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Growth plans assailed

Marina del Rey residents are up in arms over county approval of high-rise projects that they say will ruin the area and block views.

January 21, 2007|Robert J. Lopez | Times Staff Writer

Bernard Lloyd gazed across the waterfront of his Marina del Rey neighborhood Saturday toward the site of a proposed 225-foot-high luxury hotel. He said he couldn't help but wonder whether the area was on the verge of becoming an over-developed concrete jungle choked with traffic at all hours.

More than two dozen projects have been built, are under construction or are winding their way through the permit process. They would add hundreds of residential and hotel units and thousands of vehicles to the already congested streets in and around Marina del Rey.

"If they put in all those buildings," Lloyd said, "it's going to be nonstop, bumper-to-bumper traffic all the time."

Lloyd and about 100 other residents packed a conference room Saturday on the marina waterfront to organize against what they said would turn their community into a condensed version of Manhattan.

Their sentiments echo a growing concern among residents on the Westside, where commercial and residential developments in the last decade have helped create unprecedented traffic problems from Century City to Westchester.

Among the worst stretches are Washington and Lincoln boulevards along the north and east sides of Marina del Rey, 800 acres of county land where a number of aging low-rise residential and commercial buildings ring a huge harbor dedicated in 1965.

The county estimates that rents and concessions from the marina bring in about $33 million in annual revenues. Officials have said that refurbishing the area could mean even more money for county coffers.

But at the community meeting Saturday, organizers told residents that Marina del Rey was originally developed primarily for public recreation. The county's latest development plan, they said, would turn it into a huge money-making venture for a few politically connected developers.

Nancy Marino said county officials were preparing to "pillage even more of our land for private development," allowing several high-rise structures to be built that would kill scenic vistas and block wind needed by sailors navigating the marina channel.

"As everything around us gets more and more congested, where are the people going to go for recreation?" asked Marino.

Activist Don Klein accused Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, who represents the area, of working with developers but ignoring the concerns of residents.

"The deck is stacked against us," said Klein, president of the Coalition to Save the Marina, which has filed several lawsuits in state court to stop some of the proposed projects.

Knabe spokesman David Sommers said the supervisor has always listened to the concerns of marina residents.

"We certainly are not cutting them out of the process in any way," Sommers said.

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robert.lopez@latimes.com

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