By Helga Gendell
Part XVI of the Marina del Rey history addresses the delay of a rent decontrol plan by Marina boaters and the purchase of marina sites by then state Sen. Alan Robbins and two partners.
Part XV reviewed local residents’ attempts at cityhood for Marina del Rey because of escalating rental prices for apartments and boat slips at the time.
In a Sept. 16, 1984 Los Angeles Times article titled “Marina Boaters Delay Rent Decontrol Plan,” reporter James Rainey wrote, “Marina del Rey boat owners succeeded last week in delaying a move by the Los Angeles County Small Craft Harbor Commission that would decontrol rents on all 6,500 boat slips in the Marina for four years.
“A change considered by the commission would have granted a 10-percent slip rental increase this year and each of the next three years before allowing rents to hit the fair-market level in 1988.
“A vote was put off until the commission’s Oct. 10 meeting after boat owners protested that decontrol could force them out of the Marina.
The Times article continues, “Victor Adorian, executive director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors, backed the increase as a way to raise revenue. Under the plan, a formula used since 1981 to determine slip rates in the Marina would be dropped.
“The formula, based on the consumer price index and rental rates at other Southern California marinas, has allowed slip rents to jump this year to an average of $6.50 per foot of boat length per month from $3.95 in 1981, a 64 percent increase.
“Although many boaters consider those increases high, they are even more fearful of decontrol. Uncontrolled slips in Newport Bay rent for as much as $11.84 per foot, nearly double the rate in the Marina,” stated the Times article.
“Slip rental rates have long been a point of contention in the Marina, with boaters, anchorage operators and county officials taking conflicting positions.
“The county receives 20 percent of the revenue from slip rentals and stands to gain substantially more money if market rates prevail. The Marina is expected to collect $11.5 million this year in rent from apartment and anchorage operators, but just $6 million will be used for operating expenses, leaving $5.5 million for the county general fund.”
Rainey’s Times article continued, “Estimates have not been made of how much the county would profit under decontrol. Anchorage operators who lease from the county said profits are being unfairly limited and they want slip rates to increase to the market level immediately, not after four years.
“But activists in the boating community said the rates should be controlled because the Marina is owned by the county and was built for the benefit of county residents, not to maximize profits for anchorage operators.
“The boaters reason that because the state Coastal Commission limits construction of new slips up and down the coast, rents must also be controlled so they will not soar out of reach of the average boat owner.
“‘If this (decontrol) proposal goes through, I would say the prices here will be within 10 percent or 15 percent of what they are paying in Newport,’ said boater Chris Warner. ‘And there is no place else to go to get a slip.’”
“Warner pays $567 a month to live aboard his 53-foot boat, the Panther, in the Dolphin Marina, one of 17 anchorages in Marina del Rey. He paid $119.25 when he moved in 10 years ago (Liveaboard rates are higher than standard slip rental rates),” the Times article reported.
“John Hjorth, a member of the Pioneer Skippers Association, said his slip provides an example of increasing slip rates. When he came to the Marina in 1964 he paid $43.75 per month for a 35-foot slip. Today he pays $308.25 per month for a 45-foot slip.
“Ronald Rouda, a lawyer for the 1,000-member association, said profit figures should be made public to determine if operators are making ‘a fair and reasonable return on investment’ as called for in the Marina’s master lease.
The Times article continued, “The harbor department has refused to publicize profit figures for individual anchorage operators. But Eric Bourdon, assistant director of the department, said the figures are monitored by the department and show operators make ‘an acceptable rate of return’ on their investment.”
“Gross profits from slip and apartment rentals in 1982 rose from 31 to 63 percent, according to reports from the operators, Bourdon said. Those returns are comparable to similar businesses, according to reports from the Institute of Real Estate Management, Bourdon said.
“Rouda said boat owners object to operators, rather than the county, getting most of the profits from slip rentals. He suggested renegotiated leases that give the county more than 20 percent.
The Times article reported, “Leases with anchorage operators are subject to renegotiation after 20 years and 15 are being renegotiated. The county believes it should get 25 percent of the revenue from slip rentals, according to Bourdon.
“But even with renegotiations, harbor department officials insist that the fair level for slip rentals should be determined by the open market.
“Pointing to the construction and planning for 3,700 new slips in Long Beach, Ventura, Channel Islands Harbor and Marina del Rey, Victor Adorian, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, said the Southern California shortage has been ‘substantially abated.’ Because the market is more open, he said, decontrol of prices is reasonable,” stated the Times article.
SEN. ROBBINS AND TWO PARTNERS BUY MARINA LEASES —
In an Oct. 7, 1984 Los Angeles Times article titled, “Robbins, 2 Partners to Buy Marina Sites,” reporters Rainey and Mark Gladstone reported, “State Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys) and two partners plan to jointly purchase two Marina del Rey complexes for nearly $37 million in the Marina’s first major lease sale in three years.
“Two partnerships, one controlled by Robbins, are buying the leases at the Bar Harbor and Deauville marinas. The Los Angeles County Small Craft Harbor Commission, which oversees operations in the Marina, was scheduled to review the proposed purchase and pass on its recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.”
The Times article continues, “Officials of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors have recommended that the commission approve the sale of leases to one partnership headed by Robbins and another formed by Selden Ring and his son, Doug.
“Each partnership will own 50 percent of the joint venture, said Adorian. But Robbins said that ‘the bulk of the cash obligation’ for the purchase will come from the Rings’ partnership.
“The joint venture plans to buy two leaseholds, which are among 55 in the Marina. They were developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s between the county and private firms. The leases run for 60 years, but the terms are renegotiated after 20 years.
The Times article continued, “The county receives more than $10 million a year in revenues from the Marina.
“County rent controls, which have placed a lid on marina rent increases, are scheduled to expire beginning Jan.1.
“Doug Ring, a former aide to ex-Supervisor Baxter Ward, said the ownership change would not have much impact on rents. He foresees no ‘tremendous’ rent increases for Bar Harbor and Deauville tenants.
“The county has started to renegotiate the Bar Harbor lease but will not begin to renegotiate the Deauville lease until 1990.”
“Robbins, who developed apartment buildings before his election to the Senate and remains an active investor in real estate, said projections show the acquisition will not make money for several years,” according to the Times article
“Once the purchase is approved by the supervisors, Robbins and his partners are obligated to pay current leaseholder A.C. Black, one of the original developers of the apartments and slips, the entire purchase price of $36,950,000.
“Of the total, $18,675,000 is for the Deauville Marina, a complex of 120 apartments, 500 boats slips and the Captains Wharf restaurant at the end of Marquesas Way. The remaining $18,275,000 is for Bar Harbor, which includes 288 apartments, 253 boat slips and the Benihana of Tokyo restaurant at Via Marina and Panay Way.”
The Times article reported, “Last month, county supervisors approved a plan for further development on both leaseholds.”