At the Los Angeles County Small Craft Harbor Commission meeting Wednesday, January 23rd, chairman Harley Searcy said that that meeting would be his last. After 13 years on the commission, he said he is stepping down to give more time to his family and business interests.

The commission then elected commission members Russ Lesser (former vice chair) as president and Vanessa Delgado as vice chair.

A number of audience members told Searcy how much he would be missed by them, even though meetings had been contentious at times, because of his innate fairness and willingness to listen to their problems relating to boating and development in Marina del Rey.

Stan Wisniewski, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, read a letter from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors acknowledging Searcy’s contributions over the years and the appreciation of the supervisors. Each commission member is appointed by a supervisor.

Wisniewski told Searcy it had been a pleasure working with him and he also presented him with a certificate from the Board of Supervisors.

During initial public comment, Marina boatowner John Nahhas said he was concerned about the minutes from the December meeting of the Small Craft Harbor Commission because many audience members had spoken about the Holiday Harbor lease option amendment and that very little of that information was in the minutes.

Nahhas complained the comment from all of these individuals was limited in the minutes, but that one representative of the Marina lessees was given five lines.

Searcy said the minutes were not intended to be verbatim, but a summary, and that with all of the testimony from audience members presenting the same information, “We refer to that.”

Searcy said the commission was open to “language suggestions” and there was no intent to disparage comments or speakers.

Nahhas also said that a letter from the Small Craft Harbor Commission to the Board of Supervisors dated December 19th about boat slip rate increases and maintenance of boater-related facilities had a lot of “language” in the last paragraph from Wisniewski.

Wisniewski said there had been a lot of dialogue in the last paragraph, and Searcy said he appreciated everyone’s input.


he letter, “Marina del Rey Community Concerns Over Boat Slip Rate Increases and Maintenance of Boater-Related Facilities,” is on the county Department of Beaches and Harbors Web site,

MARINA DEL REY SHERIFF’S STATION — Lt. Rod Kusch, harbormaster and head of operations at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Marina Station, reported that burglaries on boats in the Marina have shown a slight rise, and the suspects knew the boats would be unlocked because they know the victims.

Kusch advised boaters to keep their boats locked when they are not on them.

Deputy John Rochford said he is working on a complete audit with dockmasters about liveaboard and boat permits and will have the information for the next meeting.

COASTAL COMMISSION MEETING COMMENTS — In other business, Santos Kreimann, deputy director of the Department of Beaches and Harbors, presented a brief overview of the California Coastal Commission periodic review of the Marina del Rey Local Coastal Program (LCP).

Kreimann said county officials are waiting for the final documentation recommendations from the coastal commission staff and that the county will then have one year in which to respond.

Searcy told the audience that the Small Craft Harbor Commission deals with proprietary approvals within certain guidelines, and those are subject to the regulatory process.

“What we approve of that framework can be changed because of the regulatory side, dealt with by the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning and the California Coastal Commission,” Searcy said.

Nancy Vernon Marino said she wanted the commission to see a 15-minute video of the coastal commission hearing, but Searcy said it was too short a notice.

Marino said she wanted the opinions and findings of the coastal commission to be part of the Small Craft Harbor Commission record that day.

She then asked how commissioners could proceed when they know they don’t have appropriate information.

Searcy said the commission has to comply with coastal commission requirements, commenting, “Compliance shall be done, period.”

A variety of steps are necessary and the end result of the requirements as they wend their way through the process will be complied with, said Searcy.

Action on all issues before the commission violate the Local Coastal Program unless and until there is an amendment, Marino contended.

Marino again reiterated the complaints she and other residents have about development in the Marina, saying that there is a ludicrous imbalance, and that the county is trying to delay the LCP review, then water it down when they do receive it, and in the meantime get preliminary approval for projects, like a flood coming down onto the Marina.

She told Searcy that the Land Use Plan is policy and it is being ignored, and that just because development is being allowed it doesn’t mean it can all be approved.

“There’s a new deputy in town, and it’s the community,” said David DeLange, executive director of the Coalition to Save the Marina. “We were stunned at the outcome of the coastal commission vote.”

There’s a real failure to communicate on both sides, and the coastal commission explicitly acknowledged that the community isn’t being listened to by the county, said DeLange.

Nahhas said that the Marina lessees “aren’t stupid” and he alleged that they waited for a zero supply in boat slips and then increased the slip rates, a calculated move to raise the prices.

There is no regulation right now that requires ADA-compliant (Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant) dock gateways that take away more boat slips, nor is there any reason to build bathrooms on the docks and take away boat slips when they could be built on the land and take away apartment units, said Nahhas.

Nahhas likened the small boat slips to the food chain, and getting rid of small fish, comparing it to easing out the middle-income people.

“We’re very aware that the coastal commission found there’s a disconnect, and we’ve tried to work on closing that disconnect,” Searcy said. “I started here 13 years ago, and some of the people before me [on the commission] would have said, ‘I’ve heard it, sit down.'”

“Believe it or not, you’ve got people inside the process that get as frustrated as you do, believe the same thing as you do,” said Searcy.

Other speakers, including David Barish, spoke of boating surveys regarding slip fee ratios being extremely faulty.

Venice resident David Ewing said that sailing in the Marina harbor in the lee of the big buildings leaves sailors “dead in the water and it’s not sailing anymore.”

The Marina is unique, and the government that represents the Marina is also the landlord with a financial interest contrary to the needs of the Marina, said Ewing.

HOLIDAY HARBOR/PANAY WAY MARINA — Addressing old business, the Small Craft Harbor Commission discussed the Holiday Harbor/Panay Way Marina parcels and approval of an amended lease option and modification of redevelopment work and a leasehold area.

The commission voted to continue deliberation on these parcels until the next meeting after a number of individuals spoke against approval and the commission members said they needed more facts before they could make a decision.

Lesser said he would like to see drawings of how the property would look after new construction and redevelopment.

Holiday Harbor Marina, at 14025 Panay Way, is proposed to become a five-story, 29,300-square-foot mixed-use building comprised of a health club, retail space, marine office and yacht club.

An 87-slip marina and a 28-foot-wide promenade and pedestrian plaza are also proposed in renovations.

The Panay Way Marina parcel, located at 13953 Panay Way, proposed renovations that included 99 new apartments, a new parking structure with a new yacht club, office space, a 149-slip marina and a pedestrian promenade.

NEPTUNE MARINA — A Neptune Marina proposal for parcels at 14126 Marquesas Way would include renovations and construction of 526 new apartments, including affordable housing units, 161 boat slips, seven end-ties, a 28-foot promenade and public parking.

The commission voted to approve the proposal, recommending the project to the Board of Supervisors.