Mariners Bay Apartments redevelopment to feature upgraded marina

LOS ANGELES —About two weeks prior to Marina del Rey’s 50th anniversary, April 10, the county-governed enclave was approved for a partial makeover to maintain some modernity at the marina for the next decade or two.

At its March 24 meeting, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in favor of a lease to renovate Mariners Bay Apartments and Docks in Marina del Rey. Plans call for a renovation of 379 apartment units and the demolition and replacement of 369 boat slips.

Mariners Bay’s lease with Los Angeles County, which was set to expire Feb. 28, 2022, was extended to February 2061. County staff stated its percentage rent for the apartment units will increase at least 14.5 percent during the life of the extended lease and through 2061. Mariners Bay is not required to provide an affordable housing option to prospective tenants.

According to a county staff report, Mariners Bay is contractually required to spend at least $26.5 million to renovate the 379 existing apartment units, including interiors, façades and common areas.

Once work is completed in the apartment complex, Mariners Bay’s operators are required to invest at least $8.5 million to demolish and replace new docks surrounding the building. The developer must complete work on the new marina within three years.

The proposed Mariners Bay renovation project did meet with some opposition.

Jeanette Vosburg, who spoke at the March 24 meeting on behalf of the Sierra Club, said the proposed Mariners Bay renovation would make Marina del Rey more inaccessible.

“Marina del Rey was established for regular, ordinary people,” Vosburg said. “What is happening is that at Mariners Bay, if the revisions are done as stated … the rents will triple by 2019. That does not take care of what [Public Law] 780 said, which was to demand for rates that are reasonable with equal access to all. If rates triple, that’s not happening.”

Public Law 780, which was signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower, authorized construction of what ultimately became Marina del Rey. The law was drafted and approved to allow for the construction of harbors like Marina del Rey for navigational purposes.

A legal analysis conducted by the Office of County Counsel in 2010 stated Public Law 780 did not make any references to accessibility of Marina del Rey’s small craft harbor.

However, a set of provisions in House Document No. 389 did suggest equal access to harbor facilities.

The Office of County Counsel stated the public has relied upon a condition not included in the final adoption of House Document No. 389.

“The claim that the local assurances required by the federal participation in the funding of the small craft harbor at Marina del Rey included a condition to charge ‘reasonable’ prices is not correct,” the Office of County Counsel stated in its 2010 report. “However, the county does have controls over prices charged in Marina del Rey through its leases. The Board of Supervisors is the public body that regulates use and development of the small craft harbor … with no objection from the federal government.”

Los Angeles County was given operational and maintenance control by the federal government, the report continued.

“The local assurances required by the federal government clearly placed control over operation and maintenance of the ‘entire project’ in the county, except for the navigation aids, dredging and federally constructed harbor improvements,” the County Counsel report stated. “It is clear that the conditions recommended by [the federal government], and ultimately agreed to by the county do not contain the provision that services and facilities in Marina del Rey be provided ‘on terms reasonable and equal to all,’ rather the facilities are to be ‘open to all on equal terms.’

“The county has always interpreted this provision to mean that facilities must be available to all without discrimination,” the report continued.

Still, at least one boater was concerned about being priced out of the Marina del Rey market.

“I’ve been in that marina and everybody’s priced out. It’s not middle class, it’s the super rich marina,” Wayne Spindler, a boat owner and slip user in Marina del Rey told supervisors. “They’re going to tear these slips out. The affordable slips [will] disappear. It used to be a middle class marina [but] no more. The dream of having a boat and recreational boating is dead in this county.”

There are currently 379 apartment units, 369 boat slips and 18 end ties occupying 9.5 acres of land and 13.1 acres of water area.

As part of the approved lease, Mariners Bay must also pay California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife a filing and processing fee of $2,256.25 for its Mitigated Negative Declaration.

County supervisors initially approved Mariners Bay Apartments and Docks, which is located at 14000 Palawan Way, in 1978.

The March 24 supervisorial vote comes more than two months after Far West Management reportedly received a $36 million loan to renovate the Villa Del Mar apartment homes, a four-building residential complex with 196 units and 209 boat slips in Marina del Rey.

The management firm will reportedly use the loan money to completely gut and renovate the four buildings. Plans also call for new or upgraded bathrooms and laundry facilities for the boat docks, according to news reports.

In a separate vote one week later, county supervisors approved a lease amendment with Marina City Club in Marina del Rey. The lease amendment would allow the county to keep up with market conditions and readjust percentage rents it collects from the club for commercial uses.

Under the new terms, the county will collect 15 percent of dues and initiation fees collected by Marina City Club, plus 5 percent of retail sales. The rates are retroactive to July 30, 2013. Previously, the county collected 2 percent of retail sales and 6 percent of club dues and initiation fees.

The county will reportedly receive an additional $7,286 per year between 2013 and 2023 courtesy of the adjusted rent collection.

Marina City Club is home to 101 corporate apartment units and 278 boat slips in Basin E. The club is located at 4333 Admiralty Way, less than one mile away from Mariners Bay Apartments and Docks.

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