Land-use issues stir up our readers nearly as much as stories about legalizing marijuana. With the latter shelved until the 2012 elections, last week we turned to two maddening examples of developers and city planners trumping community interests.
The first was about plans to add a hotel, luxury apartments, office buildings and ... you get the picture ... in Marina del Rey ("Shore Lovers' Last Stand at Mother's Beach," by Martin Berg, Nov. 19). It is the latest round in a decades-long struggle between the marina's rising density and its original purpose, which was to create a publicly funded harbor open to people of any income level. At issue this time was Mother's Beach, popular with rowers and others.
Reader Peter Hein comments that while the "loss of Mother's Beach would be a setback to rowing and paddling, it's the rowing and paddling clubs that have to take the blame for not planning ahead. Every nonprofit has to organize and fund-raise for program and facilities enhancement. The rowing and paddling clubs have not taken this initiative despite a shelved proposal to build a community boathouse at the old Sea Scout base in Marina del Rey."
To which Timothy O'Brien adds: "What this article should have focused on is that the folks in MDR are upset that they may lose something they use for free. Instead of relying on the rest of the county taxpayers to support their hobby, I think it's time that the rowing interests in MDR raise the funds necessary to develop a facility. It would certainly be a great amenity for the marina."
In other words, paddlers, free access is out. Quit whining. Open your wallets.
As Kevin Maloney writes: "Mr. Hein, and especially Mr. O'Brien, miss the point. Clubs protecting their own interest at the marina are also protecting the public's interest. The real issue is the hijacking of the marina from the taxpayers. County taxpayers own the marina, and you're saying they should get out of their own way, and just give the marina away?"
L.A.'s LAND-USE GRAB
We can't bring ourselves to use the soporific term "Community Plan Implementation Overlay" more than once. Henceforth, we'll call it Kenny G.
The Weekly's Steven Leigh Morris wrote that the Los Angeles Planning Department and the City Council are pushing through a citywide ordinance — Kenny G — that will allow city planners to sidestep the 35 community plans that exist across the city giving neighborhoods a say in their growth ("L.A. May Say Good-bye to EIRs and Public Notice," Nov. 19).
Reader Scott Zwartz responds: "This is similar to the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, paving the way for a tiny fraction of the uber-wealthy to make mega-fortunes through fraudulent security transactions throwing the nation into the worst recession since 1929. (Kenny G) and the other changes allow developers to build wherever they wish and whatever they wish.
"People can fight back. L.A. Clean Sweep is one forum [with] great promise to throw out the crooks in 2011."
Someone identifying himself as "lacitizen" does not agree: "The city has been holding meetings, with public comment periods, on this ordinance for two years. It's silly to talk about the community members who show up to the meetings to complain that they weren't notified. The writer doesn't approve of the ordinance, and there's some support here for a fact-based case against the changes being made — that's fair. But the rest of the article is way off base, ascribing evil motives to city employees and departments."
Yes, the public has had a chance to comment. But the story described how the city was rolling out the plan piecemeal, making it impossible for citizens to know the overall impact. As reader Gwennie comments:
"I think the point of the story is that major changes are taking place in terms of the planning code and most people have no idea how drastically land usage is changing in the city of L.A."
The last word goes to Dick Platkin: "If we read between the lines of the Council action, (Kenny Gs) will not become a tool to implement Community Plans. Instead these (Kenny Gs) will be adopted in lieu of new or updated Community Plans. Since these updated plans would be implemented by complex ordinances increasing density, the same end can be achieved by a (Kenny G), but without the time and treasure required for a new or updated Community Plan."
Editor's note: Brad Rosenheim was misidentified in the story as a land-use attorney and consultant. He is a consultant, but not an attorney.
JONATHAN GOLD ON PUCK'S WP24
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Our food critic gave Wolfgang Puck's new Chinese restaurant, WP24, a mixed review ("Look, Up in the Sky!," Nov. 19). Jay Weston complained that the review was off-base: "I have been reviewing restaurants including ethnic Chinese for 50 years, and the three dinners I had here are among the best I have ever had, including those in Hong Kong and Shanghai ... exquisite flavors, perfect presentation, all was ethereal ... anyone reading him must go for themselves."
OK, Jay. You buying?
IF YOU WRITE ...
We will read. In letters, comments, from your BlackBerry. Full names and contact info get a gold star. firstname.lastname@example.org.