SACRAMENTO — A bill that would establish a coastal museum and marine observatory near the Venice Pier to educate the public about the state's shoreline has cleared its first hurdle in the state Assembly.
The Assembly Natural Resources Committee last week approved the proposal by Assemblywoman Gwen Moore (D-Los Angeles) on an 11-1 vote and sent it to the Ways and Means Committee, which has until June to consider it.
"It's important for us to acknowledge the coastal resource," said Moore aide Bob Jacobson, 37, who grew up in Playa del Rey. "No other state has a coast like this" with its diverse geography and population.
Jacobson envisions exhibits on the state's fishing industry, the contribution of the U.S. Navy and the preservation of the Big Sur coastline, among others.
Under the bill, the museum would be operated by the Coastal Commission and the state Department of Education to give people "an appreciation of their unique coastal environment, its economic and cultural contributions to life in California and methods for the preservation and enhancement of this heritage."
No Similar Facility
Moore, who said there is no similar public museum in the country, acknowledged that a variety of obstacles exist.
First, she has yet to figure out the cost of the museum and the source of funds. Jacobson said he hoped the museum could raise much of the money from private sources. One similar private project--the Monterey Bay Aquarium--cost $50 million when it opened in 1984.
Bill Allayaurd, legislative coordinator for the Coastal Commission, said last week that commissioners view Moore's proposal as vague but worthwhile. He said the commission is hard pressed to handle its current workload, and unless the Legislature provided additional funds the commission could merely take an advisory role.
Susan Lange, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said that she was unaware of the bill and that the department had not taken a position on it.
A potential problem for construction at Venice could be heavy surf, which periodically floods the area surrounding the pier.
Larry Charness, chief of planning for the county Department of Beaches and Harbors, which oversees the Venice Pier, said, "Anything constructed near the pier would have to be built on pilings and take into account the storm water."
Duplication of Services
Assemblyman Don Rogers (R-Bakersfield), who voted against the measure, said the museum could duplicate services already provided at private amusement parks such as Marineland on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
During the committee hearing, Rogers also voiced reservations that attendance at the museum would not warrant its construction. "I'm not sure there is a burning demand," he said.
Moore responded that she does not envision the museum competing against Marineland for tourist dollars. She foresees an educational institution that, among other goals, could give urban youngsters a chance to study displays about coastal life.
In the past year, the Legislature has helped finance several museums--the Hollywood Entertainment Museum, the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance in West Los Angeles and the Japanese-American Museum in downtown Los Angeles.
Besides Moore's bill, proposals are in the Legislature to establish several more museums, including one on Latino history and state history.
Because of the growth of state museums, Assemblyman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) has proposed a bill to establish a division of museums within the state Department of Parks and Recreation to administer them.