Says slip rate increases not justified; calls for audit, Senate investigation

To the Editor:

The Local Coastal Program (LCP) states that the primary purposes of Marina del Rey are to provide recreational boating opportunities for citizens of Los Angeles County and to protect and increase recreational boating in Marina del Rey.

More recently, the California Coastal Commission staff recommends lower-cost boating facilities.

However, boat slip rents have dramatically increased, in some cases more than 55 percent.

On April 10th, I requested a copy of the Williams-Kuebelbeck study of Marina del Rey boat slip sizing and pricing. I received a letter from County Counsel stating that they would not provide this document. Without public scrutiny of this study, I respectfully submit that any data derived from this source be deemed null and void, including the Williams-Kuebelbeck study dated April 20th, 2001, because it is over five years old.

Major Revised Coastal Commission Staff Recommendations state that in order to adequately assess boater impacts, boating data should be no more than five years old.

It appears that the county’s position supporting the lessees’ boat slip price increases are based on comparable slip rates at other recreational boat harbors (while those studies and data have never been verified) and the inflated costs of maintenance by the lessees.

These unprecedented slip price increases are neither warranted nor justified. The lessees are passing on their costs of deferred maintenance from past years, which had not been performed, on to the boaters.

Many of these anchorages have made little or no effort in the past to bring their leaseholds up to Marina standards but have nonetheless demanded two or three rent increases within the last year. These increases have been approved by the Marina director under protest from individuals, the Coalition to Save the Marina and other organizations.

We are also deeply concerned with the continuous and ongoing lack of cooperation exhibited by Los Angeles County in its participation with the public and the Marina del Rey Local Coastal Program.

This arrogant and callous disregard for the public good is unacceptable. The stewardship of Marina del Rey by county government is dismal at best and, for the lack of a better description, engages in “imperial adventurism” at the cost of the public trust.

I submit that a State Senate investigation is warranted at this time, along with the financial audit of the county’s association with special interest groups, lessees and lobbyists.

Accountability and transparency are paramount in our society and we petition the guidance and expertise of state and federal agencies in this review process which is critical to the survival of our boating community.

Donald Klein, president

Coalition to Save the Marina

Marina del Rey

Coastal Commission should stop ‘handover’ of public lands turning Mothers Beach promenade into a ‘hotel alley’

To the Editor:

Los Angeles County’s new ideas about developing Marina Beach (commonly known as Mothers Beach) in Marina del Rey, revealed at a recent meeting of the Design Control Board, serve only to underscore the nightmare vision the county has for that popular recreational area.

The county plans to turn the promenade along the edge of the beach into a “hotel alley.” And not just for two- or three-story motel-style hotels, but for five-story high-rises which will block out afternoon sunlight on the beach.

The present picnic tables and adjacent parking at the center of the beach are to be closed down and moved over to the side of the beach where there is less sand area, particularly at high tide, and where picnickers’ children might stray out onto busy roads.

Putting picnic tables and a proposed plunge pool (whatever that is) on the beach itself means a lot of the precious fund of dry sand area will be cemented over.

And as the county has abandoned its plan for layered parking on the south side of the beach, inevitably the hotel users will grab the limited parking that remains and there will be no parking available for picnickers and other beach users.

It is doubtful whether such a monstrous collection of high-rises right on the sand, blotting out the sunlight, exists anywhere else along the entire L. A. County coastline. Beach resort towns along the Costa Brava in Spain permitted this sort of building with disastrous results. The German tourists who once flocked to Costa Brava now prefer the beaches of Croatia or Romania.

The county describes the building of the hotels as a “done deal” but it is not “done” until the county can get the approval of the California Coastal Commission to use the Mothers Beach parking and other parking lots for anything except parking or parks.

It is to be fervently hoped that the California Coastal Commission will fulfill its public duty and forbid the handover of these public lands for private developments such as extended-stay hotels.

Public land is for public use.

Carla Andrus

Marina del Rey