The County Public Works Department has been asked to study the issue of asbestos at Kings-wood Village apartments.

A claim of the presence of asbestos by a Kingswood Village tenant prompted Small Craft Harbor Commission vice chair Carole Stevens to direct the county staff to ask the County Department of Public Works to specifically inspect Kingswood apartment 806 and randomly inspect other apartments for asbestos.

At the Small Craft Harbor Commission meeting Wednesday, August 11th, the Kingswood Village tenant told the commission that asbestos had been removed from Apartment 806, wrapped in plastic and stored in an open container on the premises for between one and two weeks.

The tenant also questioned whether the asbestos had been properly removed by licensed personnel and whether the asbestos had been disposed of at a regular landfill with other trash.

Stevens was chairing the meeting for commission chairman Harley Searcy, who was absent.

Stevens said the asbestos problem is a serious public health issue and takes priority, especially if the asbestos has been left on the property or taken to a regular landfill rather than being properly disposed of by licensed personnel at a HAZMAT (hazardous materials) location.

Stevens asked county staff if the claim about asbestos being present at Kingswood Village Apartments was true.

“Sure there’s asbestos there, just like all of the apartments built in the Marina during that period, with the ‘popcorn ceilings’,” replied Roger Moliere, deputy director of the Beaches and Harbors Asset Management and Planning Bureau.

“We all take this very seriously, but I’d like to see the information first,” Moliere said.

The tenant read from a letter at the meeting that she had written to Los Angeles County of Department of Beaches and Harbors director Stan Wisniewski, who was also absent from the meeting.

The tenant told the commissioners present that she called Wisniewski Wednesday, July 21st, to complain about the asbestos, alleging that she was afraid to contact the Kingswood lessee — Archstone-Smith Operating Trust — for fear of retribution, and that she didn’t want her name divulged to Archstone.

She said she was very angry because someone in the county office contacted Archstone, and an Archstone representative called her back, telling her not to call the county, that Archstone was “there to help.”

County Department of Beaches and Harbors chief deputy Kerry Silverstrom told the tenant that she should have reported the problem to Archstone.

Silverstrom told the tenant that Archstone is the landlord and the county is the land owner, and that her contact should be with Archstone.

Silverstrom told the tenant that because the tenant was the one with the information, she should have called Archstone.

“We’re concerned about health issues, but your relationship is with your landlord, and we won’t facilitate the use of the county,” said Silverstrom.

AQMD RESPONSE — When the issue of asbestos was reported to The Argonaut last month, the Marina director replied to the newspaper that Archstone officials had called the Air Quality Management District after the asbestos was discovered.

OTHER RESPONSES — In other issues regarding Archstone and Kingswood Village, Wisniewski submitted a memo to the commission regarding issues that had been raised by Kings-wood tenants during the July commission.

In his memo, the Marina director said that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, Building and Safety Division is aware of all work being done at Kingswood Village Apartments by the lessee, Archstone.

Archstone has all the appropriate permits for exterior work, Wisniewski wrote the commission, adding that interior renovations currently undertaken by Archstone don’t require permits.

Wisniewski said that Archstone management had told the county that no current tenants are being required to pay for the costs of water, sewer or trash, nor will existing tenants who sign a new lease be subject to such charges during the term of their lease.

New tenants who move into a renovated unit under a new lease will be billed for water, sewer and trash on a pro-rata basis by a third-party company, American Utility Management, Inc. (AUM), and tenants will be billed directly by AUM, Archstone told Marina officials.

Tenants are not responsible for utilities for common areas.

Wisniewski told the commission in his memo that the current trend in management of multi-family residential properties is to charge tenants for water, trash and sewer on a pro-rata basis, separate from the rent, and the practice has helped promote resources conservation.

Wisniewski said his department considers all such charges for water, sewer and trash as part of its rent analysis studies.

Last month, the commission was asked by Kingswood tenants how the county can be assured that the lessee will, in fact, spend the minimum of $24 million to renovate the property that the amended and restated lease requires.

The county will require Archstone to spend not less than $24.6 million for the cost of the redevelopment work, Wisniewski wrote the commission in his memo.

The Marina director said the county has mechanisms in place to verify the lessee’s actual expenditures, including the requirement that the lessee supply the county with all construction contracts.

The county also holds the right to enter the property to inspect accounting records and construction work.

All plans and specifications of the redevelopment work are subject to the county’s review and reasonable approval, Wisniewski added.

Because the commission lacked a quorum, action could not be taken on agenda items, including:

n supporting a request for proposals for development of fuel dock facilities at the Marina main channel end of Bora Bora Way; and

n authorizing the chief administrative officer and director of the Department of Beaches and Harbors to enter into exclusive negotiations for a long-term ground lease and development of a small county-held parcel at Fiji Way and Admiralty Way adjacent to the Marina Waterside Center.

MARINA CRIME — A monthly crime report by the Marina del Rey Sheriff’s Station noted a spike in “crimes of opportunity” at hotels and restaurants.

Hotel guests, restaurant patrons and guests of events such as weddings have had their cameras stolen. The sheriff’s department wants hotels and restaurants and their patrons to be more aware, and not leave their expensive cameras at tables as they socialize.

The sheriff’s department also reported that a motorcycle theft ring arrest has been made.

Harley-Davidson, Indian and other high-end motorcycles have been stolen in the Marina.

A sheriff’s deputy stopped a van with three people acting suspiciously. Two of the individuals escaped, but the third was arrested. A sheriff’s deputy alleged that the van had been altered with the installation of a hydraulic ramp, enabling individuals to cut locks on motorcycles and wheel the motorcycles up the ramp and into the van.

A search is going on for other suspects.

PUBLIC COMMENT — During the commission meeting, Coalition to Save the Marina president Don Klein asked what the Marina criteria is for 30-day eviction notices for liveaboards and asked if 60 days isn’t a more correct time period.

Klein told the commissioners that liveaboards have money invested in their boats and have no other place to go. Evictions result in a loss of investment in their homes.

Stevens asked Marina staff to investigate what the requirements are for liveaboard evictions and report back to the commission.

Klein also alleged that liveaboards were being evicted at the whim of dockmasters, with no rules or regulations cited.

Moliere asked Klein to give him specific examples in writing of people being evicted without cause.