An increase in development of commercial property around Marina del Rey has county officials scrambling to find an alternative to a county and state Coastal Commission requirement that a road be built before development can occur in the marina.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has instructed Beaches and Harbors Director Ted Reed, whose department administers the marina, to meet with county planning officials to come up with proposed changes to the marina's master plan which would allow some new development without construction of the road.
Proponents of the road say it would alleviate congestion at the intersection of Washington and Lincoln boulevards. The road would carry traffic from Washington Street to the Marina Freeway. County officials want the road to go through an abandoned rail line in the residential Oxford Triangle, a Los Angeles city neighborhood that borders the marina to the north.
But Los Angeles City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, who represents the area, and some residents oppose construction of the road because of the additional traffic it would send into the neighborhood.
The road has been a bone of contention between the city and county for more than a decade. Marina del Rey is an unincorporated, county-controlled community surrounded by the City of Los Angeles.
Most of the pressure to find a solution that will allow for development in the marina comes from retailers and other business people in the marina who fear that the surge of development in nearby areas of the city--much of it in the form of modern, stylish shopping centers--threatens their ability to compete for customers.
County officials also would like to see development in the marina because the residential and commercial rents it generates are the county government's single largest source of revenue.
"I think we can demonstrate that conditions have changed considerably; that we ought to be able to do some development," Reed said.
No date has yet been set for the first meeting between county planners and Reed, but he added that the entire process may take two years.
Any changes to the plan would have to be approved by the Coastal Commission.
Look at Broader Picture
"My whole concern is that we have got to sit down and look at the broader picture, and not be quite as parochial as we were in the past," Reed said.
Marina developers have complained for years that they are being restrained unfairly. Because of the standoff, they contend, the road is not likely to ever be built.
Meanwhile, development around the marina is booming and marina developers fear they may not be able to compete in the future unless they are allowed to upgrade and expand existing facilities.
In nearby city neighborhoods, meanwhile, Marina Marketplace on Maxella and Glencoe avenues is nearing completion. There is talk of enclosing the Villa Marina mall across the street from Marina Marketplace. And development of Marina Place, a 1-million-square-foot mall planned for a sliver of Culver City that juts into Venice near the intersection of Washington and Lincoln boulevards, is still likely to proceed despite lawsuits filed against Culver City and the developers.
And after several years of uncertainty, the massive residential and commercial project, Playa Vista, appears to be headed for approval.
"Basic fairness dictates that we should be able to do some things here," Reed said. "If we are to compete successfully, if (leaseholders) are going to pay us lots of money, then they have to be able to develop where they can make a lot of money."
Reed also said that the new developments outside the marina are providing traffic improvements that may eliminate the need for the road.
He said the impact of the proposed light rail line through the marina needs to be studied, as well as new streets planned for Playa Vista.
"For there to be major redevelopment in the marina," he said, "there have to be significant changes in the Local Coastal Plan, including revising the bypass issue."
"From a practical standpoint, it is less likely that road will be built."