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L. A. Promises Better Access to Venice Coast

April 28, 1985|LYNDON STAMBLER | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Planning Director Calvin S. Hamilton has told the state Coastal Commission that access to Venice's Marina Peninsula beach and other urban coastal areas will be improved.

In wide-ranging remarks before the commission last week, Hamilton said that the City of Los Angeles, which has not received approval for any of its local coastal plans, could complete plans for San Pedro, Playa del Rey, the Airport Dunes area, North Venice and the Marina Peninsula in the next eight months.

However, he said, plans for Pacific Palisades and the Oakwood/Millwood area have been delayed for another year. "There is no question we have not brought any plans back largely because we just frankly haven't had the staff to prepare them," Hamilton said.

Under the Coastal Act of 1976, cities are required to develop plans to address beach access and environmental concerns. The commission reviews those plans to see if they conform to the Coastal Act. Until the commission certifies the local plans, it retains the power to issue development permits in the coastal zones.

Beach Access Critical

Citing inadequate beach access in the Marina Peninsula, an exclusive and little-used beach area wedged between Marina del Rey and the ocean, the commission has refused to approve the plan. The city has yet to follow through on two key commission recommendations made in June, 1983: extending Ocean Front Walk south of Venice Pier and increasing parking.

The commission requested Hamilton's presence at last week's meeting after Mattison Coleman, a Venice developer, complained that his condominium project on the peninsula was caught in the middle of the dispute between the city and the commission. His project received city approval last year but was rejected in November by the commission because the local coastal plan had not been approved. After hearing Hamilton's remarks, the commission approved Coleman's project.

Hamilton said the city is developing a new coastal transportation plan that will be completed in two months. The plan calls for increased bus service, electric trolley cars and widening of Lincoln Boulevard in the Venice-Marina area into a "super-major highway," he said. He also said that the city will attempt to extend Ocean Front Walk, a proposal that has been blocked by local beachfront residents.

Commissioner Marshall Grossman complimented Hamilton on work in other parts of the city but said, "Unfortunately, my feelings about the planning or lack of it in the coastal zone are on the other side of the spectrum."

Land Swap Criticized

On the issue of increased parking, which the commission has said is a key to its approval of the coastal plan, Hamilton drew criticism for a proposal involving a multimillion-dollar land swap.

The plan involves trading 20 city-owned lots on the peninsula for 11 private lots along Ballona Lagoon, a habitat for many shore birds, including the endangered least tern.

"As far as the land swap is concerned," Grossman said, "I think the city would be best advised to forget it. . . . I can't imagine us permitting waterways to be filled in for the purpose of providing parking. . . . I would chart a more responsible course even if it means bucking the political powers at City Hall, Mr. Hamilton, because your staff is too little and our staff is too little to waste our time on matters which are probably calculated to fail."

Russell's Proposal

The land trade was proposed by City Council President Pat Russell and involves property owned by some of her major campaign contributors. Eight of the lots are owned by Venice Peninsula Properties, in which David Rome and his son, Clifford, are general partners. J. B. Graner, an oilman, owns the other three. Russell has said that the lagoon lots would be the best place to increase parking on the Marina Peninsula.

Russell has stated that to provide parking, the city would "undoubtedly" need to fill in some of the badly eroded private lots, a practice the commission has sought to restrict in wetlands areas. Ballona is one of two remaining wetlands in the Los Angeles area.

Despite questions about the land swap, Hamilton told the commission that the city has every intention of moving ahead with it. "I personally believe it's perfectly feasible to build a parking deck right next to the bank on pilings just as we do at a harbor and not disturb the environment. . . . I have to tell you that is a general difference of opinion between your commission and the City of Los Angeles, and I don't think the city has any intention of backing off."

Hamilton said he believes the city could get 500 parking spaces on the lagoon lots.

Old Study Cited 500

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