Permanent Marina Haven : Animal Sanctuary Plan Receives Mixed Reviews

Times Staff Writer

A county proposal to make a bird and animal sanctuary area a permanent part of a flood-control basin in Marina del Rey received mixed reviews at a public hearing this week.

Members and supporters of the Marina Sanctuary Inc., a nonprofit group of about 100 volunteers who care for the birds and small animals that have been abandoned in the Oxford Flood Control Basin, voiced support for the proposal at a public hearing Tuesday at the Burton Chace Park community building in Marina del Rey.

“I don’t see how we as people can want to get rid of something natural like this,” resident Sean Player said.

But some residents living near the site, also known as the Marina Bird Sanctuary, complained just as passionately about roosters crowing in the early morning, constant strong odors and the appropriateness of a bird and animal sanctuary in an urban residential area such as Marina del Rey.


“Los Angeles County officials have created the largest residential barnyard in America,” said Ed Noble, who lives on Oxford Avenue, which borders the sanctuary on the east.

County officials said birds and animals began collecting at the 10.5-acre flood-control basin 10 years ago when people started dumping ducklings, baby chicks and bunnies that parents gave their children for Christmas or Easter.

Volunteers started feeding and caring for the abandoned birds and animals in 1982. They said they have provided more than 300 pounds of food a day and have recently organized a neutering program for the rabbits, which have multiplied like, well, like rabbits over the years.

Burrows Pose Threat

Ted Reed, director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors, recently said he was notified by T. S. Tidemanson, director of the county Public Works Department, that burrows dug by rabbits in the basin posed a threat to the stability of a bike path along Oxford Avenue and to the slopes along the sides of the basin.

Reed said the proposal to make the northern portion of the flood basin along Washington Street a permanent animal-care area is a recommendation from an ad hoc committee composed of representatives from the county Animal Control Department, Marina Area Chamber of Commerce, Marina Library, Marina master leaseholders and the county Department of Beaches and Harbors.

The committee sought to design a land-use plan that would be compatible with the basin’s primary function of flood control.

The proposal also includes converting the eastern end of the basin along Oxford Avenue to a picnic and viewing area; the western portion near the Marina International Hotel into an open wetlands area, and the southern portion along Admiralty Way into a protected landscaped area.


The county Small Craft Harbor Commission will receive a summary of the public hearing, which was heard by representatives from the county Public Works Department, Animal Control Department, the Department of Beaches and Harbors and the Small Craft Harbor Commission.

Evenly Divided Group

About 90 people attended the meeting, with the group evenly split between those favoring and those opposing the sanctuary.

If the full commission accepts the proposal to include an animal-care area in the basin, a zone change would be needed, according to Larry Charness, a planner for the Department of Beaches and Harbors.


The commission is expected to discuss the matter at its December or January meeting.

The commission will hear from volunteers who have cared for the birds and animals and want the sanctuary to remain, and from residents who live near the site and want it removed.

“These small animals have a right to speak, too, so we speak for them,” said Dorothy Davis, a supporter of the animal sanctuary.

“I believe we can live in harmony with our fellow man, and with our fellow creatures,” said Ralph Lewis.


But many nearby residents said there can be no peace with the birds and animals.

“Unless they are going to breed a neuter rabbit or a rooster that doesn’t crow, the sanctuary should be eliminated,” said Douglas Newhouse.

“I love bunnies as much as anyone does, but there is a place for them and the place is not in the middle of a large city,” said Mildred Lent.