The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing which includes approval of granting a lease option to Samuel Hardage to develop two Marriott brand hotels on Parcel 9u, the vacant lot on Via Marina between Marquesas and Tahiti Way. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 9:30 am at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration at 500 West Temple Street, Los Angeles California 90012. Fair warning: this item is number 40 on the agenda, so if you wish to speak you will likely have a long wait. You will need to fill out a speaker card. The standard time to present your statement is 3 minutes, but this can be shortened at the discretion of the BOS Chair. Questions to the Board are not allowed.
This project is a Marriott Residence Inn and Marriott Courtyard Hotel (formerly known as the Woodfin Hotel Suites and Time Shares). The two hotels will have 288 rooms in all – see post of November 7, 2014 for details. The project has had a long and contentious history (you can search this site under “Woodfin” for same). As in the case of the Woodfin, the applicant is Samuel Hardage, now listed as MDR Hotels, LCC. His Woodfin hotel chain is now defunct following his filing for bankruptcy on behalf of the chain in several states.
It appears that the Board of Supervisors is trying to rush this approval through prior to the seating of two newly elected Supervisors, Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis who will take office on December 1, 2014. The Board’s haste is obvious in that the first public noticing of the lease-option document and Addendum to the Final Environmental Report appeared only appeared online on November 6, 2014. The first and only public hearing on the these two documents and the lease option was held on November 12, 2014 at a meeting of the Small Craft and Harbor Commission at Burton Chace Park. Given the importance of the issue, both the timing of meeting and the debut appearance of these documents before this particular Commission struck many as being highly unusual. The meeting was held on a weekday morning preventing much of the working public from attending to express their views. As a result only 20-25 members of the public were in attendance. Further, it was held less than a week prior to the lease-option being considered for approval by the County Board of Supervisors next Tuesday, November 18.
The Documents pertaining to the project and the lease-option can be found here: http://file.lacounty.gov/dbh/docs/cms1_205242.pdf
During the meeting last Wednesday, Commissioner Russ Lesser (Fourth District) expressed dissatisfaction with the extremely short time the Commissioners were given to review the foot-high package of documents placed at their side, two of which totaled over 500 pages in length (see link above) He also said that he disliked the lease option concept. The lease-option arrangement allows Hardage to put down a $100,000 non-refundable deposit and grants him 2 years, plus a possible 6 month extension to get his entitlements, approvals, permits and financing in place. During the construction period, Hardage would pay $107,500 a year in rent to the County. When Hardage receives a Certificate of Occupancy, he will begin paying an escalating rent over an 11-year period. The total rent over this period will be an estimated $51,152 490 plus hotel tax followed by a renegotiation for the remainder of the 60 year lease term. Commissioner Dennis Alfieri (Fifth District) disclosed that he knew two of the developers (even though only one is listed in the lease, see below) but had no financial interest in the project. There were calls from the floor for him to recuse himself which he declined to do.
Those who filled out speaker cards at were uniformly negative in their views on the project on many counts. Chairman Allyn Rifkin (Third District) neglected to call one resident who had filled out a speaker card and not heard from. Another resident (myself) , was cut off short, even though a staff member had told her that another speaker who filled out a card could cede his time to her and did so. The already approved time extension was denied despite calls from the floor to allow her to continue. Public speakers raised many objections to the project. One speaker reminded the Commission that publicly owned Marina del Rey was not created as a tourist attraction but as a center for pubic recreation and boating in particular. Another questioned the need for another hotel when there are already 6 hotels within a short distance of each other on Via Marina and Admiralty Way with a 7th planned for Fisherman’s Village. There was an objection to the project increasing the traffic situation on Via Marina, already impacted by massive County approved apartment complexes, built or pending. Another speaker talked about the lack of sufficient planning for ingress and egress of emergency services. Two speakers stated that a far better use of the 3.66 acre site, the largest undeveloped parcel left in the Marina, would be a public park and educational center. One speaker stated that this hearing and the BOS hearing should have been scheduled after December 1, 2014 when Kuehl and Solis take office since they will have to live with the consequences if the lease option is approved. In addition there were comments about the County’s continued success in blocking off views of the harbor from Via Marina (an officially designated scenic drive) with its aggressive approval of large commercial/residential projects in order to generate cash for its general fund. It was further noted that the construction phase of this project, if approved, will likely coincide with the City’s proposed routing of the Venice Dual Force auxiliary pumping line down Via Marina from Marquesas Way south to the channel. Work on the sewer will reduce Via Marina to one lane in each direction for an estimated 20 months.
Despite the disapproval expressed by the members of the public, the Small Craft and Harbor Commissioners approved the agreement by a 3 to 1 vote. Approving were Russ Lesser, David Lumian (vice-Chair) and Dennis Alfieri. Only Chairman Allyn Rifkin voted nay.
The meeting also included a presentation by the City of Los Angeles on the proposed Venice Dual Force auxiliary sewer line. A separate report on this will follow.
If you are unable to attend the BOS meeting next Tuesday, November 18, you can send an email expressing your opinion to the following Supervisors. You should do so before November 18 in order for your email to be entered into the public record. You can send a single email placing all of the names below in the “To” line.
Zev Yaroslavsky: <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Gloria Molina: <email@example.com>
Don Knabe: <firstname.lastname@example.org><email@example.com>
Mark Ridley-Thomas: <MarkRidley-Thomas@bos.lacounty.gov>
Michael D. Antonovich: <FifthDistrict@lacbos.org>