Making a case to save Mariners Village and more
Re: “Residents, activists push back against Mariners Village reboot,” news, April 3
I have lived in Los Angeles County for my entire life and I love the weather and the creativity … and so do developers, even those who don’t live here and do not have to deal with the resulting traffic congestion. I grew up in Manhattan Beach, when homes were small and yards were large, but now the opposite is true. I have seen 100-year-old eucalyptus trees cut down to make way for new developments. I have seen acres and acres of open land — where our family dog, Gretchen, would chase jackrabbits — become the Manhattan Beach Mall, Manhattan Village and other shopping areas.
When I was attending college, I would drive through the Ballona Wetlands to the job that I had in Marina del Rey, but now half of the wetlands has become Playa Vista, which is still expanding east as I compose this. Now my wife Elise and I live in Marina del Rey, and developers have proposed to remove all of the foliage, including mature trees, at Mariners Village — literally an urban forest and sanctuary for birds like the Great Blue Heron, which nest at Mariners Village and feed at the wetlands across the channel. They were hunted out of the area 100 years ago, and now they are at risk again of being “developed out” of the area.  Developers want to gut the buildings, and they also want to bulldoze Fisherman’s Village, a place where my brother Joe and I would bicycle to for an Orange Julius and a hotdog.
I am all in favor of renovating and restoring roads and buildings, but some things are worth protecting for their history and design. Why don’t we just paint over the Mona Lisa because she is old and outdated? Many L.A. County residents and I would like to see some of the history of Los Angeles preserved. You can go to Olvera Street to see the oldest part of downtown Los Angeles, but where can you go to see the oldest part of Marina del Rey? You can go to places like Shanghai Red’s (now Whiskey Red’s), Fisherman’s Village, The Warehouse, Mariners Village and a few others to get a sense of the original marina.
We would like to see these last remaining structures and landscapes as part of an historic district, where people can get a glimpse of a previous era when the marina was first conceived while also appreciating the mature trees and vision of people like Peter Kamnitzer, who designed Mariners Village. Sure, you could just bulldoze it and pretend that it was never there, but like the Mona Lisa it offers a history and beauty that is worth protecting, preserving and restoring. Marina del Rey is not just about the weather and water; it has a history too. Let’s protect it.
William R. Hicks
Marina del Rey