The first meeting of the Small Craft Harbor Commission with Russ Lesser as chairman started off with an accusation by a public speaker that the commission was violating the Brown Act — which governs meetings of public bodies — and an objection to a change in format. The speaker refused to step away from the podium, causing Lesser to ask for the Marina Sheriff’s Department to return to the meeting.

The meeting took place Wednesday, February 13th, at the Burton Chace Park Community Building in Marina del Rey.

Lesser had announced that the meeting format would no longer require speaker cards if individuals wanted to speak publicly, saying that if people wanted to speak, they should just step up to the podium during public comments and sign in and speak.

He also said the meeting would follow the more traditional public meeting by allowing the proponents of a project to speak (such as the applicant/developers or people in favor of the project), followed by the opponents of the project.

The proponents would then be allowed a rebuttal, but the opponents would not.

This determination by Lesser prompted the public speaker to accuse him of violating the Brown Act, saying he would report the purported violation to “as many higher powers as it took” to get action.

The practice of speakers “ceding time” to other speakers was declared out of control by Lesser, who suggested that speakers with the same comments to make should appoint one person to represent them, and that person could, at the discretion of the commission, be allowed 12 minutes or more, rather than the existing three minutes per speaker, which Lesser said was too short for anyone to get their point across.


DEPARTMENT — Sheriff’s Lt. Rod Kusch, harbormaster and head of operations, presented the Marina del Rey crime report, saying that an allegation of rape in November turned out to be spousal rape, and that there was not an individual “out in the community” perpetrating this act.

Kusch again mentioned a recent boat theft, in which a boat was stolen in one basin and moved to another, and that a mechanic who had worked on the boat recognized it even though the name and identification number had been removed.

Kusch told the audience that paying attention to what is going on is a big part of crime prevention.

“If something doesn’t look right to you, it probably isn’t, and you need to call us,” said Kusch.

Sheriff’s Deputy John Rochford reported on the current count of boat slips and permits for liveaboards, saying he has a “checks and balances” system in progress with the dockmasters.

Targeting boats without permits is in the works, and Rochford said that although liveaboards pay their fees, many of the liveaboard boats would not pass inspection for a permit.

In other business, at the request of John Nahhas during public comment, Lesser asked county officials to come up with a report for the requirements necessary for being a legal liveaboard.

Nahhas said he would like to see a breakdown of liveaboard fees and legal requirements, asking if liveaboard status could be available in all anchorages in the Marina.

After numerous public requests over the past year by individuals inquiring about the alleged “sinking” of part of the Esprit I development, which is owned by Doug Ring, a representative from the Los Angeles Department of Public Works addressed the question.

The representative said all work at Esprit I had been properly done, implementing state codes and engineering code compliances, and that he had made no observations of leaking water or cracking windows as alleged by local residents and that he would sign off on the project.

HOLIDAY HARBOR-PANAY WAY MARINA — Once again, opponents to this project pointed out that the California Coastal Commission findings on not reducing boat slips are being ignored, as well as putting all development projects into one package without “piecemealing” projects, and instead bundling them into a “community development plan” with public hearings.

One speaker said that the developer, Goldrich & Kest, had made promises regarding its Capri Apartments project and that the promise should follow the project, namely that the marine commercial status would be retained on this project.

Nahhas presented photographs of double-space slips, showing two boats occupying them, contrary to what developer representative Sherman Gardner stated earlier, that only single boats occupied the slips.

After public comment with a number of speakers opposing the project, Lesser said that his question about how many boats are in this marina was not answered, as well as the number of powerboat slips versus slips for sailboats.

Lesser said that the question of where boaters would go while this marina is under construction was another issue.

Lesser said the matter would be continued for 30 days until the next meeting, although vice chair Vanessa Delgado said she was ready to vote approval for the development.

One resident commented to The Argonaut that as a fairly recent appointee to the commission by Supervisor Gloria Molina, Delgado did not have the necessary knowledge of the history of these developments and should have made more of an effort to gain that knowledge before she so quickly agreed to vote for approval.

SANTA MONICA WINDJAMMERS YACHT CLUB — The Small Craft Harbor Commission voted to approve a recommendation for a five-year lease agreement for the Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club, located adjacent to Burton Chace Park at 13589 Mindanao Way.

Members of the public also spoke in support of the recommendation.

Lesser asked county staff to invite representatives of the Los Angeles Department of Regional Planning to attend the next meeting, to be scheduled in March.