Letter to the Editor: Do Boat Barns Bring ‘Factory Farm’ Concept to Boating?

Byline: Del Cooper

At both Dana Point Harbor and Marina del Rey, planners are talking about constructing large boat storage and launching facilities that are frequently referred to as “boat barns.”

The one being planned for Marina del Rey was depicted in a front-page illustration in the Feb. 17-March 1 issue of The Log Newspaper, and it is supposed to be 80 feet high when eventually constructed. It seems to look something like an office building on one side, and like an open rack (or a stack of steel-frame shoeboxes) on the other side.

There are several existing rack-type dry storage facilities for small boats up to around 35 feet in length, but none of them I’ve seen in Southern California approaches anything close to 80 feet in height. It seems to me that this new breed of boating facility could have a major impact on our waterfront views.

And if lots of these boat barns are built in harbors all over Southern California, to compensate for the loss of small-boat slips that are being transformed into higher-rent big-boat slips, they could change boating as we know it forever.

In the future, no longer will any of us keep our boats in the water. They will be stored in a five-deck or six-deck high-rise structure. If we want to go boating, we won’t have to putter around preparing our boat for the cruise. We’ll simply call someone, and a crane operator will pull the boat out of the rack, pop it into the water and prep it for us. “Convenience” is the goal, but convenience does cost money.

It’s sort of the “factory farm” concept — where farm animals no longer roam freely on farmland, but merely stand quietly inside steel buildings while they await their place on our dinner tables. The process takes up less valuable real estate, but there’s something that just doesn’t seem right about the whole thing.

I’ll be watching closely as the new boat barns go through the planning process, to see how this “brave new world” of boating facilities is actually going to work. I would suggest that other boaters do the same.

Del Cooper


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