SACRAMENTO — A controversial measure that could block a drive to incorporate Marina del Rey as a city was approved by the Senate Local Government Committee on a 4-0 vote Wednesday and sent to the Senate floor.
The bill, authored by Sen. William Lockyer (D-Hayward), would prevent any area in the state where less than 50% of the land is privately owned from becoming a city.
Backers of marina cityhood have proposed incorporating the county-owned marina as well as 803 adjacent acres owned by Summa Corp., which is planning a large commercial and housing development called Playa Vista. Slightly less than half the land in the proposed city would be in private hands.
Even if the Lockyer measure is approved by the Senate and the Assembly and signed into law by the governor, it would not take effect until next Jan. 1.
Will Continue Push
Meantime, Hy Tucker, president of Marina del Rey Cityhood Inc., vowed to push for incorporation. "We'll go ahead with our original plans," he said after the hearing.
Last week Tucker said his group had obtained more than double the 1,400 signatures of registred voters needed for the Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Commission to consider putting the incorporation on the ballot.
LaVaun Vawter, a director of the cityhood group, asserted that the strategy of the bill's backers, including marina landlords, "is to knock us out of the box this year and prevent us from coming back (to the commission) next year."
In March, the commission released a preliminary report that said a city of Marina del Rey would lose nearly $2 million in its first year of operation.
Lockyer told the committee that cities with more than 50% public land are "per se ridiculous" because they do not have an adequate tax base to support municipal services.
He said the bill grew out of conversations with other lawmakers about a similar bill that was proposed on the last day of the 1984 legislative session but not introduced.
Staying Out of Discussion
Lockyer said he participated in discussions about the earlier proposal with six or eight senators, including Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys). Robbins, who belongs to a partnership that owns a major marina leasehold, said he does not recall those discussions. However, he said he intends to abstain from voting on the bill to avoid any potential conflict of interest.
Lockyer said his bill is not aimed solely at the marina. However, most of his testimony and that of other witnesses dealt with whether the marina would be a viable city.
"It's greedy, rich yuppies who want to create a city on public land" and then impose rent control, Lockyer asserted.
Lobbyists for the Marina del Rey Lessees Assn., representing landlords with master leases in the marina, and Los Angeles County officials joined him in pushing for the measure.
And Lockyer rejected a suggestion from Assemblywoman Gwen Moore (D-Los Angeles), whose district includes the marina, that it be excluded from the measure.
Moore and other critics of the bill said it is a misconception that all marina tenants are wealthy.
Moore also contended that the process of petitioning the commission for cityhood already ensures that if a proposed city is not economically viable it will not be approved.
"This bill is about taking away local control," Moore said, her voice rising in anger. "This bill is about denying people the right to self-determination . . . that's why it's an outrage that this committee would even consider this trash."
The committee passed the bill with the minimum four votes necessary to send it to the Senate floor. In favor of the measure were Sens. Milton Marks (R-San Francisco), William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights), Newton Russell (R-Glendale) and Ruben Ayala (D-Chino.)
Ayala said he is opposed to the measure but agreed to support it as a favor to another committee member, Sen. William Craven (R-Oceanside), who was ill and could not attend the hearing. Besides Craven, Sen. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) was absent. Sen. Rose Ann Vuich (D-Dinuba) abstained.