A $15-million renovation for the Burton Chace Park anchorage is tailored to meet changing demand, officials say

By Gary Walker

The boat docks at Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey will be getting a $15-million facelift that includes the widening of slips to accommodate larger boats.

Work at Anchorage 47, the county-owned boat parking area that surrounds the park, will result in 11 newly reconfigured docks featuring 253 boat slips with upgraded water, power and sewer infrastructure. The county will also take over nearby Parcel 44, a privately operated docking area, and fold its 100 slips into the Burton Chace Park anchorage.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors gave the project the green light on July 8. Construction is slated to begin in November and wrap up as early as May 2016.

Los Angeles County Beaches and Harbors spokeswoman Carol Baker said the boat slips and docks have been in disrepair for some time and the project is part of a continuing plan to give Marina del Rey a much needed infrastructure upgrade.

“The idea is to have modern-day amenities that boaters desire in Marina del Rey. We’re seeing other anchorages that can accommodate high occupancy [vessel] rates and we want to be competitive with them,” Baker said.

But making slips wider also means that existing space will accommodate fewer of them — Anchorage 47 will lose a total of 77 slips — prompting critics to accuse the county of catering to more affluent seafarers while gentrifying small boat owners out of Marina del Rey.

Officials counter that the majority of the vacant slips in Marina del Rey anchorages are for boats smaller than 35 feet while demand for slips that can accommodate larger, longer vessels is increasing.

The new Anchorage 47 will feature 98 slips for 20- to 25-foot boats, 82 slips for 26- to 30-foot boats and 60 slips for boats more than 30 feet in length, Baker said.

Other planned upgrades include replacement of the pedestrian walkway at the Burton Chace docks with new concrete pavers, new fencing and security lighting and upgrades to the public restroom building.

Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club Commodore Fred Weinhart said the county had been slated to begin the same type of infrastructure repairs five years ago and postponing those upgrades has taken a toll on the club’s membership.

“One of the biggest obstacles to attracting new members are amenities, and because of the condition of the docks we’ve lost a lot of members who have gone to other clubs that have better amenities,” he said.

Drew Curran, whose father owned Cruising Yachts Unlimited/Sailboats Unlimited in Marina del Rey, said demand for larger slips has been a trend at harbors up and down the coast.

“Marinas that are rebuilding their docks don’t have a lot of slips for small boats anymore,” he said.

Weinhart said his club had pushed for a balanced approach.

“The original plan called for even more reductions, but we were able to convince the county not to have as many,” he said. However, “We’re seeing members who want to join our club asking for the larger and wider boat slips.”