Supervisor Don Knabe makes a point during Monday’s speech

Supervisor Don Knabe makes a point during Monday’s speech

County supervisor also talks traffic and shares boaters’ concerns about costly new regulations during ‘State of the Marina’ address

By Gary Walker

Strengthening Marina del Rey’s position in the housing, tourism and commercial marketplaces will be a top priority of Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe’s remaining time in office, Knabe told constituents last Friday during a “State of the Marina” address hosted by the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce.

During his 30-minute speech at Tony P’s Dockside Grill, Knabe also touched on dissatisfaction with the pace of recent street repairs and signaled resistance to a state environmental cleanup initiative largely opposed by recreational boaters.

But in terms of shaping Marina del Rey’s future, change — particularly as it concerns a controversial county visioning process that would rearrange the harbor’s landscape — appeared to be the underlying theme.

“Many of you have been reading about the new Silicon Beach [technology entrepreneurship sector] that we have around here, and we need to be competitors for that marketplace and have the kinds of amenities and living experiences and businesses that will attract people to come here,” Knabe said. “I think with the visioning, we’re at the point where we have one last good shot, and we’ve got to do it right. As far as I’m concerned, everything is on the table.”

The county’s visioning initiative seeks to guide development in Marina del Rey for the next 30 years to accommodate up to 200,000 square feet of new retail development and as many as 940 new hotel rooms. The plan, likely facing a vote by the Board of Supervisors later this year, would create recreational, boating and residential sectors of the harbor with changes that include the demolition of Fisherman’s Village and clustering boater amenities at the southwest end of the harbor.

“I’m really working hard to finish out a lot of things in my last two and a half years in office, and really feel that under the leadership of [newly named Dept. of Beaches and Harbors Director] Gary Jones we’ve got some momentum out here,” Knabe said.

The visioning effort, however, does have its critics.

Environmentalist Douglas Fay, who is running in June for the seat that County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky must vacate due to term limits, said the county report does not reflect the will of harbor residents.

“The visioning process that the county is conducting is absurd,” said Fay, a Santa Monica resident who is also suing the county over its Oxford Lagoon restoration project. “It has not been inclusive, and I am opposing the visioning process.”

During his address, Knabe took issue with a recent mandate by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board that would force boaters to strip and re-paint vessel hulls coated with copper-based paints, likely at considerable expense.

“We thought that was pretty extreme and outrageous, and we were treated very rudely at the hearing and we made a very scientific presentation,” Knabe said.

Knabe threatened to “go nuclear” if the water board does not revise its mandate — a remark he later clarified as bringing legal action against the state-run board.

Addressing concerns about homeless encampments in the Ballona Wetlands, Knabe said the Marina del Rey Sheriff’s Station has made strides to collaborate with other agencies and added an additional patrol deputy.

“We’re seeing some improvements, but we need more help from the state,” Knabe said.

Reacting to complaints about delays in work during recently completed upgrades to Admiralty Way, Knabe said he is seeking to improve county oversight of contractor work schedules.

“While the business community was requesting that the project be completed as soon as possible, the residential community was asking for peace and quiet, with no work late at night or on weekends. So it is always difficult striking an even balance between the two, but from that experience, we’re going to make some changes going forward,” he said.