The county Small Craft Harbor Commission on Wednesday voted 4 to 1 to recommend approval of the final details of a plan to sell 81-year leases on 600 luxury apartments at the Marina City Club.
With tenants picketing outside the county administration building in Marina del Rey, the commission approved lease prices ranging from $85,000 for a single unit to $725,000 for a four-bedroom penthouse. It also approved reassignment of Marina City Club's master lease to J. H. Snyder Co., replacing Marina del Rey Properties Ltd.
The commission's recommendation will be submitted on Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors, which has final authority over the controversial plan. Supervisors approved the concept of leases in the marina Oct.7.
Dissenting in the vote Wednesday was Commissioner Louis Rogers, who agreed with tenants' objections and said he expects that the 81-year leases "will not sell satisfactorily" because of questions about the investment value of leases under the unusual plan.
Residents questioned, for example, whether financing will be available for resale of the leases and whether the Internal Revenue Service will allow mortgage interest to be tax-deductible.
State Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) said in a Nov. 6 letter to the county supervisors that she believes the plan "abdicates the county's responsibility" to provide public access to the marina for all income levels. She said the long-term leases costing hundreds of thousands of dollars would "allow only the very wealthy" to live at and use recreational facilities at the marina.
The price schedule approved by the commission Wednesday is $85,000 for single units, $185,000 to $231,000 for units with one bedroom, $248,000 to $348,000 for two bedrooms, $305,000 to $415,000 for three bedrooms and $575,000 to $725,000 for three- and four-bedroom penthouses. In addition, residents would pay a land rent to the county and maintenance fees.
In her letter, Watson said she agrees with tenants' claims that they did not receive sufficient notice to prepare their objections to the 600-page document outlining the plan, and she asked the supervisors to set aside their Oct. 7 approval and give tenants a chance to fully present their case. Tenants currently are renting month-to-month or have one-year leases. Rents now range from $995 to $4,900 monthly depending on the type of apartment.
Speaking against the plan at Wednesday's meeting were representatives of the Marina Tenants Assn., Pioneer Skippers Boat Owners Assn. and the Marina City Club Residents Assn.
The residents' association filed suit Oct. 21 in Los Angeles Superior Court in an effort to overturn the plan, and a hearing is scheduled for Dec. 2.
Good Deal for County
Chairman David Boran represented the commission's four-member majority when he said that the lease-sale plan, which consultants say will bring the county from $1.3 to $1.4 billion in revenues over the 81-year period of the leases, "is a very good deal for the county."
County officials defend the plan, claiming that the estimated revenues will benefit residents countywide, while the current arrangement benefits only the tenants at Marina City Club.
However, at Wednesday's meeting residents' attorney Robert J. Steele disputed the county's revenue claims. He said that the figure of $1.3 billion in projected revenues is only $59 million in today's dollars when inflation and other factors are taken into account.
"It is a gross misrepresentation, if not fraud, to attempt to justify this absurd scheme on the basis of a fantasy that the county will magically reap $1.3 billion," he said in a statement given the commission.
Marina City Club residents claim that the plan will force hundreds of tenants out of their apartments and turn the marina into "a playground of the rich."
Residents said that, in addition to their mortgage costs, they will be obligated to pay the county rent totaling $1.8 billion, or $3 million for each of the 600 apartments, over the 81-year duration of the lease.