As Marina del Rey nears its inevitable refit, the politics surrounding it are the topic of many conversations along the docks amongst the boating public.
The boaters’ chosen nemesis — Los Angles County and the development companies that are planning to build on the county- owned site — are publicly ensuring Marina boaters that they are at the forefront of concerns, but anxiety and doubt are certainly the predisposition of most of the boaters to be found.
A broad question was asked of a few randomly selected boaters during a walk along the docks to get a general feel for the current atmosphere from a boat owner’s perspective.
Unfortunately, many of the people who were asked to participate in the answering of this question, smiled and politely refused.
In fact, one dockmaster said, “I’d love to help, but that would be political suicide.”
And a yacht broker grinned while saying, “There’s a lot I could say about this subject that you would find very interesting, but I can’t speak about it.”
Redevelopment of the Marina is an extremely complicated and controversial matter that provokes genuine passion in most members of the boating community.
How do you think the impending Marina del Rey redevelopment will affect you personally?
Terry Stringfellow replied:
“I’ve been in my slip here in G Basin for the last eight years.
“The maintenance has been poor to nonexistent,” he alleged, “but they tell us they want to redevelop — yet they won’t take care of what they have to start with.
“The developers come in with big stories of wonderful things and big tall buildings, which, by the way, block the wind and make it difficult to sail in here.
“They sell it to the would-be apartment owner and completely bypass what the boaters want.
“Now they only want our boats as a backdrop so they can get more money for their rent.
“They’re looking to fill it up with 50- and 60-foot slips and my question is, ‘Where are you going to find all these 50- and 60-foot boats?’
“There’s a few, but not enough to fill up the Marina. The loser in all this is the small boater — boaters with boats under 35 feet.
“There’s a lot of these people in here with boats in the 20-to-25-foot range that are simply going to end up letting their boats drift out to sea — calling it quits.
“My fears for myself are that it is going to get so expensive here that I’ll have to go somewhere else and I don’t want to have to go anywhere else.”
Matt Schultz said:
“As a yacht surveyor, the development could affect my business life in a positive way.
“It’s more efficient for me to survey larger boats, but there are other aspects of the development that I don’t like.
“People with smaller boats might get pushed out and that’s the part I don’t like.
“It doesn’t affect me personally, but there are a lot of people here who can’t afford larger boats, so it sort of becomes a form of elitism.”
Rudy Pel said:
“I’ve owned sailboats since 1969 — most of that time I’ve been in Marina del Rey.
“Lately, it’s been getting worse and worse here. The traffic is getting worse and slips are not available.
“I don’t see a good future here for the boaters of Marina del Rey.
“More and more boaters are getting pressed out. We’ve lost about 2,000 slips and I’m disgusted by what’s happening.
“For myself, I’m afraid there will come a day that I won’t be able to afford my slip fee anymore.”
Charlie Ecker said:
“I’m personally concerned about all this, not only for the obvious reasons of traffic congestion and all of that, but as a sailor, I’ve detected, over the last ten years or so, the wind patterns have changed since the construction of some of the new condominiums.
“It’s becoming harder and harder to sail in the harbor — at least up in the northern end.
“I know that might be a minor thing to some people, but this was supposed to be a small craft harbor where you could go out on a day when it isn’t nice enough to go out in the ocean, and still sail around the harbor.
“It hasn’t gotten to a super critical point yet, but if they keep building all these high-rise buildings — with the way the wind patterns are, with wind tunnel effects and all of that — it could be a significant detriment, at least to sailors.
“I just think, in general, Marina del Rey has become seriously overbuilt for what they’ve got. I’m concerned that they’re going to reach the saturation point.”
Pierson Jacquelin, a new boat tenant, said:
“I’ve been in my slip one month and I can see that there’s a premium on dock space.
“I’ve heard that the other side is being set up for bigger boats, which obviously takes away the smaller slips, but I don’t really have any concerns for myself at this point.
“The concern I do have is that with more people comes more trash and it all leads to more stuff getting washed into the ocean.
“I became aware of that problem acutely when I sailed to Hawaii and was amazed at how much plastic there is in the ocean.
“We couldn’t go five minutes without seeing a Coke bottle or a wrapper every single day.”