Everybody I know in Venice who likes sailing, power boating or fishing takes for granted that the marina to our south gives us ready boat access.
Yet we’re about to lose it. Major changes are happening in Marina del Rey that will directly affect whether or not all of us can continue to boat out of the world’s largest recreational harbor.
In February, the amendment that will raise the housing and retail density in Marina del Rey, an attempt to turn the Marina into more of a cash cow than it is already for the county.
Last, year $38 million was pulled out of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors of which Marina del Rey was the biggest contributor. Debbie Talbot of the department told me that for fiscal year 2010 the accumulative capital outlay from the county back to the marina
The marina looks tired, like many of us when we reach middle age, but it’s time for rejuvenation not plastic surgery.
Boat slips are empty because the economy is slow. In more flush years, though, there were waiting lists.
Rather than recognize that the economy runs in cycles, the supervisors have decided to eliminate more than 800 slips for boats under 35 feet in length. Most of these slips are now used by active, fee-paying boaters. Culling these slips will limit access and drive up costs. The vast majority of skippers in the marina now have boats under 35 feet. They will see the demand for their slips soar.
If you ever boat south of the marina’s entrance you’ll see a lineup of boats anchored there, gypsies, some of whom are live-aboards. Expect their numbers to swell if the plan goes through. I’ve already seen a couple of sailboats broken on the beach there.
Even if you simply crew as a guest occasionally, help a friend in a regatta, savor a fishing trip, or rent a boat for a change of pace, the Board of Supervisors’ decision will affect how often you get to relax on the water, because there will be fewer boats.
Instead massive development will be built on the permanently filled in slips.
In House Document 389, part of the original proposal, Marina del Rey was described as “the small boat harbor at Playa del Rey inlet in Venice, California.” Its construction was publicly funded. Marina del Rey is owned by us, the citizens of Los Angeles County.
According to HD 389, “The plan considered is the best plan for making recreational harbor facilities in Santa Monica Bay available to the largest number of boat owners and potential owners in Southern California at the least cost."
The new proposal approved by the supervisors will do exactly the opposite.
We live in Venice in part because we love the ocean. Marina del Rey is our doorway to the seven seas. Although the local coastal plan changes are a constant topic of discussion south of Washington Boulevard, I have not heard it brought up in any conversation north of that dividing line.
We have one last shot at preserving some vestige of boating access for the middle class in Marina del Rey, because the members of the Coastal Commission have to give final approval to the plan. The L.A. supervisors hope to have it ready for them by June.