By Joe Piasecki
The operators of Fisherman’s Village are contemplating a near-total rebuild of the venerable tourist attraction as Los Angeles County officials prepare a new vision for the harbor likely to involve a larger retail footprint, transportation upgrades and more dock space for recreational boaters and kayakers.
Fisherman’s Village staff displayed preliminary conceptual renderings of new structures that would replace the area’s existing five wooden buildings but retain its iconic lighthouse during a meeting of the county’s Marina del Rey Design Control Board and Dept. of Beaches and Harbors on Oct. 30
Pacific Ocean Mgmt., leaseholders of the county-owned 1.2-acre parcel, have not yet submitted plans for county approvals, so the drawings are speculative at best, said Gina Natoli, supervising regional planner for the Los Angeles County Dept. of Regional Planning.
Since April, county officials have been conducting a public “visioning” process to guide an upcoming overhaul of master planning documents that govern the harbor.
“The purpose of the visioning is to understand what the community and stakeholders would like their community to be in the future, what amenities are currently missing, what parts of the community’s character they’d like to maintain and what they want to see more or less of in the future,” Natoli said.
The renderings exploring upgrades to Fisherman’s Village were created by the leaseholders and aren’t part of the county’s planning process.
Pacific Ocean Mgmt. spokeswoman Pat Younis said the company is holding off on cementing a final proposal until the county has completed its community plan revisions.
The drawings were made public during the meeting to show residents that the company is listening to concerns that Fisherman’s Village needs and overhaul, she said.
“There’s been outcry to have new buildings come in while honoring the icon that Fisherman’s Village has been all these years,” said Younis. “Our goal is to proceed as quickly as possible, but we don’t want to get ahead of the visioning process. The intent at the meeting was to give an idea of what we’d like to propose.”
The last major update to the county’s overall zoning blueprint for Marina del Rey came in 1996, after Ballona Wetlands property was transferred out of county jurisdiction.
After public hearings and surveys of hundreds of stakeholders, officials will unveil a vision statement for the plan in December and begin crafting the document next year, Natoli said.
But residents and other stakeholders have already sent clear messages to improve water, vehicle and pedestrian access, she said.
These include enhanced amenities for non-motorized boats, kayaks and outrigger canoes as well as increased access to the harbor for boaters and sailors approaching from the water.
Overall, “People would like to see more mobility, making it easier for people to get around the marina,” Natoli said. “They’d like to see different kinds of [additional] restaurants and a more user-friendly retail presence. And more places to stroll and wander — to just sit by the water — so an environment that’s more pedestrian friendly.”