Valet parking is as commonplace in upscale Marina del Rey as boats, but boaters say it has no place in the Marina City Club parking lot, which they use when they board their vessels.
The boat owners are protesting plans by the county Regional Planning Department to require valet parking for people who keep boats at the club's 340 boat slips.
The plan is an attempt to compensate for parking spaces lost when a hotel is built at Tahiti Way and Via Marina.
Planners said the valet service, which will be free of charge to boaters, could begin in the next few weeks.
150 Owners a Day
On busy days, up to 150 boat owners use the Marina City Club parking lot, said Willie Hjorth, president of the Pioneer Skippers Boat Owners Assn., which is opposed to the plan.
Hjorth two weeks ago appealed the decision to the county Board of Supervisors after losing an earlier appeal to the five-member county Regional Planning Commission. The planning staff approved the parking plan on July 29.
Hjorth said boat owners were not notified of the plan, which she said will be a burden on those who need to have their cars nearby when loading supplies or doing repair work on their vessels.
Also, she said, the proposal sets a precedent for circumventing county-mandated minimum parking allotments for boat owners. The law requires at least three-fourths of a parking space for each boat slip.
Valet parking is "totally unacceptable," Hjorth said. "There is no way we're going to have valet parking. You just can't have ready access to your car with valet parking. This is an absurd type of maneuver to try to eliminate the boat owners' required parking spaces."
Larry Charness, chief of planning for the county Department of Beaches and Harbors, said the plan meets the minimum parking requirement while easing the parking crunch expected to be created by the hotel.
Construction on the 309-room Ritz-Carlton Hotel could begin as early as December, according to developers.
"It's not the ideal method for the parking of boat-slip tenants," Charness said. "It was one adequate way of resolving their parking needs."
He said the cars would be parked from 150 to 1,400 feet from boats. Boat owners currently park as far as 2,200 feet away from their boats when the lot is crowded, he said.
Officials of the Department of Beaches and Harbors met with boat owners on Oct. 4 and have scheduled another meeting for Tuesday to work out a compromise.
Representatives of Marina City Club owner, J. H. Snyder Co., will offer an alternative to its valet parking plan during the meeting. Company representatives refused to release details of the alternative plan.
Lew Geyser, a partner with the company, said the valet parking plan actually helps boat owners because they will be able to drive directly to their boats rather than having to walk from cars in distant parking spaces.
"All of a sudden valet parking is anathema to them," Geyser said. "For some reason they're upset. We thought that was the most wonderful solution."
Geyser said the company does not want to alienate the boat owners, who pay monthly rental fees for using the Marina City Club's boat slips.
Dave Cowardin, staff planner for the county Department of Regional Planning, said officials in July sent 540 letters to Marina City Club tenants notifying them of the proposed parking changes. However, renters of boat slips were not notified.
"There's no legal requirement to notify the boat owners," Charness said. "But in this case there was a legitimate concern and it would have been nice if they had" been notified.
Hjorth said officials stepped on boat owners' rights when they failed to send notice of the decision.
"I just can't fathom that kind of maneuver," she said. "I can't see how that is legal."