SACRAMENTO — For the second time in less than a year, a legislative attempt has been launched that could block Marina del Rey residents from forming their own city.
A bill, introduced the week of March 4-8 by Sen. William Lockyer (D-Hayward), would prevent residents from taking preliminary steps toward incorporation in areas where less than 50% of the land is privately owned.
Marina del Rey, an 800-acre waterfront community with at least 8,500 residents, is almost entirely owned by Los Angeles County.
Lockyer said he understood that the measure was given to his office by Los Angeles County officials concerned about cityhood in the marina.
He emphasized, however, that he also is interested in the broader issue of whether large chunks of public land should be turned into cities elsewhere in the state.
"There shouldn't be new cities that are 50% or more public property," asserted Lockyer, who was elected to the Senate in 1982 and now chairs the Judiciary Committee.
Los Angeles County officials say they have had nothing to do with the Lockyer bill. One high-ranking county official said the measure is being pushed by a marina developer, whom he declined to identify.
Supervisor Deane Dana, who represents the marina area, said he backs the measure, though he was not aware of it until early last week.
He contended that if Marina del Rey was incorporated, county residents could be deprived of some of the benefits of using county-owned facilities.
"I don't want the county to lose the marina," Dana said.
Dana said he learned about Lockyer's bill when Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), who represents the marina area, called him Monday to ask if the county had requested that it be introduced.
Lockyer's bill is similar to a proposal put forth by the conservative majority on the Board of Supervisors in the final days of the legislative session last summer. The proposal died before being formally introduced.
That effort was made as a cityhood drive by marina residents was getting off the ground. The cityhood campaign was triggered by fears that rents will skyrocket as county rent controls are phased out this year.
Watson speculated that the rent-control issue may be the motivation behind Lockyer's bill.
"I think they're (county officials) trying to secure that there be no rent control affecting Marina del Rey. That's my gut, knee-jerk reaction to it," Watson said.
She said she plans to watch the course of the bill and may ask Lockyer to drop it. "I think it's peculiar he would carry a bill for our county and not even touch bases with us (Watson and Assemblywoman Gwen Moore, a Los Angeles Democrat)."
Moore, who also represents the marina, said that since the incorporation drive appears to have slowed she is not sure whether the threat of cityhood is real. But she said the Lockyer bill would not be in the best interests of her constituents.
The cityhood drive became public late last summer when marina residents asked the county Local Agency Formation Commission to conduct a feasibility study of the cityhood idea.
The study, originally expected to be finished last year, now is expected to be completed within several weeks, said Ruth Benell, the commission's executive officer.
Upon completion of the study, cityhood backers may file a formal petition, including detailed maps and signatures of 25% of the marina's registered voters. If the papers are filed, the commission will have to decide whether to place the issue on the ballot.
Benell has said that she doubts that the marina has an adequate tax base to support a city.