Contending that Marina del Rey would not be able to pay for municipal services as an independent city, the head of a state agency that evaluates cityhood applications has recommended that marina residents be denied a chance to vote on incorporation.
A report released this week by the Los Angeles Local Agency Formation Commission said the marina lost about $400,000 in the 1984-85 fiscal year, taking in about $5.5 million and spending about $5.9 million.
The report's author, commission executive director Ruth Bennell, also criticized cityhood supporters for wanting to control the 800-acre area, more than 50% of which is publicly owned.
All of the marina's approximately 10,000 residents are tenants. Bennell wrote that "it is questionable what control the renters could or should exert over this unique area which was developed with a substantial investment of public funds for the use and enjoyment of the entire county."
Bennell also wrote that the cityhood campaign is based solely on the hope that rent control would be imposed after incorporation. She wrote that "rent control in and of itself is not sufficient justification for the incorporation of a city."
On March 26, commissioners will conduct a public hearing on cityhood supporters' application to incorporate. If commissioners approve the application, the Board of Supervisors must set an election. If commissioners deny it, as recommended, cityhood backers will have no recourse but the courts.
Bennell's conclusions did not surprise cityhood backers, who forced the study by submitting 1,468 voters' signatures last month.
The commission staff "has been telling us from Day 1 that this is not feasible," said Stuart Simon, a board member of Marina del Rey Cityhood Inc. "We disagreed then; we disagree now."
Hy Tucker, president of the cityhood group, said the report will make it more difficult to win approval from commissioners at the hearing.
"It's going to be uphill," Tucker said.
But, he added, "we are prepared to come up with the figures" to prove that the marina could support itself as a city. A San Diego County consultant, who is a former local agency formation commissioner, is preparing such an analysis, he said.
The report overemphasized the rent control issue, both men said.
"We have not made rent control an issue," Simon said. "Rent control was made an issue. Had landlords not raised the rent 40%, 50%, 60%, it would not have been an issue, but cityhood still would have been."
The county rent control that covered the area expired last year. The cityhood group was formed in late 1984, Tucker said.
Simon and Tucker said cityhood backers also want strengthened police protection and limits on high-rise construction.
And, said Simon, "we have no one to talk to. We don't have a responsible elected official. There is no contact between him and his constituency."
Supervisor Deane Dana, who represents the marina, said he has deputies assigned to the marina area, and the county maintains information centers there.
Dana said he is "very pleased" with the report. "I've always said that incorporating the marina would be wrong," he said. "With this sort of report, I don't see how the commission can approve it."
Bennell's report concluded that a Marina del Rey city would not have enough money to operate essential services such as police, fire protection and public works programs.
The $5.5 million in estimated revenue included $1.3 million in sales tax, $1.3 million in public works fees and $1.1 million in hotel bed taxes.
The necessary expenditures included $3.3 million for police and harbor patrol and $1.3 million for public works.
Bennell also contended that the county's Marina Enterprise Fund, which pays for many of these services, would not be available to a new city.
And she wrote that the county might refuse to contract with a city to provide police and fire service, requiring the costly set-up of municipal departments.