County approves Marina del Rey Visioning Statement

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted the Marina del Rey Visioning Statement at its Oct. 28 meeting, the guiding document for development of the waterfront.

Supervisors swiftly approved the Visioning Statement after a few community members and public speakers expressed concern that the document would result in more residential and commercial development in Marina del Rey.

Not a specific plan, the Visioning Statement provides a possible roadmap of how Marina del Rey could look in 20 years. Key themes identified in the document include supporting boating and water-oriented activities, promoting environmental and sustainability goals and providing low-cost access to the waterfront, among other goals.

The ultimate goal for the Visioning Statement, according to county staff, is to make the waterfront enclave a more attractive destination.

One of the elements of the Visioning Statement is to organize Marina del Rey into four districts, one of which would be called “Boaters Way” and dedicated to boating-related businesses, services and uses.

“The general land use and urban design ideas for this area aim to realize a more boater-serving atmosphere with an emphasis on launching, storage, service/repair, charter boat operations, and parking to support [boating] uses,” as stated in the Visioning Statement.

Non-motorized boating activities, such as kayaking, could be enhanced as a result of the Visioning Statement. Infrastructure supporting such activities, such as parking, restrooms, rinse areas and storage, might be improved.

There are no plans to remove boat slips, according to the document.

Addressing the supervisors on behalf of the Boating Coalition, Jon Nahhas said Marina del Rey was originally created for boating and recreational uses. The Visioning Statement did not have enough input from boaters, Nahhas said.

“Only three boaters participated in a boater focus group,” Nahhas said. “The intent of the marina has drastically changed.”

Marina del Rey resident Dan Gottlieb worried boaters and residents could be paying higher rents to remain in the enclave if elements of the Visioning Statement were realized.

Tim Riley of the Marina del Rey Lessee’s Association told supervisors while his group still had some concerns about parking and safety issues, he felt the Visioning Statement included sufficient community input.

The handful of speakers who addressed supervisors on Oct. 28 echoed some of the comments and concerns about boating in Marina del Rey originally expressed during public meetings and through an interactive online town hall.

Including boating in the definition of Marina del Rey’s identity was a key theme at many focus groups and community meetings.

Throughout the public process, several stakeholders requested any future development in Marina del Rey balance the needs of small boats with other waterfront users. Those needs included having adequate launching areas, maintaining proper water safety and preserving strategic parking locations to allow access to hauling and dock launching.

Several boating amenities, such as additional dingy storage space and tie-up areas, more boater parking and enhanced boater destinations, could be shored up, according to input received by county officials.

County officials were also requested to create a hub for all boating activities, install transient slips at Fisherman’s Village, maintain access to the water, make sure existing recreational facilities and spaces do not deteriorate and “ensure recreational opportunities for youth.”

Mobility and accessibility were also key topics. Some wanted to see a year-round water taxi or waterbus service. Others believed channel entrance was isolated from the rest of the harbor.

According to county staff, participants of a June 2013 focus group identified boating as “critical to the Marina del Rey culture and economy.”

Some suggestions made at various focus groups included making boating facilities state of the art, fostering greater collaboration between recreational boaters and other interests and dedicating an area for fishing and live bait.

There was opposition to a proposal to move the boat launch to the harbor’s main channel. In response, county staff recommended the boat launch facility remain at its current location on Fiji Way.

The Visioning Statement was recommended by the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning in September for supervisorial approval.

According to Gina Natoli, a planner within the Department of Regional Planning, the Visioning Statement is a set of guidelines more than a rigid game plan and was the result of 18 months of public outreach and a process that began in April 2013 with a community meeting.

During the 18 months of meetings and public input, Natoli said county officials met face to face with more than 300 people and also reached out to people via emails and phone calls.

A market study was conducted for the entire waterfront enclave and determined Marina del Rey could support the addition of 206,000 square feet of retail development and between 610 and 940 new hotel rooms. Also according to the market study, any future office development in Marina del Rey “should be for less-traditional, creative space.”

Marina del Rey is 807 acres in size and an unincorporated area governed by the county. Home to about 9,000 residents, Marina del Rey is North America’s largest constructed small craft harbor.

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