Upgrades to Wayfarer anchorages create uncertainty for less affluent boaters

By Gary Walker

More than 300 boaters will be temporarily displaced from their slips at Wayfarer Apartments + Marina to accommodate renovations, but not all will be able to return

As part of a long-range plan to modernize and improve boating amenities in Marina del Rey, county officials have been replacing dilapidated docks that are not in compliance with federal and state laws, work that often requires boat owners to find another anchorage or temporarily store their vessels on land.

But not all boat owners are able to find or afford storage. Anxious of being displaced due to dock renovations, a group of boaters who dock at Wayfarer Apartments + Marina are taking their plight public after receiving what they describe as eviction notices on April 19.

When the Los Angeles County Small Craft Harbor Commission meets Wednesday in Marin del Rey, the boaters plan to ask commissioners to help them obtain an extension beyond the July 17 move-out date cited in the notices. But the situation may be more fluid than the boaters believe.

Wayfarer, which is owned by real estate development firm Legacy Partners, sent what they describe as courtesy letters to over 300 boaters with slips at their anchorage to apprise slip tenants of the impending dock renovations, which are slated to begin September.

“The courtesy letter was very clear, but we’ve sent out a clarification letter that states no formal notice has been issued,” said Legacy Partners Senior Managing Director Tim O’Brien. “We wanted to give boaters as much time as possible to make alternative plans. And we’ve agreed not to send any formal notices until we reach an agreement with Beaches and Harbors regarding the renovation of the docks.”

Formerly Mariners Bay, Wayfarer currently has 388 boating slips, but that number will shrink to 311 after the renovations. After most dock improvements, anchorages usually lose slips because the trend is to accommodate wider boats.

Fewer slips is a concern for Guadalupe Merritt, a Wayfarer tenant. Because the slips will also be more expensive after the enhancements, she and others fear less affluent boat owners at Wayfarer might not be able to return.

“Wayfarer said that after the renovations were completed, they would welcome back boaters who satisfied certain requirements, but at a higher slip rate. With the number of boats that have to be relocated, it’s very scary. We’re very nervous about not knowing where to go,” Merritt said.

O’Brien acknowledged that slip rates will increase from an average of $15 per foot to $22 per foot.

“But we’ve owned the property since 2015, and we haven’t [previously] increased the rates on our boaters,” he added.

Boat storage facilities in Marina del Rey say they can accommodate a good number of temporarily displaced vessels.

“We’ve had lots of calls from people who need to store their boats because of dock renovations,” said Emma Mather, the dock manager at The BoatYard on Fiji Way. “We have slips for 21-, 26-, 30- and 35-foot boats, and a 34-foot end tie for a catamaran.”

Merritt says Wayfarer has told boat owners that they will have specific requirements regarding the condition of their boats for all who return, and she feels that could exclude those who might not be able to afford upgrades or repairs.

“We understand that there has to be renovations, but there’s no guarantee that everyone will fulfill the requirements. There’s no guarantee that you will have a place to fix up your boat,” she said.

O’Brien said the requirements will mirror the same as other anchorages in the marina and the renovations will be welcomed.

“In the long run, this will make for a longer-lasting, better and safer boating community,” he said.

The Small Craft Harbor Commission meets at 10 a.m. Wednesday (May 9) in the Burton Chace Park Community Room, 13650 Mindanao Way, Marina del Rey. Call (424) 526-7777 or visit beaches.lacounty.gov/small-craft-harbor-commission for more information.