Transportation and economic development will be on the agenda for the State of the Marina address Wednesday, March 16 in Marina del Rey.

Fourth District Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe will be the featured speaker at the annual event, which will be held at the Marina del Rey Hotel.

Knabe noted that the voters have made transportation a priority by passing ballot propositions, indicating the importance of light rail projects like the Metro Green Line extension.

“It is important to remember on all these transportation projects that the taxpayers in Los Angeles County have voted to tax themselves three times in the last three decades, and are desperate for congestion relief,” the supervisor told The Argonaut. “The last one was Measure R, which specifically outlines the need for a Green Line extension to Los Angeles International Airport.”

Measure R is a 2008 ballot initiative approved by voters that raised county sales taxes by one-half cent for 30 years in order to fund transportation projects and improvements.

The supervisor views the lack of a rail connection to the airport as something that transportation officials should address as soon as possible.

“It is a glaring gap in our regional transit system, and a link to the airport would benefit travelers across the region and those who want to get around once they arrive in Southern California,” he said.

State Sen. Ted Lieu (D- Marina del Rey), who worked with Knabe as a state assemblyman on the Green Line extension proposal, promised to continue his work on expanding the light rail system to the Westside and the South Bay.

“That will be one of my top priorities in the Senate, as well as job creation,” Lieu said.

Last year, Knabe, who represents Marina del Rey, touched on similar themes: redevelopment projects in the Marina, as well as county infrastructure projects and the local impacts the recession is having on the Marina and the county Department of Beaches and Harbors.

The supervisor said the entire county could benefit by having a reliable light rail system, both in terms of transporting commuters without the use of automobiles as well as for commerce.

“The extension to the airport is a priority for the whole region because it will serve all those in L.A. County who fly through LAX, as well as the businesses which are supported by the visitors who come to Los Angeles,” Knabe said. “One of the added benefits of improving our transit system, beyond the mobility and environmental impacts, is the jobs that are created from project construction.”

Knabe will also address Marina-specific issues, like the recent passage of amendments to the Local Coastal Program.

“The LCP major amendment was made in response to the (California) Coastal Commission’s request for a comprehensive look at individual projects requiring LCP amendments, so that we wouldn’t be looking at projects piecemeal,” the supervisor explained. “It simplifies the Marina’s 14 existing development zones into three, and lays out a plan to improve recreation, boating, traffic congestion, infrastructure and parks.

“Following three years of community and stakeholder input, it is clear that most people recognize that the Marina needs some polishing.” Knabe continued. “The LCP amendment allows for a balanced approach to redevelopment and will move us forward in creating a special place to be enjoyed by boaters, visitors and all residents of L.A. County.

“Our next step is a visioning process in which community members and other stakeholders will develop a vision for the redevelopment of Marina del Rey for the next 15 to 20 years.”

Some in the Marina have questioned the county’s plan for redevelopment and have accused county officials of catering to wealthy developers at the expense of its residents.

“(Knabe) is a total sell-out to developers that are getting bailouts from the federal and local government to build white elephant projects like Del Rey Shores that no private financial institution wants to touch,” said Hans Etter, a Marina del Rey boat owner. “You do not have a commercial value in our marina if you don’t have a recreational value.”

Greg Schem, who owns the Boatyard in Marina del Rey, disagrees with that point of view.

“I would certainly like to see strong support for development in Marina del Rey,” Schem said. “Much of the infrastructure has reached the end of its useful life and is in need of repair.”

Knabe said economic development and transportation are intertwined and how the state budget crisis is resolved will affect the local economy as well as the region.

“In my current roles as board supervisor and chair of Metro, I see firsthand every day the interconnection of transportation, development and the economy,” he said. “On the budget side, the board is in ongoing talks with the governor on the state budget and its potential impacts on the county, which could have a dramatic effect on the services we provide, many of which are the final safety net for people in need.

“As chair of Metro, I’ve been lobbying our federal representatives and agencies for federal funding to support our transportation projects. We want to accelerate the timeframe on these projects to spur our economy and create jobs,” Knabe continued.

“Transportation – of both people and goods – is absolutely critical to the economic future of our region. In the Fourth District, we have the two ports and the airport, which are huge revenue-drivers for our region. But beyond the economic impacts, transportation is also a huge quality-of-life issue here in Southern California.”

Schem said he is happy with the progress that county officials have made thus far on development in the Marina. “I think we’re on the right path under the direction of (Beaches and Harbors Director) Santos Kreimann,” he said. “There’s been a larger concerted effort to get things improved here.”

Knabe will also address environmental projects in the Marina, including a county study to determine the appropriate approach to balancing habitat preservation and Marina development.