Residents of the Marina del Rey area told Los Angeles County officials this week that a land-use plan for the marina needs to be changed to provide more parks, pedestrian walkways, bicycle trails and less high-rise development.
Those suggestions were voiced Monday night as county planners held the first in a series of meetings to seek public comment on revisions to the Marina del Rey local coastal program adopted in 1984. County planner Ron Hoffman said the process is expected to take up to two years to complete.
The county, which owns the entire marina and leases most of it to private developers, is eager to move forward with so-called second-generation development of the harbor. The current land-use plan calls for adding 743 hotel rooms, 462 restaurant seats, 1,500 residential units, 200,000 square feet of office space, 14,000 square feet of commercial space and 20 acres of boat slips to the existing marina.
But county officials have concluded that the rigidly defined land-use plan needs to become more flexible to allow the marina to compete with massive developments planned for the immediate area. The California Coastal Commission last September gave approval to very limited redevelopment of the marina until methods can be found for handling the traffic generated by additional building.
Most of the dozen marina area residents who spoke at the meeting expressed concern about the traffic impacts of major development. Several voiced opposition to construction of a long-delayed and controversial bypass road that would carry Marina Expressway traffic around the marina.
Paul Doebler, president of Villa Marina East, a large homeowners group outside the marina, said planners need to accept that there is "a finite amount of traffic capacity" in the Lincoln Boulevard area. He said the county should "down-scale and build what will fit the community" rather than ringing the marina with high-rise buildings.
Doebler questioned why the county would want more hotels to be built when there is a glut of hotel rooms in the area. He urged planners to make economic choices about the future of the marina before making land use decisions.
Iylene Weiss, who also lives near the marina, said the county could solve the density problem by not including as much development in the land use plan. She urged county officials to provide parks, open space, bicycle paths and senior citizen housing instead. "Let's give the public some uses," Weiss said.
Jack Wood, president of the Pioneer Skippers, a boat owners association, urged the county to consider drainage improvements to prevent storm drains from dumping pollution into the marina. He also urged the county to require the use of dye tablets in boat holding tanks to discourage illegal dumping of waste water.
Several speakers urged the county to include in the revised plan precise land uses for part of the massive Playa Vista project that lies within county territory. Developer Maguire Thomas Partners has proposed building a new 45-acre marina with residences, hotels, shops, restaurants and boat slips on the property immediately south of the present marina.