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Fee Increases Drive Boaters Away From Marina del Rey, Group Says

Times Staff Writer

Recent boat slip fee increases have forced many boaters out of Marina del Rey and have produced higher vacancy rates among the more expensive slips, boat owners told the county Small Craft Harbor Commission last week.

Pioneer Skippers Boat Owners Assn. cited statistics at a commission meeting Wednesday. Boat owners and county officials have been at odds since January when the county lifted price controls on boat slip fees and anchorage operators were allowed to increase fees to rates the county found to be comparable with other nearby anchorages.

The marina’s highest vacancy rate on May 1 was at Aggie-Cal anchorage, which has the highest slip fees in the marina with prices ranging up to $12 a foot, according to statistician and boat owner Gerald Winston, who prepared Pioneer Skippers’ report to the commission. The May 1 vacancy rate among 103 slips at Aggie-Cal was 11.5%, Winston said.

No Vacancies

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By contrast, he said, four anchorages with Marina del Rey’s lowest fees, averaging $7.77 a foot, had virtually no vacancies. An average vacancy of less than one-fifth of 1% was found among 653 slips in the Holiday, Catalina, Tradewinds and Santa Monica Yacht Club anchorages, he said.

Commissioners said boat slip vacancies probably will force landlords to decrease prices, but boat owners said that concessions will come too late for those who have already had to move out.

Commission Chairman David Boran said the economic principle of supply and demand will come into play in determining prices.

Commissioner Herbert J. Strickstein said some boat owners who moved out as a protest against recent fee increases may cool off and return to Marina del Rey.

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When the commissioners decided to defer action, boat owner Winston retorted, “It’s like telling a person who is being strangled that he should just wait a while for relief.”

Survey Questioned

Members of Pioneer Skippers repeatedly have questioned the county’s January survey, which found rates at Marina del Rey to be comparable because they fall within the range of rates charged at other Southern California marinas within a 60-mile radius.

Pioneer Skippers’ criticisms prompted the county to authorize an independent review of the January survey by an outside consultant, Kenneth Leventhal & Co. of Century City.

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The study by the certified public accounting firm found that prices range between $5 and $13.53 a foot at 31 Southern California anchorages, compared to the county survey showing a price range of $6 and $13.98 a foot at 25 anchorages.

The county is reviewing differences between the two surveys, staff members told the commission.

Meanwhile, Ted Reed, director of the Small Craft Harbor Commission, announced that he has obtained agreement among Marina del Rey’s anchorage operators to limit the frequency of boat slip fee increases to once a year.

All of the marina’s anchorages have instituted price increases since price controls were lifted Jan. 1, and now that these new rates are in place, boat slip fees are expected to remain stable for the rest of the year, Reed told the commission.

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In response to requests by Pioneer Skippers, the department has agreed to provide monthly updates on boat slip fees and vacancy rates among the marina’s 5,265 boat slips. The vacancy rate among slips marina-wide on May 1 was 3.3%, the department reported.


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