By Helga Gendell
Part XV of the Marina del Rey history series addresses an attempt at cityhood for Marina del Rey by local residents and boaters concerned about lessees’ increasing rental costs for apartments and boat slips at the time.
Part XIV covered tenants’ past complaints about apartment and boat slip rentals.
In a September 6, 1984 article titled “Marina Cityhood Effort Surfaces,” Los Angeles Times reporter Mark Gladstone reported, “The state legislature has shunned a move by the conservative majority on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to stop Marina del Rey from becoming an independent city.
“As lawmakers rushed to finish their legislative session, county officials lobbied for a measure that, in effect, would have blocked cityhood advocates from taking any more steps toward incorporating county-owned Marina del Rey.
“But the county’s efforts collapsed after lawmakers, who had agreed to carry the bill in the Assembly, withdrew their support.”
The Times article continues, “The cityhood drive was sparked by fears that rents will skyrocket after county rent controls are phased out, starting next year. Supporters met with county Local Agency Formation Commission officials who confirmed that they will study the feasibility of turning Marina del Rey into a municipality.
“The majority of the supervisors, however, are opposed to Marina del Rey incorporation because the area does not have a large enough tax base to sustain municipal services,” stated the Times article.
“‘Incorporations with large amounts of government-owned property do not make sense,’ said three supervisors in a letter to lawmakers last week. Supervisors Deane Dana, Peter Schabarum and Michael Antonovich signed the letter.
“Some county and state officials view Marina del Rey’s cityhood as a potential threat to the massive Playa Vista development proposed by the late Howard Hughes Summa Corp. south of the marina.
“The Marina del Rey incorporation would be the second major incorporation drive within a year in West Los Angeles. Voters in West Hollywood will decide on cityhood there in November.”
Gladstone’s Times article continues, “Marina del Rey renters have become increasingly vocal and active in local affairs in recent years.
“‘We’re sick and tired of the landlordsÖgouging the people rentwise,’ said Harold (Hy) Tucker, chairman of the Committee to Incorporate Marina del Rey.
“The committee wants to turn Marina del Rey’s 800-plus acres of land and water into a separate city that would be wedged between Venice to the north and Playa del Rey to the south.”
“Although the Marina is regarded as the largest small craft harbor in the world, it is dotted with offices and an estimated 14,000 rental units,” stated the Times article.
“Begun in 1958, the county-owned complex was worth an estimated $1 billion by 1981. In exchange for 60-year leases with private firms, the county receives more than $10 million a year in revenues from the marinas.
“Ruth Bennell, the commission’s executive officer, said she told the group that rent control disputes were probably not adequate justification to start a city. Still, Bennell said that she is beginning the three-month feasibility study.
“Upon completion of the study, cityhood backers may file a formal petition, including detailed maps and signatures of 25 percent of the marina’s registered voters.”
The Times article continues, “If the papers are filed, the commission will have to decide whether to place the issue on the ballot.
“That threat led supervisors to take swift action last week. County lobbyists took a bill that had been on the Legislature’s inactive file for months and had amendments prepared to stop the cityhood drive before it got off the ground.
“Under the measure, no preliminary steps toward incorporation could be taken in areas, such as county-owned Marina del Rey, where less than 60 percent of the land is privately owned.
“One legislative staffer familiar with the failed effort called it ‘an attempt at a preemptive strike’ against the embryonic incorporation effort,’” stated the Times article.
“Despite the county’s influence on the Capitol, the 11th-hour lobbying effort fell apart when lawmakers learned that legislative committees had not conducted routine hearings on the issue.
“‘When we realized the county was trying an end run, we said no way,’ said Assemblyman Richard Katz, who initially agreed to co-author the bill along with Assemblyman Frank Hill.”
Gladstone’s Times article reported, “Katz asked county officials to reintroduce the measure next year when it could get a full airing.
“County lobbyist Clancy Leland said he was not sure what the county would do now. But he defended the county’s effort, saying, ‘we have a substantial investment in the marinaÖ.and it’s something we’re interested in protecting.’
“Dana, chairman of the Board of Supervisors and whose district encompasses the marina, organized the abortive effort in Sacramento partly because he feared losing money,” stated the Times article.
“‘If the county were to lose the $10 million to $12 million in revenues currently generated from the marina and soon to be as much as $20 million, we have to protect the county’s interest and the public’s as a whole,’” he insisted in a statement released by his office.
“Cityhood sponsor Tucker disagreed: ‘The county would own all the land. They wouldn’t lose out on any lease,’” he said.
“Had the supervisors succeeded last week, efforts by Tucker and his allies would have been short-circuited.
“With the Legislature hours from ending its two-year session last Friday, Dana, Antonovich and Schabarum solicited the help of Los Angeles County lawmakers. Supervisor Ed Edelman said he did not even know about the effort and he did not think it had come up for a board vote,” reported the Times article.
“According to a Senate Democratic caucus analysis, the bill was designed to ensure that new cities have adequate tax bases.
“Legislative staffers suggested that one way to ensure enough tax revenues would be to include 926 acres of land owned by the Summa Corp. between Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey. Summa plans a huge residential and commercial development there called Playa Vista.
“Last week the Hughes estate agreed to give the state 73 acres of land east of Lincoln Boulevard as part of the settlement of the eight-year battle over Hughes inheritance taxes.”
The Times article continues, “The land, valued at a minimum of $75 million, is part of the Playa Vista development.
“Both the state and Summa would like the entire development annexed to the City of Los Angeles so the land could be served by the city’s water and sewer systems.
“‘We would much rather (have the land) be part of the City of Los Angeles,’” said John Jervis, a spokesman for Controller Kenneth Cory, who arranged the settlement with the Hughes estate.”
Gladstone’s Times article continued, “Benell said neither Los Angeles nor Summa has formally applied for the annexation. But the Playa Vista plans could be jeopardized if the Hughes property were included in the proposed city of Marina del Rey.”