The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appears to have “listened” and understood that residents of Marina del Rey and adjacent communities, including the Silver Strand neighborhood in Venice, are no longer willing be kept in the dark about what the County, the Los Angeles Regional Planning Board and the Los Angeles Department of Beaches and Harbors are planning in terms of development in Marina del Rey. Their decisions affect everything from increased traffic on Via Marina, Via Dolce, Washington and Lincoln Boulevards to lack of emergency egress and access, to name just a few problems. As a result of long-term complaints to the BOS about transparency in the development of Marina del Rey, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and their Regional Planning Board have initiated a series of public “Visioning” meetings where the public can express their opinions and concerns. The first of these meetings was held on April 25, 2013 in the “Regatta Room” at the Marina del Rey Hotel. As the Silver Strand News was out of town, Fred Karlsen, Silver Strand homeowner and President of the SSMHOA kindly furnished this report:
The meeting was packed with all chairs taken and many standing. Several Silver Strand residents were in attendance, including Judy Coleman, Sandy Gooch, Marilee Karlsen, Nora Nicosia, and Harry Lederman. The meeting was chaired by Gina Natoli, Supervising Regional Planner with the County Department of Regional Planning. Ms. Natoli will be directing the “Visioning Process” for Marina del Rey. Kevin Finkel, a County Regional Planner, will be working with her. The Department has also hired MIG, an independent consulting firm, to assist with the community outreach project.
Ms. Natoli told the audience that County planners will solicit community input until mid-September 2013. It will then draw up a report that could result in changes to the Marina del Rey Local Coastal Program. The report will be submitted to the Board of Supervisors in the late summer or fall of 2014. During the community input period, Los Angeles County planning representatives will also attend smaller neighborhood meetings, including those of various Homeowners Associations to address their questions and concerns.
Following a brief statement about the Visioning Process and what its goals are, Ms. Natoli asked for questions from the audience. The meeting turned to questions (that often became comments). Comments were summarized on a large whiteboard manned by a county employee; the whiteboard was completely filled by the end of the questions. Ms. Natoli handled the entirely negative questions and comments well, although she made one statement that was clearly incorrect: that “lots of traffic in the Marina is pass-through traffic.” That elicited a vocal negative response. Over-development of the Marina is already resulting in increased traffic and bottlenecks both within the Marina and on streets in adjoining neighborhoods. Also, she stated that nothing in the visioning process will stop development that is already underway in the Marina and that there is not much coordination between the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County on the latter’s building projects in Marina del Rey.
Among the many people lined up to either ask questions or comment were the President of the Marina Boat Owners Association, the President of the Rowers Association, the President of the Strand Colony Homeowners Association, the President of the Silver Strand Marina Homeowners Association, the President of the Strand Colony Homeowners Association and the former President of the Venice Neighborhood Council.
The following were among the issues raised by the audience:
1) The noticing process to MDR residents and adjacent communities is inadequate. Why has there not been more outreach to the community at large? MDR, funded by the taxpayers, belongs to the public, not the JUST THE MDR COMMUNITY. The County’s ongoing failure to notify and reach not only to residents of MDR, but all communities affected by their actions on development in Marina del Rey, has resulted in fewer citizens attending the meetings and giving developers and their lobbyists too large a voice in the fate of the Marina.
2) Although many members of the public, organizations and associations have diligently attended County meetings on development in Marina del Rey over the last decades and given their input, their suggestions seem to have been ignored and resulted in little change to the County’s development plans. The County wants big buildings and the revenue from them. Are these public meetings “just theater?” In other words, is the County really going to pay attention to public input from these meetings to achieve any meaningful change in their plans? Or, are the meetings simply “pro forma” theater designed to make the County look as if it’s doing a good job. MDR was built as a recreational area, and that is the basis for Congress appropriating funds for dredging and construction. The notion of providing funds from leases and taxes to the general fund of Los Angeles County was not what was originally intended when MDR was created. Why aren’t members of the Board of Supervisors attending these meetings.
3) If the county wants more money, it should focus on redeveloping Fisherman’s Village, which is now largely vacant. Busloads of tourists are dropped off there but, in it’s present state, it is an embarrassment to MDR. It has, even now, a great deal of charm, but because so many commercial spaces there are vacant, it is dead in the water.
One speaker, perhaps in good humor, said his vision of MDR was to remove all buildings including apartments and condos, and go back to the original 1954 plan for Marina del Rey.
Ms. Natoli said that the next community event is a walking tour scheduled for June 1, 2013. However, no details about this or other planned community meetings have been furnished on the County or Planning Board websites so far. Nor has the community been notified of same.
Ms. Natoli said the County will be setting up a site for community input, which will be operational as of June 30, 2013. The site is: planning.lacounty.gov/marina/visioning
For the DRP’s report on the June meeting go to:http://planning.lacounty.gov/marina
In the meantime, for more information, Gina Natoli can be contacted at: