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Coastal Commission Postpones Hearing Marina Redevelopment Proposal

The panel will not consider a major redevelopment proposal in Marina del Rey during its June meeting due to staffing constraints and will probably hear it in October.

The California Coastal Commission has postponed consideration of a major redevelopment plan for Marina del Rey that was expected to be heard during a June public meeting in the marina. It will probably be considered in October, officials said Friday.

The state agency cited staffing constraints as the reason for the postponement, said Debbie Talbot, a spokeswoman for the county's Department of Beaches and Harbors.

The California Coastal Commission has final authority over coastal development and it was widely expected that it would consider the Marina del Rey Local Coastal Plan Major Amendment during its June meeting at the Marina del Rey Hotel. The major amendment is a long-term redevelopment and land-use plan that changes zoning rules in the marina to make way for several redevelopment projects in the aging marina.

"Their reasoning was due to the agency's staffing constraints," Talbot said Friday. "They didn't have enough staff to look at all those documents."

The commission likely will consider the matter during its October meeting that will be held in the Los Angeles/Orange County area at a yet to be determined location.

"We're disappointed that we couldn't present at the June meeting, but we understand the budget constraints on the commission," Talbot said.

The Department of Beaches and Harbors has been shepherding the changes to the Local Coastal Plan through a regulatory process that has been going on for roughly a decade.

The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission in December voted 3-1 in favor of the redevelopment plan. The planning department removed a project from consideration that would have reduced parking near Mother's Beach to make room for a three-building complex that would include 292 apartment units, 32,400-square-feet of retail space and 323 restaurant seats. The project had been decried by rowers who use the lot to park while they enjoy time on their kayaks, canoes and paddleboards.

In February, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously endorsed the major redevelopment plan despite protests from a busload of residents. Opponents of the redevelopment plans view the county's action as a gift to developers at the expense of county residents and claim it is against the mandate that the marina be preserved as a recreational destination for county residents.

The major amendment to the redevelopment plan would change zoning rules for four so-called Pipeline Projects that have been bundled together for consideration. They are:

1. A 400-unit apartment complex replacing a 136-unit complex and a 126-unit apartment complex on an existing public parking lot.
2. A 114-unit senior housing complex.
3. A dry-dock boat storage facility for 375 boats.
4. A proposed mixed use-facility that could include more than 116,000 square feet of commercial space, 255 residential units and a new 26,000-square-foot facility for the county's Department of Beaches and Harbor.

The proposed plan  has been criticized because it calls for a reduction of the overall number of boat spaces, or slips, to accommodate longer and wider boats. Critics claim the move favors the wealthy at the expense of boaters who can't afford larger craft, while county officials have produced reports pointing toward a trend of larger boats.

Marina del Rey is in unincorporated Los Angeles County and is overseen by the county's Department of Beaches and Harbors. Long-term lessees operate the housing units, boat slips and commercial venues in the marina, including restaurants and hotels.

The marina's lessees are taxed and generate about $38 million annually for the cash-strapped county. The money goes to the county's general fund to pay for such items as law enforcement and health care programs, but some of it also goes to the Department of Beaches and Harbors for beach projects and maintenance throughout the county.

graciela huth May 29, 2011 at 02:48 AM
I am very disappointed when I see the encroachment of developers in our communities. Westchester, Playa, Laguna, and Marina del Rey are the last open areas that reflect the good life in our region. Why don't we learn from Europe? Let's not destroy what makes these areas desirable. That is not progress, but naked greed. We value our green spaces with the ocean as a background. Why should we approve even more ugly big box commercial and residential developments? It will only leave us with fewer views of open space replaced with development walls. Most of the time, Lincoln boulevard is a traffic nightmare, and yet we plan to bring in hundreds of new residential units and block commercial developments? Please build these new structures in the blighted areas of Los Angeles that need the redevelopment. We are quite happy here. Our areas should be declared as historical landmarks. Our communities are places where the middle class created beautiful communities with parks and trees along our main boulevards. Do we want another Mar Vista monstrosity? Please, fight back. Say no to something that will forever alter the beauty and open space of this area.

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