Community voices can lead to positive outcomes

By Edwina Magaña

The proposed Paseo Marina project would be located at the Villa Marina marketplace shopping center in Marina del Rey.
Courtesy of Edwina Magaña

Proposals for development of mixed-use, commercial retail and residential housing on the Westside is not new. Neither is the controversy that surrounds the matter. In this case, “matter” is not meant to be a pun.

This new development is an issue that affects local community members in a profound way, considering that it sets a precedence for the opportunity for proactive actions and voices in respect to addressing architectural designs and housing costs relative to post-pandemic conditions.

Additionally, there is an opportunity to address the social inequities related to urban development that continues to be perpetuated in our society.

Two investor-developers have begun plans that call for razing a collection of single-story commercial buildings and associated parking near Glencoe Avenue and Maxella Avenue in Marina del Rey to be replaced by mixed-use development that includes high-rise buildings and an increase in density and other significant changes that are a topic of controversy. The proposed Paseo Marina project would be located at the Villa Marina Marketplace shopping center.

The unprecedented pandemic, impacting our lives today, magnifies the need for individual and collective humanitarian action to address worldwide and community-level issues. As we rely more on computer-mediated communication modes to access information, there are people that are being alienated because of their preference or reliance on traditional forms of communication.

There are now virtual communities within communities. For those outside of these virtual communities, their viewpoints are missed. Whether by participating in a virtual neighborhood council meeting or reading a newspaper such as The Argonaut, community engagement continues to be of value. There continues to be the opportunity to share views amongst neighbors, make phone calls and/or write letters to express viewpoints concerning the surrounding community.

Within a community, longtime community members matter just as much as the more affluent population moving into the community. Equitable accommodations for all means that sacrifices and compromises need to be negotiated. Information needs to be disseminated in a large-scale manner and a high number of voices needs to be heard on matters that concern surrounding community members.

Whether or not this is speculative profiteering or developer-driven effort that benefits privatizers and other financial institutions or is a much-needed community revitalization project, a community-oriented approach to the decision-making process ensures that the project addresses important matters such as its impact on homeless, affordable housing, traffic congestion, legal zoning and density issues.

Perhaps it will bring construction jobs and minimum wage jobs to the area, but will it impede efforts taking place today to address the increase in demand for affordable housing and other unknown challenges that may result post-pandemic?

Will the project address the institutional housing inequity among all economic and ethnic groups or consider itself exempt? Could the future bring a decline in brick-and-mortar retail?

Will there be a trend to live in less dense communities? Will post-pandemic lifestyles and mindsets address disparities in our economy, gentrification and subtle re-segregation?

As community stakeholders, we can make a call to action to Mike Bonin, the 11th district councilmember representative for the Marina del Rey, Del Rey and Venice neighborhoods that are located closest to the proposed Paseo Marina project.

Bonin is considered an advocate for downsizing out-of-scale projects and opposing overdevelopment. As a legislator and representative of our communities, Bonin’s voice needs to be heard on the zoning and development of the current project proposal in Marina del Rey.

Additionally, Bonin needs to know where his constituents stand on the issues surrounding this project. As an elected official, it is our councilmembers’ responsibility to be apprised of and responsive to the needs and matters of concern of their constituents.

There are those that welcome the new development and opposers to the development as well as those that are perhaps complacent, unaware and/or unconcerned about the development in the area.

Our councils abide by constitutions, statues, ordinances and policies that are meant to support and manage the needs of our community. They represent our community leadership.

“Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.”

– Warren Bennis

Neighborhood councils are advocates for our local voice, leading to fulfillment of community needs and addressing community concerns through their feedback to higher-level government policy makers and public funding providers.

I would like to encourage all community members to participate in city council and neighborhood council meetings and other forums in a manner of their choice.

At the time of submission of this article, the communications position on the Del Rey Neighborhood Council was unfilled. The Paseo Marina project is pending. This is one of the factors that led to my reaching out to the local Argonaut newspaper to reach community members. I would like to encourage community members to be active participants in getting their concerns, ideas and issues, as well as positive feedback, heard at their local council meetings.

The Del Rey Neighborhood Council holds monthly meetings via Zoom. The next virtual Land Use & Planning/Green Sub-Committee meeting is scheduled for Feb. 18.

I am encouraging my neighbors to use their voices to share their viewpoints in regard to community sustainability, and actively push back and oppose the upswing of any exploitative or inappropriate planning in the community, as well as support projects that they deem aligned to the lifestyle and desires of the local community members.

Power to Speak is The Argonaut’s guest opinion column for community members to voice their views on local matters and does not represent an editorial position or endorsement by The Argonaut. The opinions, experiences, research and data analysis expressed in this article are the author’s own. Have a unique point of view on a neighborhood matter or a national issue with a local twist? Email kkirk@