Marina del Rey tenants are intensifying their cityhood campaign in the face of a new state law that is expected to make incorporation efforts more difficult.
Proponents are meeting at marina apartment complexes to let residents know that the incorporation drive is still going strong in spite of the law setting a Feb. 15 deadline for filing cityhood papers, said spokeswoman LaVaun Vawter. Until now there has been no deadline.
Vawter said the cityhood committee expects to meet the Feb. 15 deadline.
Many marina residents are under the false impression that the controversial law, signed last week by Gov. George Deukmejian, would make incorporation nearly impossible, she said. "People are confused," she said.
Marina del Rey Cityhood Inc. is sponsoring the community meetings to inform tenants of continuing incorporation efforts, she said.
In addition, she said, the committee last week published an open letter in a local newspaper appealing to residents to donate money or volunteer their services to the incorporation effort.
"We are down to the wire now!" the letter states. "We need money to pay for legal and professional assistance. We need workers to carry the fight to all of the marina."
Vawter said that it will be a week before she knows what kind of response the committee is getting from the appeal.
In the meantime, she said, the committee is proceeding with its cityhood feasibility study for the county Local Agency Formation Commission, which may approve or disapprove the proposal.
Incorporation proponents suffered a setback in March when the staff of the commission said that incorporation "does not appear to be financially feasible."
The commission staff estimated that the proposed city would lose almost $2 million in its first year of operation, with $3.2 million in expected general fund revenues and $5.1 million in general fund expenditures.
Vawter said the cityhood committee will refute the commission staff's findings, which she said were "totally inflated on the expense side."
In addition, Vawter challenged the finding of commission executive officer Ruth Benell that the county would be entitled to keep all the revenue generated by the marina.
In her letter to the cityhood committee, Benell said, "Should an incorporation be pursued, the county would retain ownership of the marina and would continue to control all leases and operate the marina. All monies received from these programs would remain with the county."
But Vawter said the incorporation committee is seeking an outside legal opinion on this issue, and proponents say they believe that marina revenues should be available to pay for municipal services in the proposed city.
Vawter said that the committee has collected sufficient signatures to place the cityhood petition before the county commission. The committee needs 1,371 signatures, 25% of the marina's registered voters, to qualify.
After Feb. 15, the new law would make it more difficult to incorporate areas like the marina where more than half of the land is publicly owned.
After that time, the new law would allow the county Board of Supervisors to hold back a cityhood drive simply by objecting to the submission of petitions to the county commission.
The board supported the new legislation, carried by Sen. Joseph Montoya (D-Whittier), because it feared it would lose income if the marina was incorporated and rent controls enacted.
The county owns the land on which the marina was built, and receives income from leases to private developers who built the apartments, anchorages, restaurants, offices and hotels there. The county expects to receive about $13.4 million in revenues from the marina in the current fiscal year.