Despite longstanding community opposition, Los Angeles County planners have resurrected a proposal to build a four-lane freeway bypass next to a residential area on the edge of Marina del Rey.
The planners told a public meeting last week in the marina that the county Public Works Department wants the controversial Marina Bypass to remain in a revised plan for intensive redevelopment of the harbor.
Although no final decisions on the land-use plan have been made, the idea that the bypass might be considered as a transportation option struck a nerve with area residents who have battled the roadway for years and thought the concept was dead.
"Get rid of the damn bypass!" said Paul Doebler, president of the Coastal Area Support Team, a group concerned with development issues along heavily traveled Lincoln Boulevard. "Get it out of the plan."
Judy Wyluda, a resident of the Oxford Triangle neighborhood that borders the bypass route, protested that the residential area of Venice would be inundated with "astronomical traffic" if the bypass is allowed.
"The Marina Bypass is still lurking in the back yard for us," complained Ruthann Carlisle, another neighborhood resident.
Even Robert Leslie, executive vice president of the Marina del Rey Lessees Assn., which represents marina developers, said he was very disturbed to hear that county planners were acquiescing to the Public Works Department in keeping the bypass in the land-use plan.
Leslie told the planners they were "asking for all sorts of problems" because he doesn't believe the bypass will ever be approved politically.
While acknowledging that the roadway is not politically viable today because of strong opposition from Los Angeles Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, Principal Regional Planner Dennis Slavin said public works officials want the bypass left as an option "if down the road the political climate is different."
County officials do not want to spend two or three years at a future time amending the land-use plan for Marina del Rey to add the bypass. "It's something they want to have the capability to build on the books," Slavin said.
As designed, the $30-million-plus roadway would carry the Marina Expressway across Lincoln Boulevard along the border between Admiralty Park and the Oxford Triangle to an intersection with Washington Boulevard in Venice.
In theory, the bypass would provide motorists with an alternative to the bottleneck at Lincoln and Washington boulevards, one of the most congested intersections in Los Angeles.
After the meeting, Supervising Regional Planner George Malone said in an interview that an argument can be made for building the bypass to improve "a major regional corridor" along Lincoln Boulevard that is "thoroughly bottled up."
Malone said "significant improvement" may be possible "for the price of acquiring by eminent domain . . . a band of housing" along the bypass route.
Such talk is certain to inflame passions in the Venice community.
Planners were already reconsidering the bypass issue last week after hearing criticism from the community and the marina lessees, who operate the marina's apartments, hotels, boat slips, restaurants, shops and offices on the county-owned marina property under long-term leases. "We are concerned about what the citizens had to say," Slavin said.
Ironically, the bypass controversy has stymied large-scale redevelopment of the marina for years. The present land-use plan, certified by the California Coastal Commission in 1984, required construction of the bypass before large-scale redevelopment of the marina could take place.
County planners are now considering a variety of different approaches for updating the plan.
By far the most ambitious plans for development have come from the marina lessees. They have submitted requests for 3,455 new residential units, enough restaurant space for another 3,727 customers, 872 new hotel rooms, plus more boat slips and office and retail space.
In addition, developer Maguire Thomas Partners wants the land-use plan amended to include an entirely new yacht harbor and waterfront community just south of the existing marina. The new marina would be the centerpiece of the massive Playa Vista development.
Planners said that ultimately, the magnitude of new development in the marina will be limited by the available traffic and sewage capacity.
In coming months, planners said, they hope to submit the revised land-use plan to the county's Regional Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors before seeking final approval from the Coastal Commission.