A Marina del Rey slip sizing study by Noble Consultants, Inc., has been commissioned by the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors to evaluate slip distribution criteria for marinas to be reconfigured and to accommodate current and future demand for the next 40 years.

A preliminary presentation of the Noble Consultants, Inc. draft study by Ron Noble was presented at a special meeting of the county Small Craft Harbor Commission Wednesday, March 11th.

A separate slip pricing and vacancy study by Allan D. Kotin was also presented at the request of the county to examine market data to determine whether or not there is a trend toward average slip-size increases ó fewer small slips and more large slips ó and a given fixed water area yielding a smaller number of slips reflects changes in the actual market as shown by a differential in price level and price change and a vacancy differential.

Kotinís firm, Allan D. Kotin & Associates, has been the countyís primary economic and financial consultant in several key areas, which include port and marina leaseholds, according to his Web site, adkotin.com/ports.asp/.

The full draft report will be available on the Beaches and Harbors Web site within two weeks and the study will again be presented to the Small Craft Harbor Commission at its April meeting, said Beaches and Harbors Director Santos Kreimann.

Kreimann said that one of the reasons the study was requested was because of the many challenges by small boater owners who are concerned that small boat slips are being removed as lessees remodel, and they accommodate owners of larger boats with larger slips.

Ron Noble said that the slip sizing study included 21 marinas within Marina del Rey that were originally constructed between 1964 and 1972, with some having been replaced or reconfigured, while others are proposed for reconfiguration.

Comparisons were made with 23 other marinas in California. Consideration was given to changes in slip distribution in Marina del Rey; reconfigured and proposed reconfigured Marina del Rey marinas; boat berth slip demand; Department of Boating and Waterways (DBAW) marina design guidelines; boat industry vessel length vs. beam; and recommendations for Marina del Rey (MDR).

(See topics of study in sidebar.)

The Noble study findings showed that most of the original 21 marinas did not meet DBAW slip clear-width criteria; power and sailboat beams have increased since the 1960s; MDRís highest slip vacancy is for slips of 35 feet or less; more boats in the 30-foot and less categories move to dry storage; existing MDR slip distribution is less than the majority of other marinas; upgrading existing slips will result in some reduction of total slips; and total wet slips and dry storage when managed should be sufficient.

Recommendations include: slip distribution for all of Marina del Rey and for ìmaximum caseî reconfigured marinas; average slip length less than 40 feet for all of Marina del Rey; average slip length of less than 44 feet for maximum individual reconfigured marina; minimum slip length 30 feet; utilize available waters and land area for additional wet and dry storage; reconfigured marinas meet DBAW/county berth criteria; base slip clear widths on 50/50 power/sail; use only single boat berths; meet the criteria of ADA/DBAW/county; and maximize dry boat storage in Marina del Rey.

Kotinís presentation included a summary of key observations, pricing trends in Marina del Rey, pricing trends in other Southern California marinas, Marina del Rey slip rates compared to other Southern California marinas, and vacancy trends in Marina del Rey.

Three key observations included: in all the marinas surveyed, price per lineal foot and the rate of price increase is much greater in slips over 35 feet and particularly over 50 feet; Marina del Rey prices themselves are in fact largely at the midpoint level of the competitive set of marinas surveyed; and some premium attaches to newly constructed marinas, but this premium is less than the premium associated with increasing size.

Kotin said that the Esprit I (E&S Ring Management), a development located at 13900 Marquesas Way, was left out of the analysis because of the ìferociously high rates.î

Public speakers claimed there are several issues relating to the study, including:

Esprit Iís higher rates actually skew the results of the study; Los Angeles is a more diverse boating community needing smaller boat slips that are affordable and that approximately 1,500 slips will be lost under this study; older, heavier small boats that weigh 10,000 pounds canít be placed in dry storage; over two million boats are under 26 feet and only a few thousand are in the large boat category;

Too many small boats are just taking up space and are not used regularly, while larger boats canít find room; boats 35 feet and up canít use trailers; channels and fairways are too small for larger boats; the current economy makes the slip pricing questionable; and Marina del Rey was built as a small boat recreational harbor.

Some speakers questioned the fact that the study was performed by Noble Consultants, Inc., a longtime consultant to the county, and they questioned the objectivity of the study.

Beaches and Harbors director Kreimann said the county provided the raw data to the consultants and did not discuss how the study should be done.

ìJust because the consultant has worked with the county before doesnít mean the study wasnít independent,î said Kreimann.

ìIt is disheartening to hear talk of conspiracies.î

The Noble and Kotin studies can be viewed online at http://beaches.co.la.ca.us/.

Topics of the study include:

ó Marina del Rey waterfront slip count;

ó Average slip length summary for MDR marinas;

ó MDR slip length distributions and wet/dry boat storage;

ó Slip length in feet distribution summary for MDR marinas;

ó average slip length summary for MDR marinas;

ó comparison of average slip length for MDR and other marinas;

ó MDR slips vs. 23 other marina slips;

ó berth length distributions for MDR and other marinas;

ó berth length distributions for reconfigured and proposed reconfigured MDR marinas;

ó MDR slip vacancy rates;

ó Boat registration number change by size categories (1996-2007);

ó DBAW slip clear width guidelines based on single berths (powerboats and sailboats);

ó DBAW guidelines for dock fingerfloat widths and fairway widths;

ó slip widths for MDR parcels similar to DBAW powerboat criteria;

ó slip widths for MDR parcels narrower than DBAW powerboat criteria;

ó boat berths per acre vs. slip length;

ó boat beam vs. boat length variation for power boats (1960-2008);

ó boat beam vs. boat length variation for sailboats (1960-2008);

ó recommended MDR boat size distributions;

ó distribution of powerboats vs. sailboats for MDR marinas:

ó and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) boat slips.