAX, but once again he reminded his audience, “I’m on my third mayor (with various LAX master plans) and there are always trust issues.”

The City of Los Angeles still has to redo the plan for LAX, capping passengers with gate capacity limits, he said.

In its expansion plans, The City of Los Angeles was trying to do on 3,500 acres what the city of Denver did on 35,000 acres, Knabe claimed.

MARINA LCP REVIEW — The California Coastal Commission may be ready to review the Marina del Rey Local Coastal Plan (LCP) in May, when the commission meets in San Pedro, Knabe said.

The commission is required by state law to periodically review local coastal programs to see how government entitites are following the terms of the LCPs. But, the commission has long delayed its review of the Marina LCP and critics sued the coastal commission to ensure that such a review was conducted.

TWO MARINA PROJECTS —Knabe said two planned projects in the Marina — a redevelopment of the Marina (Mothers) Beach and Burton Chace Park expansion — would receive public hearings and input “no matter what you’ve heard or read in the papers.”

Yacht club members said traffic on Lincoln Boulevard is impossible with recent construction, and that Culver Boulevard at the Marina (State Route 90) Freeway is no better.

Knabe said that “Caltrans is the bottleneck” regarding Lincoln Boulevard traffic.

Stan Wisniewski, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, said that consultant Barry Kurtz is working with the county to mitigate traffic problems.

BOAT FUEL PRICES — The yacht club members told the supervisor that the high cost of fuel for local boaters and the fact that there is now only one operational fuel dock in the Marina are serious issues for Marina boaters.

One boater said he wanted to bring in a fuel truck that could fuel his boat, and was told by Knabe that such action might be illegal.

Wisniewski advised the audience that fuel prices in the Marina were “at the bottom of average,” to which some boaters replied, “Not true.”

Wisniewski invited boaters to contact his office to look at a report on fuel prices after boaters said they could buy cheaper fuel by going south to other beach cities.

Negotiations for a new fuel dock were approved at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, said Knabe, and when the fuel dock at the Marina has been upgraded it will also be able to fuel larger boats, he said.

Redevelopment at Fisherman’s Village will provide for guest docks, said Wisniewski.

“We’re anxious to get the Fisherman’s Village renovation project approved, but unfortunately we are looking at a three-year timeline,” said Wisniewski.

“The developer has received incentives to move quickly once all approvals and permits have been taken care of,” Wisniewski said.

Public sewage pump-outs were also an issue, with boaters claiming that none are in working condition in the entire Marina.

Wisniewski said his department would “look into every replaced dock requiring a pump-out station” to solve the problem.

Dredging of the north channel of the Marina Harbor was another issue brought up by boaters.

Knabe said the U.S. Coast Guard would oversee the effort by assessing the danger and getting the north channel dredged by summer.

Knabe expressed appreciation to Wisniewski and county staff for getting the recent sewage spill on beaches taken care of in a prompt fashion. The sewage spill was confined to beaches in and south of Manhattan Beach.

COUNTY BUDGET ISSUES — Counties in California such as Los Angeles are forced to balance their budgets, but the state can’t balance its budget and takes funds from cities and counties, Knabe claimed.

During the last ten years, $1 billion has been taken from Los Angeles County by the state, Knabe claimed.

Knabe said that passage of Proposition 1A — passed by state voters in 2004 and scheduled to take effect in 2005 and 2006 — should protect local government revenues by restricting state authority over local government finances.

Passage of Proposition 1A should also prohibit the state from reducing local government’s property tax proceeds, according to Knabe.

Workers compensation costs should be decreased by the passage of Proposition 1A. Workers compensation is both a public and private issue and a labor/ management issue requiring both sides to work together, said Knabe.

Concerning property taxes, Knabe said single-digit growth is anticipated.

Regarding inmate incarceration and population, Knabe noted Los Angeles County is the largest county in the U.S.

Between 22,000 and 24,000 inmates are adults and 3,000 to 4,000 are juveniles, said Knabe.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has new funding of $40 million, with $30 million scheduled for new jail bed facilities, and an anticipated $70 million extra needed for more new jail facilities if the early release program is ended, Knabe said.

COMMODORE HONORED — Knabe presented a certificate of appreciation to Del Rey Yacht Club commodore Irv Bied.

“Boating is like the arts,” said Knabe. “It teaches kids what you need to know in life, to make decisions and exercise discipline.”

Skipper’s Speaker chairman Earl Bubar presented Knabe with the Skipper’s Speaker Trophy.

Bubar is retiring from the post and was praised by yacht club members for continually finding the most interesting people and subjects for the luncheons.

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