The Marina del Rey Design Control Board held a special evening meeting Thursday, September 11th, to hear a proposed Marina del Rey Guidelines project report at the Burton Chace Park Community Building in Marina del Rey.

This meeting was intended to be informational and to gather public comment, said T. Keith Gurnee, principal of the RRM Design Group, the county consultant for the project.

What legal authority the proposed Marina del Rey Design Guidelines would have in relation to Los Angeles County planning requirements was questioned by Simon Pastucha, a planner for the City of Los Angeles and member of the Marina del Rey Design Control Board.

The deadline for public comment is Wednesday, October 22nd, but Gurnee asked that the public try to get comments in by Wednesday, October 15th, to give his group time to incorporate public comments into the document and present the revisions first to county staff and then at the November Design Control Board meeting.

Public comments can be sent by e-mail to and will be forwarded to Design Control Board members and consultants.

The purpose and intent of the Marina del Rey Guidelines is to “aid the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, the Marina del Rey Design Control Board and prospective project applicants in resolving and reviewing the external design of public and private improvements throughout Marina del Rey,” states the documentation from RRM Design Group.

The consultants are working on these guidelines with input from a seven-member task force consisting of community members representing various entities and one appointee of Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, who represents the Fourth District, which includes Marina del Rey.

The Marina del Rey Design Guidelines Task Force began work last fall. The members include Knabe appointee David Baker; Steve Curran, representing yacht/boat sales; Dorothy Franklin, representing local boaters; Beverly Moore of the Marina del Rey Convention and Visitors Bureau; Peter Phinney, an architect and Design Control Board vice chair; Greg Schem, a Marina del Rey lessee; and Patricia Younis, representing the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce.

The “fundamental purpose and intent of the Marina del Rey Design Guidelines is to ensure that all new improvements and developments in Marina del Rey respect its relationship to the water and boating and embrace the right of the public to enjoy this recreational resource, and enhance opportunities for boating,” states the RRM Design Group documentation.

The Marina del Rey Design Guidelines are supplemental to the standards or conditions of development set forth in the Marina del Rey Local Coastal Program (LCP) and complement the Marina del Rey Land Use Plan, RRM Design Group documentation states.

“The design guidelines provide flexibility in developing and improving privately held leaseholds in Marina del Rey, and the provisions that apply to public use areas (parks, the Waterfront Walk, public buildings and parking areas, streets of Marina del Rey) are intended to serve as standards that must be followed in making public realm improvements,” says the documentation.

RRM Design Group staff said the five objectives of the guidelines are to:

— provide feasible and implement alone guidelines;

— clearly distinguish between guidelines and requirements (standards);

— promote sustainability; encourage innovation; and

— provide clarity and ease of use to users of the document.

The six design principals are to:

— celebrate edge where land meets water;

— highlight the variety of parks and recreational opportunities;

— provide distinct and functional streetscapes;

— establish a distinguished identity for each mole road;

— promote sustainable design throughout Marina del Rey; and

— provide leasehold design guidelines for future development.

The various sections include gateways and landmark streetscapes, waterfront walks, site and buildings, parks and piers, and signage. Each section discusses a variety of aspects covered by that section.

Phinney said “waterside improvements are conspicuously absent” in the presentation after a public speaker observed that boats and parking for boat owners was missing from the guidelines.

The need for safe bike paths and pump-out stations on all docks, as well as the fact that Mothers Beach with kayaks, rowing clubs and children present was in conflict with some of the proposed changes, were brought up by another speaker.

The lack of a master plan for development rather than piece-mealing projects, the number of projects to be considered and the large number of meetings make it impossible to keep up with all of the proposed projects, said one speaker.

Younis said there was much discussion on the task force and that this design guideline document “was not a land use plan, but a task of defining if there were changes made design-wise to the Marina, how would you like it to look.”

Pastucha said a checklist of criteria would make the document more valuable and more organized.

He also said that the width of sidewalks, bikeways and street lanes are all required to be designed following certain standards.

One speaker questioned the possibility of adding cafÈs to various sidewalk areas, saying there are enough restaurants and that the sidewalks are narrow enough without adding more obstructions.

Signage was another issue, since one type of signage was mentioned in the guidelines, and design control chair Susan Cloke said this single mention of a particular type of sign might preclude other types of signage if this document is to be used for planning purposes.

“Make this document have the most meaning and value, with clearer, more consistent guidelines, rules and regulations,” Cloke urged.