The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors hasn't been known as a forward-thinking and responsive group of elected officials. This week it did act with a responsiveness that we can only hope will surface more often.
The board voted unanimously to adopt a redevelopment plan for 800-acre Marina del Rey that will include competitive bidding for the lucrative leases to marina facilities. And for the first time, the supervisors also adopted safeguards to ensure that the financially strapped county receives a greater return from its ownership of the small-craft harbor.
But right up to the vote, the odds-on money was on a continuation of the cozy status quo: A small group of leaseholders--loyal and often generous contributors to each supervisor--sought extensions of 10 to 20 years on their marina leases even though most of the existing 60-year agreements do not begin to expire until 2020. While these developers--who in the 1960s built the harbor's privately owned apartments, boat slips, hotels, restaurants, shops and offices on prime public land--have profited handsomely on their investments, the public has realized an appallingly low return on its land holdings. The marina is the world's largest man-made small-craft harbor and perhaps the county's most valuable single resource. With this week's action, the supervisors have now adopted safeguards to ensure that the county finally receives a greater and more reasonable return for the taxpayers.