Parking, boat storage and youth program prices are still going up in June, however

By Gary Walker

Parking rates will be increasing at several county-run lots in Marina del Rey in June, but not as much as officials had initially planned.

Citing a need to adjust prices stuck at 2009 levels, the Los Angeles County Dept. of Beaches and Harbors had proposed daily parking rate hikes of between $2 and $5 at several high-demand lots. Mother’s Beach adjacent Lot No. 10, for example, would have gone up from $8 to $10 on weekdays and from $10 to $15 on weekends, and other lots on Admiralty Way and Panay Way would have been similarly impacted.

But thanks to the intervention of Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, those fee increases were sliced roughly in half.

At the urging of Knabe, the board voted unanimously on May 13 to cap this season’s parking fee increases for the marina at $2.50.

“While I appreciate the need for additional revenue for department operations, many of the proposed fees are big one-time jumps. … I understand that some surrounding communities charge as much or more as the proposed fees, but they didn’t get to those levels all at once,” Knabe told his colleagues on the board.

“We need to remember it is our residents and visitors who pay the price when we increase our fees to keep up with the Joneses, and for many of these residents and visitors the Great Recession is still a factor in their bottom line,” he continued.

The Knabe compromise also beat back fee hikes planned for youth recreational programs in the marina, but did not trim rate increases for boat docking and storage.

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

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

Proposed fees for the Dept. of Beaches and Harbors’ Water Awareness, Training, Education and Recreation youth outreach camps — being revived after they were discontinued in 2011 due to budget constraints — will see a flat increase of $35.

That increase matches what was proposed for some camp programs, all of which previously cost $165, but spared the popular sailing camp from going up to $375.

Knabe said the proposed hikes were “upwards of 127%, despite the fact that these programs specifically target the disadvantaged and inner-city youth who may not otherwise experience these ocean-related safety activities.”

Beaches and Harbors had proposed the increases as a way to help cover losses on equipment maintenance and labor costs as well as fund discounts for lower-income families, according to documents.

In total, proposed fee hikes would have raised an estimated $1.2 million per year for county coffers. The impact of Knabe’s revisions on the bottom line was not immediately clear.

“I don’t want to do anything to put a dent in tourism right when we are trying to improve the visitor experience,” Knabe said during his May 9 “State of the Marina” address at Tony P’s Dockside Grill. “It’s always a balance between covering our costs and my general dislike of fee increases because of the impact on businesses and visitors.”

David Levine, president of the association that represents those who hold county leases to maintain housing or do business within the county-run harbor, praised Knabe for softening what could have been a bigger blow to customers’ pocketbooks.

“There were lessees who were very concerned about the [proposed] significant proportional increase in parking and other fees. We were concerned that it could hurt many businesses in the marina,” Levine said. “Any reduction is likely to help maintain access to Marina del Rey, which is a good thing.”