Marina del Rey residents have collected enough signatures to force the county to consider incorporation of the 800-acre area, county officials said this week.
Marina del Rey Cityhood Inc. collected 1,468 valid signatures, 178 more than needed to require the Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Commission to study incorporation of the all-renter community.
Incorporation backers last month fell 127 signatures short in their first petition drive, but succeeded with a supplemental petition submitted last week.
"We're pleased that it went as easily as it did," said Stuart Simon, a spokesman for the incorporation group. "Twenty-eight percent of the registered voters have determined that they want self-government. We are pleased that we can move ahead to the next step."
That next step will be a hearing within the next three months before the Local Agency Formation Commission.
The commission can approve the application and send it on to the Board of Supervisors, modify the application or deny it altogether.
If the commission approves, the Board of Supervisors must set a cityhood election in Marina del Rey unless more than 50% of the marina's 5,160 registered voters file written protests.
Cityhood backers said they want local control so that they can impose rent control, limit high-rise construction and strengthen police protection.
The county rent control law that covered the area expired last year, leading to rent increases as high as 45%. Many tenants have been forced to move, cityhood supporters said.
Simon said Marina del Rey Cityhood Inc. will complete a study in the next month showing that the community, where all residents live in apartments or on boats, has a big enough tax base to provide services. A county study last year predicted that Marina del Rey would lose $2 million in its first year of cityhood.
Verification of the petitions Tuesday came just four days before the Feb. 15 deadline, after which a new state law will take effect. The law will give the Board of Supervisors power to kill incorporation drives in areas such as the marina in which more than 50% of the land is publicly owned.
The board is unanimously opposed to cityhood in Marina del Rey, according to Supervisor Deane Dana.
"Public funds built this marina," Dana said recently. "The tenants didn't build it. It is a public recreation area and should remain that. It is my opinion that it will be lost to perhaps a major degree if incorporation takes place."
Dana said a local City Council could reserve marina facilities for use of local residents instead of people from all over the county.
But Simon said cityhood backers have no plans to exclude outsiders from the marina's parks and boating facilities. He blamed the Board of Supervisors for limiting public use of the marina by allowing development of restaurants, hotels and shops that he said only the wealthy can afford.