County parking rates would go up as much as 20%; cost of using some facilities could double

By Gary Walker

Fees for parking and using recreational facilities in Marina del Rey may be going up just in time for the busy summer season.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to raise parking fees at several county-run parking lots by as much as 20%, while also hiking charges for boat docking and storage as well as increasing rental costs for Burton Chace Park and the Dockweiler Youth Center.

If approved, the new rates could go into effect as early as May 24, according to county documents.

The proposed fee increases would generate up to $1.2 million in additional annual revenue as of the next fiscal year after a bump of $126,000 through June 30.

Supervisor Don Knabe, who represents Marina del Rey, postponed an earlier vote over concerns about impacts to children’s programming.

“He particularly wanted to be sure [the fees] remain affordable for children from all parts of Los Angeles County,” said Cheryl Burnett, a spokeswoman for Knabe.

In addition to raising enrollment costs for marina-based county summer camp programs that were suspended in 2011 due to budget constraints, daily rental charges for the county-run Dockweiler Youth Center, located just south of the marina in Playa del Rey, would double from the current $500 fee to $1,000.

Likewise, couples wishing to use the community room at Burton Chase Park for wedding receptions would pay $750, an increase from $500.

Boat owners would also pay more.

Dry stack storage prices for motorized boats up to 21 feet, currently $110 per month, would go up to $150. For larger boats, fees may climb to between $250 and $500.

Docking rates for Basin H at Burton Chace Park would go up to $6 per foot for yachts over 100 feet long.

Dry storage fees for paddleboards, sculls and kayaks would not increase, however.

Automobile parking rates would increase for some county lots but not others.

The daily rate for parking in the public boat launch-adjacent Lot No. 2 at Pacific Avenue and Via Marina would go up from $10 to $15.

Daily rates for Lot No. 10, adjacent to Mother’s Beach at 4101 Admiralty Way, and Lot No. 13, near Mariners Village Apartments, would go up from $8 to $10 on weekdays and from $10 to $15 on weekends. Similar increases would also apply to Lot No. 7 at 4350 Admiralty Way and Lots No. 9 and 11 on Panay Way near the Chart House Restaurant.

Visitor parking for Fisherman’s Village, currently $1 for each 20 minutes for those who exceed the two hours of free parking through restaurant parking validations, would double to $2 per 20 minutes.

Dept. of Beaches and Harbors spokeswoman Carol Baker said parking costs in Marina del Rey have been static for five years and the proposed fee increases are based on rates at county-run lots in other areas.

“Our parking rates have not increased since 2009. We are actually required to evaluate them every year,” Baker said.

Proposed parking rate increases only target lots that see high demand from summer visitors, Baker said.

The proposal does not include increased parking rates for several other county lots, including Nos. 4, 5 8 and 12.

Marina del Rey Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Janet Zaldua doesn’t think the proposed fees will adversely affect summer tourism.

“I think visitors and tourists expect to pay for parking no matter where they go in Southern California, especially when it’s at one of our beaches,” Zaldua said.

Baker said the county’s Beach Commission had approved the recommended fee increases and the Small Craft Harbor Commission did not take a position on them.

South Coast Corinthians Yacht Club Commodore Nick Sampson said the club was unaware of the potential boat storage rate hikes.

“Our members are very interested in marina issues, like having to remove copper from the hulls of their boats, but this is the first time that we’ve heard of any [potential] fee increases,” Sampson said.

Neighborhood activist Nancy Marino, whose We Are Marina del Rey community group has opposed most development proposals in and around the harbor, said officials shouldn’t raise user fees at the harbor because they’re already increasing county revenue by intensifying land use.

“To [raise fees] at the beginning of the summer is discouraging to people,” Marino said. “The county is making money, and they should be spending it on recreational activities.”

Proposed tuition increases for Dept. of Beaches and Harbors youth outreach camps would help cover operating expenses as well as equipment maintenance, Baker said.

The currently inactive Water Awareness, Training, Education and Recreation (WATER) Program included four themed youth camps, each costing participants $165.

If county leaders approve fee increases, the cost of attending ocean sports camp and a water recreation safety program would go up to $200. Surfing camp would cost $200, and sailing camp $375.

“We discontinued the [outreach programs] in 2011 because of the economic downturn, but we hope to offer them again this winter,” Baker said. “Sailing camps cost more because our lifeguards conduct the camps and there is a higher level of instruction involved” as well as boat maintenance costs.

According to county documents, increasing youth program fees would also underwrite financial aid for low-income participants.