The four Marina del Rey Design Control Board members voted unanimously to not support a proposed dry-stack storage in the Marina because the building would extend over the water and the pedestrian promenade would not be at the water’s edge, at a special public night meeting of the Design Control Board Thursday, May 31st, at Burton Chace Park.
The proposed project is the Boat Central project — the applicant is MdR Boat Central, LP — for a dry-stack storage facility on Fiji Way in Marina del Rey.
The Design Control Board has not previously recommended such a project and did not intend to do so in the future, said Design Control Board chair Susan Cloke.
The meeting provided the applicant with an opportunity to return with changes suggested by the design board at an April meeting — where the applicant had requested a conceptual approval recommendation — as well as to give the public an opportunity to give input on the proposed project.
“What we have is the county proposing to take a project forward, which is not allowed, and if the county had a compelling argument to have part of the building over the water, it should have gone through the process of changing the rules,” Cloke said.
Cloke said the county should apply the same rules to itself as it does to lessees, and that she had “never seen anything so egregiously demonstrated as now,” and that she doesn’t “hold the applicant responsible.”
There is only one marina like this in the county, and it is being viewed to maximize its dollar potential and not capitalize on its best assets, such as the large potential to attract international visitors to regattas and other activities for the boating community, Cloke said.
Design Control Board member Tony Wong questioned whether the project could be legally moved forward to the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning and ultimately to the Board of Supervisors without an approval from the Design Control Board.
Stan Wisniewski, director of Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, told Wong that the proposed project — which would require an amendment to the Marina del Rey Local Coastal Pro- gram (LCP) — could move forward for review to the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning and ultimately to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, without the Design Control Board’s approval recommendation.
These other agencies would look back at the Design Control Board recommendation to deny approval of the project, but it would not stop the project, although the project could be delayed during this process if it were determined that a problem existed, said Wisniewski.
Some audience members reacted to Wisniewski’s statement by asking, “Then what are we doing here?”
Design Control Board member and architect Peter Phinney and Cloke told the applicant that they were disappointed that some of the alternate design changes the control board had recommended at the previous meeting had not been addressed.
Phinney also said that the massing of the building is just too large, and that when he looked from Burton Chace Park at West Marine — which is on Fiji Way near where the Boat Central development would be built — even West Marine looked large, and this new property would be much larger.
Wisniewski noted that the project as proposed provides greater view corridors and is consistent with specifications, and that the dry-stack storage facility doesn’t replace wet slips, but offers alternatives, as Dock 77 has dry storage which will be absorbed.
During public comment, speakers expressed frustration that this meeting about the Boat Central project had not been widely publicized for a longer period by the county, and that many people weren’t aware that the meeting was being held, which denied them public input.
Another speaker said that proposing a project that extends over the water is a blatant violation of guidelines and standards set by county code and federal law, and that the RFPs (requests for proposal) are a problem, being unilaterally decided, seemingly in defiance by county officials.
Another speaker said he wanted a master plan of the Marina that was to scale for a visual reference to show the true impact of cumulative projects.
The speaker said that traffic abatement should be at the forefront of everything else, and the speaker asked if the county would allow these new developments and docks to deteriorate to the level that the old, existing projects have deteriorated.
An environmental advocate said that the project might be appropriate but that it is planned for a totally inappropriate location, taking away the only free parking for the biological preserve across the way on Fiji Way.
This speaker said that the parking lot should be an entryway to the preserve, and that the county should work to enhance and embrace it as a nature destination.
She also noted that two-thirds of the wetland was destroyed when the Marina was built, and that the only full tidal channel is underneath this property. She questioned what would happen to the channel now and asked county officials to look at the cumulative impact of this project.
The U.S. Department of Fish and Game is expected to work with the applicant regarding the tidal channel, according to county officials.
The question of shade and shadow that the development would cause on early-morning boaters and kayakers was raised, with several audience members and Cloke saying that they go out on the water early in the morning and don’t want to wait until almost 9 a.m. to experience the sunshine.
Design Control Board member David Abelar said that he sails, and that his concern is about the proposed water overhang of the structure, with amateur sailors taking up a lot of space and encountering problems.
The idea of a master plan for development in the Marina was mentioned, as it has been at each meeting, as opponents to development say that a cohesive master plan for the entire Marina needs to be fashioned to correctly plan future developments and their full impact rather than developing in a piecemeal fashion.
Design Control Board member Tony Wong asked county officials if there is a master plan on file, and requested that the issue be placed on the agenda for the next meeting.
Wisniewski said that an outline and time frame for future plans would be presented at the next meeting.
One audience member said his boat slip fee was increased considerably, and that regular boaters are being forced out of the Marina by this fee increase.
Wisniewski said that the county has a policy for price control complaints for boat slip fees, and that the rates are considered reasonable in an analysis of other slip fees within the range of 60 miles.
The following specifications regarding the Boat Central proposed project are from county documentation unless otherwise specified.
The Boat Central proposed project is for a dry-stack boat storage facility of approximately 47,084 square feet — 35,466 square feet of which would be over land and 11,618 square feet over water — and a separate 5,300-square-foot visitor reception building that would house an office, Marina sheriff’s boatwright shop and boater amenities.
The project would provide storage for up to 367 small boats and 28 boat trailers within the dry-stack building, and 30 mast-up storage spaces in a separate outside lot, along with a public waterside hoist and wash-down area.
Parking for the project would provide 135 full-size spaces.