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Fear Creation of 'Playground for Rich' : Marina Tenants Sue to Halt Conversions

October 23, 1986|BARBARA BAIRD | Times Staff Writer

Marina City Club tenants are seeking a court order to overturn a county plan that would convert their luxury apartments into condominium-like units with 81-year-leases that the tenants say may cost as much as $300,000.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims that hundreds of tenants will be evicted because of the controversial plan approved Oct. 7 by the Board of Supervisors.

The Marina City Club Residents Assn. claims in the lawsuit that the plan will cost the county more than $565 million in lost revenues and will turn the marina into "a playground for the rich."

Response From County

Robert W. Rodolf, deputy county counsel, said Wednesday that although he had not yet seen the complaint, the issues read to him from the lawsuit appeared to be ones already considered by the supervisors in their deliberations over the Marina City Club plan.

"If they say they did not have adequate time to respond, what they were told at the hearing is that they had the time to respond that the law recognizes," he said.

"As far as the economic terms of the transaction, I think they speak for themselves," he added. "The county and the board felt that it would substantially improve its rentals (rental income) over the term of the transaction" under the new plan, he said.

Meanwhile, county officials and Marina City Club developers have scheduled public meetings today and next Wednesday to disclose the prices they plan to charge for the leases on 600 apartments in the club's high-rise towers.

The proposed prices are of critical interest to tenants and others who are interested in whether the marina, built on public land, provides sufficient access to county residents of all income levels.

Some analysts earlier estimated that prices will range from $200,000 to $500,000 with a down payment of $63,000, but these figures have been guesses rather than actual proposals, officials said.

Financial problems, tenants' rights and other key issues will be discussed at the two public meetings scheduled by the county Department of Beaches and Harbors, developer Marina del Rey Properties Ltd. and J. H. Snyder Co., which plans to take over the project.

County Approval Needed

The proposed prices and reassignment of the master leasehold to the Snyder company are subject to approval by the county Small Craft Harbor Commission and the Board of Supervisors.

The public meetings will convene at 7 p.m. today at the Marina City Club and at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Burton Chace Park Community Center.

Supervisors earlier this month approved the conversion from apartments to long-term leases in spite of widespread tenant opposition. About 500 of the 600 residents have signed petitions protesting the plan.

County consultants estimate that the conversion would generate $1.4 billion in revenue for the county by the year 2067, when the new lease between the developer and the county would expire.

Higher Revenue Possible

However, an analysis by tenants indicated that the county would have made an additional $500 million if the old lease had been retained, and the county would have kept the right to sell the building when the agreement expired in 2028.

The conversion plan gives Marina del Rey Properties Ltd. or its successor an 81-year master lease on the Marina City Club property. The developer will be allowed to sell 81-year prepaid subleases to tenants, who in turn can sell their sublease to a new occupant.

Supervisors approved the plan because of its projected financial benefit to the county, but opponents said the county is taking a considerable risk in such an unconventional and untried use of public property.

Opponents question whether tenants will be able to get mortgage financing for long-term prepaid leases.

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