By Helga Gendell
Part XVIII 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 that began in October 1984 was sourced in Part XV of the history series and continued in Part XVII.
In a March 14, 1985 Los Angeles Times article titled, “Bill Would Bar Cityhood for Marina,” reporter Mark Gladstone wrote, “For the second time in less than a year, a legislative attempt has been launched that could block Marina del Rey residents from forming their own city.
“A bill, introduced by Sen. William Lockyer (D-Hayward), would prevent residents from taking preliminary steps toward incorporation in areas where less than 50 percent of the land is privately owned. Marina del Rey, an 800-acre waterfront community with at least 8,500 residents, is almost entirely owned by Los Angeles County.”
The Times article continued, “Lockyer said he understood that the measure was given to his office by Los Angeles County officials concerned about cityhood in the Marina. He emphasized, however, that he also is interested in the broader issue of whether large chunks of public land should be turned into cities elsewhere in the state.
“‘There shouldn’t be new cities that are 50 percent or more public property,’ asserted Lockyer, who was elected to the Senate in 1982 and chairs the Judiciary Committee.
“County officials say they have had nothing to do with the Lockyer bill. One high-ranking county official said the measure is being pushed by a Marina developer, whom he declined to identify,” reported the Times article.
“Supervisor Deane Dana, who represents the Marina area, said he backs the measure, though he was not aware of it until early this week. He contended that if Marina del Rey was incorporated, county residents could be deprived of some of the benefits of using county-owned facilities.
“‘I don’t want the county to lose the Marina,’ Dana said.”
“Dana said he learned about Lockyer’s bill when Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), who represents the Marina area, called him to ask if the county had requested that it be introduced.”
The Times article continues, “Lockyer’s bill is similar to a proposal put forth by the conservative majority on the Board of Supervisors in the final days of the legislative session last summer. The proposal died before being formally introduced.
“That effort was made as a cityhood drive by Marina residents was getting off the ground. The cityhood campaign was triggered by fears that rents will skyrocket as county rent controls are phased out this year.
“Watson speculated that the rent-control issue may be the motivation behind Lockyer’s bill.
“‘I think they’re (county officials) trying to secure that there be no rent control affecting Marina del Rey. That’s my gut, knee-jerk reaction to it,’ Watson said,” reported the Times article.
“She said she plans to watch the course of the bill and may ask Lockyer to drop it. ‘I think it’s peculiar he would carry a bill for our county and not even touch base with us (Watson and Assemblywoman Gwen Moore, a Los Angeles Democrat).’
“Moore, who also represents the Marina, said that since the incorporation drive appears to have slowed she is not sure whether the threat of cityhood is real. But she said the Lockyer bill would not be in the best interests of her constituents,” according to the article.
“The cityhood drive became public last summer when Marina residents asked the county Local Agency Formation Commission to conduct a feasibility study of the cityhood idea. The study, originally expected to be finished last year, now is expected to be completed within several weeks, said Ruth Benell, the commission’s executive officer.”
The Times article continues, “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. If the papers are filed, the commission will have to decide whether to place the issue on the ballot.
“Benell has said that she doubts that the Marina has an adequate tax base to support a city.”
In a May 16, 1985 Los Angeles Times article, “Marina Fight Shifts to New Front,” reporter Gladstone wrote that the California state Senate panel was debating a bill that could block incorporation.
Gladstone wrote, “The battle lines were clear. On one side were Marina landlords and county officials backing the bill. On the other were Marina tenants seeking cityhood and Sen. Watson and Assemblywoman Moore, whose districts included the Marina.
“Meanwhile, a tenants’ group called Marina del Rey Cityhood Inc. announced that it has obtained more than double the 1,400 signatures of registered voters needed for the Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Commission to consider putting incorporation on the ballot.
“Hy Tucker, president of the group, said that more than 3,000 signatures have been collected. But he cautioned that they must still be certified by the county registrar-recorder’s office before the commission can proceed.”
The Times article continues, “In March, the commission’s director issued a preliminary report that said a new city in the Marina would lose nearly $2 million in its first year of operation.
“At the center of the dispute on the Lockyer measure is a provision that would prevent incorporations in areas where less than 50 percent of the land is privately held,” according to the article.
“In the 1,700-acre waterfront community of Marina del Rey, the county owns slightly more than half of the land and, in turn, leases it to developers for boat slips, hotels and apartments.
“Lockyer argued that he introduced the bill because of his concern that cities with more than 50 percent public land are not ‘economically viable.’”
The Times article continues, “Under those circumstances, he contended, there could be ‘a potential for little rotten boroughs that get created that way.’
“Lockyer, who has not been to the Marina, said he did not intend to have the bill focus on ‘local squabbles’ such as Marina del Rey cityhood.
“Nonetheless, Lockyer dropped another part of the bill on annexation after a dispute arose in his Northern California district. The provision would have blocked annexations unless at least 50 percent of the affected land is privately owned. After the bill was changed, a vote was delayed for a week.”
In a June 21, 1985 Los Angeles Times article titled “Marina Bill Becomes Political Hot Potato,” Gladstone wrote, “A controversial bill that could block a drive to incorporate Marina del Rey has abruptly gained a new author and turned into a political hot potato.
“First, Sen. Bill Lockyer (D-Hayward), who pushed the bill through the Local Government Committee and onto the Senate floor last month, dropped his proposal, citing ‘in-house wrangling.’
“Then, lobbyists for the Marina del Rey Lessees Association, a major backer of the bill, persuaded Sen. Joseph B. Montoya (D-Whittier) to step in to carry it. But Montoya said he was uncertain when he would seek passage.
The Times article continued, “Since taking over the bill, Montoya said he has been approached by two colleagues who are concerned about the measure. One, Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys), who purchased a portion of two Marina leaseholds last year, expressed concern that the bill could hurt him politically, Montoya said. And Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) was equally disturbed that Montoya was carrying a bill that affects her district.
“Lockyer introduced the measure early this year, proposing that areas containing more than 50 percent public land be barred from incorporating because they would not have an adequate tax base to support city services. Although the bill does not name the Marina, Lockyer has talked about how the measure could short-circuit cityhood for the 803-acre enclave of county-owned land,” the article reported.
“At the heart of the issue is whether Marina residents will be able to continue their cityhood drive after Jan. 1, when the bill would take effect if passed by both houses and signed by the governor. Cityhood supporters have gathered more than 1,400 signatures of registered voters in an attempt to place the issue on the ballot.”
The Times article continues, “Watson, who has not taken a stand on Marina incorporation, has been a leading opponent of the measure. In the past she has said, ‘To impose a state solution to a local problem is unjust.’
“Robbins repeatedly has denied any role in the proposal. The senator [Montoya] said he has been told ‘by at least one colleague that he was urged to vote for the bill on the basis that to do so would score points with Robbins.’ The San Fernando Valley lawmaker insisted that he has not been involved in lobbying for the bill and said he had underscored that point to his colleagues.
“’I’ve fully complied with disclosure laws that indicate I have an interest,’ Robbins added. ‘I’ve made it clear I’m going to abstain.’”
The Times article continued, “Last year, Robbins and his partners, including Los Angeles lawyer Doug Ring and his father Selden Ring, bought leaseholds for Deauville and Bar Harbor marinas valued at $36.9 million.
“The Rings have hired Jerry Zanelli, a Sacramento lobbyist and former executive officer of the Senate Rules Committee, to watch out for their interests in Sacramento. Zanelli also represents other Marina landlords.
“But in an interview, Doug Ring insisted that the family had not talked to Robbins about the bill, ‘And I honestly believe that to do so would be inappropriate,’” said Ring.