Marina del Rey is a breath of fresh air just south of Venice: The unincorporated community retains a touch of wildness with worn-in college huts and the occasional open patch of earth or shore.
But something about underdevelopment makes L.A. politicians very nervous. Just like in West Hollywood, where the WeHo City Council is slowly demolishing a star-studded smalltown vibe with fat stucco complexes and $3 million robotic parking garages, the L.A. County supervisors who oversee Marina del Rey feel it "just needs to be polished," in the words of supe Don Knabe.
Guess one man's rustic is another man's ghetto. And to an out-of-town supervisor, every inch of empty floor space is an opportunity for profit.
As for the rest of us -- or at least those unlucky enough to use Lincoln Boulevard at rush hour -- a slew of new Marina del Rey developments could make the commute into a whole new kind of nightmare.
Somehow, though, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors doesn't think so. To appease locals, they've conducted a traffic study to supplement their Local Coastal Program Amendment, which would change building rules in Marina del Rey to allow for the shiny new spring-ups.
(The California Coastal Commission, who must be consulted on any development near the state's coveted shoreline, will approve or reject the amendment in mid-June.)
The traffic study is long, complex and jargony, measuring car volume at peak hours and comparing that to past data to determine whether new shops, restaurants, hotels and homes would cause too much of a jam.
The verdict: Traffic? What traffic! The supes then propose a few lane re-adjustments to accomodate for the small additional buildup they do admit will probably occur.
Now, we don't have no expensive-arse study to back us up, but we do drive past the marina at least once a week. And if there's one thing we know about the stretch of Lincoln (and perpendicular Washington) in question, it's that BUMPER TO BUMPER is an understatement. It already takes about half an hour to travel half a mile at rush hour; there is no possible way that giving hundreds, if not thousands, more people a reason to be in the area won't make it into an absolute traffic hellhole.
A group of residents calling themselves We ARE Marina del Rey is likewise telling the county, "F your science," and trying to raise enough money to conduct its own, more realistic study in time for the Coastal Commission meetings on June 15, 16 and 17. (Donate here.) Like, one that might better represent the restless waves of utter rage we feel while sitting in the same spot on Lincoln for 10 minutes while the last sliver of sun fades behind the semi in front of us.
Here's the list of proposed developments that would be possible under the new amendment (scroll down for map), which the group predicts will attract 7,000 additional cars per day:
1. Oceana Retirement Facility next to Oxford Basin (Parcel OT)
114-unit luxury senior retirement facility on public parking lot OT for active seniors 60+. Will include limousine service, 3 meals/day.
2. The "Czucker Project" - Organic Panificio site (Parcels 33/NR)
3 5-story buildings, 292 apartments plus 32,000 square feet retail/ restaurants on public parking lot (Parcel NR) and the former Edies Diner/Harbor House/Organic Panificio lot. Project may include a Trader Joes or CVS.
3. Holiday Harbor Project to replace Marina Fitness/Mermaids Café (Parcel 21)
Holiday Harbor 5-story, 30,000 square foot commercial/gym complex with adjacent 5-story private parking structure on Panay Way.
4. Neptune Apartments at corner of Marquesas and Via Marina (Parcels 10/FF)
526 apartments in four, 4-story residential buildings. To replace public parking lot on parcel FF which is supposed to be developed into a park/green space for visitors and residents.
5. Woodfin Hotel & Timeshares/Wetland Park on vacant lot (Parcel 9U)
19 story, 288 room hotel (136 timeshare) plus 5-story 332-stall parking structure on the vacant parcel of land at Via Marina and Tahiti Way. Currently a wetland and foraging site for Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets.
6. High-End Shopping Center on Public boat launch ramp across from Waterside Shop Ctr (Parcels 49/77)
Mixed use development consisting of 135,000 square foot retail/commercial complex plus 26,000 square foot administration building plus 255 apartment units on the existing public parking, public boat launch ramp and dry storage lots.
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In all, 17 acres of open space and eight acres of recreational space would be eliminated. Welcome to the L.A. overdevelopment club, MDR. (Or, as the Los Angeles City Council likes to call it, elegant density.) What, you thought you could go on frolicking in your ocean views and strawberry fields forever? Psh.