By Helga Gendell
Part XIX of the Marina del Rey history series continues to address the fight for cityhood by local residents and boaters at the time.
The drive for Marina cityhood began in October 1984 and was first sourced by the series in Part XV and continued in Parts XVII and XVIII.
In a June 28, 1985 Los Angeles Times article titled “Marina Cityhood Hits Roadblock in Capitol,” reporter Mark Gladstone wrote, “After an especially bitter debate, the state Senate narrowly passed a controversial bill that could short-circuit a drive to incorporate Los Angeles County-owned Marina del Rey.
“The action capped months of fierce lobbying, which pitted Marina landlords, fearful that cityhood would result in tough rent controls, against Marina tenants, who contend they want to have direct control over their waterfront community.
“The bill by Sen. Joseph Montoya (D-Whittier) was approved on a 22-11 vote — one more vote than the simple majority required — and sent to the state Assembly where another tough fight is expected.”
The Times article continued, “Opponents said that while the bill did not cite the Marina by name, it clearly was aimed at the area. Montoya’s proposal would prevent any area in the state with more than 50 percent of its land in public ownership from becoming a city.
“The county-owned 804-acre Marina, with boat slips and apartments is wedged between Venice and Playa del Rey. It enjoys the image of an affluent oceanfront community for young professionals.
“One of the leaseholders is a partnership that includes Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys). Robbins was not present during the debate and did not vote. He previously said he would abstain because it would be a conflict of interest for him to vote on the measure,” stated the Times
“In addition to the Marina del Rey Lessees Association, the bill was backed by Los Angeles County and the Marina del Rey Chamber of Commerce. It was opposed by the League of California Cities and tenant groups. The incorporation drive was started last year by a tenants group called Marina del Rey Cityhood Inc., according to the article.”
“A preliminary staff review of the proposal issued by the Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Commission said a new city with more than 10,000 Marina residents would face a first-year deficit of nearly $2 million because it would not raise sufficient tax revenues.”
The Times story continues, “The raucous Senate debate focused on the impact Montoya’s bill would have on the Marina and whether Montoya should carry a measure affecting the district of another lawmaker, in this case Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles).”
In a September 13, 1985 Los Angeles Times article titled, “Assembly OKs Bill to Impede Marina del Rey Cityhood Drive,” Gladstone wrote, “a measure that would make it harder for the 10,000 residents of Marina del Rey to form their own city and impose rent controls was approved by the Assembly by a 48-19 vote.
“But final passage was threatened by a dispute between the bill’s author, Sen. Joseph Montoya (D-Whittier), and Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco).
“Unless it can be ironed out today before the lawmakers go home for the year, Montoya said, he will shelve the bill until January.
“The flap revolved around a landlord-backed amendment that Montoya wanted to insert into his bill that would make it even tougher for Marina residents to form their own city,” stated the Times article.
“In a Senate speech, Montoya assailed Brown for refusing to relax Assembly rules so the bill could be amended in the Assembly. Minutes later, Montoya, Brown and Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) and other lawmakers huddled to thrash out the issue.
“Afterward, Brown insisted that if an attempt was made to amend the Montoya bill or any other legislation he would postpone action until next year. ‘There’ll be no more quick shots for anybody,’ said Brown.
“Under current law, the commission must receive petitions from Marina residents calling for cityhood and then decide if it’s economically feasible.”
The Times story continued, “The Los Angeles commission staff has preliminarily said the proposed city would face a first-year deficit of nearly $2 million.”
“Even so, Marina landlords sought tougher amendments that would have required a vote on Marina cityhood in all unincorporated areas of the county and allow Marina cityhood campaigns only once a decade. After Brown’s meeting with Montoya, the amendments were not introduced.
“Supporters of the bill contended that if the Marina were allowed to become a city, then residents, almost all of whom are renters, would impose rent controls and limit the amount of lease payments the county collects.
“Assemblyman Gray Davis (D-Los Angeles) argued that the county should have the right to develop these assets without being threatened with cityhood.”
In an Oct. 13, 1985 Los Angeles Times article titled “Bill to Derail Marina del Rey Cityhood Drive Signed Into Law,” Gladstone wrote, “Gov. George Deukmejian signed into law Wednesday night a controversial measure aimed at short-circuiting a tenant-led drive to turn Marina del Rey into a city that landlords fear would adopt rent controls.
“The new statute set a Feb. 15 deadline for filing incorporation papers. Currently there is no deadline. Cityhood supporters have maintained they will meet the deadline, forcing the Los Angeles Local Agency Formation Commission to decide whether the city would be economically feasible. Earlier this year, the commission staff issued a preliminary report asserting that the county-owned Marina would not have the tax base to support a city.”
The Times article continued, “A favorable ruling by the commission would have paved the way for an incorporation election in the Marina.
“But Hy Tucker, president of Marina del Rey Cityhood Inc., said cityhood has gained momentum because of the controversy surrounding the legislation, carried by Sen. Joseph Montoya (D-Whittier).
“‘We’re getting a lot more people coming out of the woodwork because they feel the bill in itself favors the lessees (Marina landlords) who had the bill introduced,’ said Tucker.
“In particular, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors could derail the cityhood drive merely by objecting to the submission of cityhood petitions to the Local Agency Formation Commission,” according to the article.
“The board, which supported the legislation, contended that the proposed city would enact rent controls and, in turn, limit county revenues from Marina leases.
“The 804-acre Marina, once a marshy stretch of coast between Playa del Rey and Venice, has become a major tourist attraction as well as home to about 10,000 residents, more than half of whom are executives or professionals.”
The Times article continues,
“Los Angeles lawyer Doug Ring, whose father, Selden Ring, is a major Marina leaseholder, explained that, among other things, landlords were afraid cityhood would lead to tough rent controls because most of the area’s voters are tenants.
[Doug Ring and his father Selden became partners with Sen. Alan Robbins in the Deauville and Bar Harbor marinas.]
“Initially, the bill would have prevented the cityhood drive from continuing after Jan. 1. But in a compromise, landlords agreed to extend the deadline to Feb. 15.
“‘Obviously, we got something less than we would have hoped to have seen, but that is the legislative process,’ Ring said.”
“The Times article continues, “Cityhood supporter Hy Tucker said his group will attempt to have the county expand the cityhood study area beyond the general boundaries of the Marina to include another 800 acres of vacant land between the Marina and Playa del Rey.
“The land, owned by Howard Hughes Properties Ltd., is the site of a proposed $1 billion development known as Playa Vista.”