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History of Marina- Argonaut series
« on: August 30, 2010, 03:48PM »
Looking back at how Marina del Rey was created
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/04/01/columns/helga_gendell/h.txt
BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 4:50 PM PDT)

Given all of the discussions regarding Marina del Rey’s purpose as a small craft harbor for boating and recreation, The Argonaut has decided to look at an historical analysis of the Marina to inform the public how, when and for what purpose the Marina was created, as well as identify the individuals involved in the process.

This is Part I of the history of Marina del Rey.

All of the following historical information is cited from “The Urban Marina: Managing and Developing Marina del Rey,” by Marsha V. Rood and Robert Warren of the Center for Urban Affairs Sea Grant Program and published by USC.

In 1887 M.C. Wicks, a real estate speculator, invested $300,000 to develop the Playa del Rey estuary into a major commercial harbor, but he went bankrupt three years later.

At the turn of the century, Abbot Kinney, the cigarette millionaire who later developed Venice of America with an extensive system of canals immediately north of Playa del Rey, was the most active supporter of a harbor at the inlet.

Kinney modeled his development, which was founded in 1905, after Venice, Italy. The area was subject to periodic flooding which Kinney believed could be prevented by construction of a harbor in the low-lying marsh lands extending from Venice on the north to the Del Rey Hills on the south.

Kinney and his engineer were the only participants at a US Corps of Engineers hearing in 1916 on local improvements to present arguments for a commercial harbor at the site. (At that time, Corps authority was limited to commercial harbor improvements).

Kinney’s testimony emphasized that a harbor at Playa del Rey Inlet would provide greater protection for fishing and commercial small craft than Los Angeles Harbor and it was closer to downtown Los Angeles than the existing harbor. No federal action was taken.

The concept of a harbor at the inlet wasn’t revived until the 1930s, when in a 1932 amendment to the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1902, Congress expanded the term “commerce” to include “�the use of waterways by seasonal passenger craft, yachts, houseboats, fishing boats, motor boats and other similar water craft whether or not operated for hire�”

This expanded definition of commerce, combined with a natural disaster in 1933, the flooding of Ballona Creek, stirred local interest.

Members of the Venice Commercial Board and the Bay Cities Property Owners and Boaters Pledge League wrote to Congressman John Dockweiler advocating harbor improvements to the creek to prevent future flooding.

Subsequently, Dockweiler introduced a bill to establish a harbor at Playa del Rey Inlet.

Sen. Hiram Johnson later supported the bill and, as a result, the Senate Commerce Committee ordered a hearing to investigate whether improvements were warranted.

The hearing was held in Venice by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles district office in July 1936, with 123 people attending, largely representing realtors, commercial interests, chambers of commerce and boat owners.

The hearing officer reiterated the requirement that the proposed improvement should provide national as well as local benefits.

Accordingly, representatives from the Venice Commercial Board, Culver City, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, and other organizations all stressed the importance of the harbor for jobs, flood control, and recreation, as well as the future significance of the harbor to national defense.

Dockweiler addressed this latter point in his testimony at the hearing, where he cited recent naval reports of Japanese fishing vessels that had been spotted off the coasts of Hawaii and California.

In view of these circumstances, he suggested that the small private crafts be viewed as naval militia that could be dispersed at facilities up and down the coast, not just at Los Angeles Harbor.

Taggart Aston, engineering consultant to the Culver City Chamber of Commerce, Harbor and Defense Committee, made the only specific proposal concerning a recreational harbor at Playa del Rey Inlet.

He asked the Corps to consider constructing an outer breakwater harbor at Venice and two 40-acre yacht and small boat basins off Ballona Creek near Culver City at a total cost of $1,412,000.

Aston’s proposal also designated the south side of Ballona Creek for a park and residential area with industry to be developed on the north side.

Aston noted that it was an “ideal site” for the Pan-American Transoceanic Terminal, a proposed hydroplane terminal base for the United States.

From the comments made concerning the proposal, it appeared that the Los Angeles city, county and federal officials agreed with Aston’s basic idea for a recreational harbor and park at Playa del Rey Inlet.

Representative Leland Ford of the 16th Congressional District stated that it seemed to be a “natural spot” for a harbor and that the inclusion of a park could make it into a “�miniature Golden Gate Park for the people of Los Angeles County�”.

J.A. Mellen of the Regional Planning Commission reported that the commission was “highly in favor” of all possible recreational and commercial facilities in the area.

Lindsay Dickey of the Los Angeles City Playground Commission stated that an outdoor swimming pool was needed in the project because the Venice area lacked adequate recreational facilities.

Only one person objected to a harbor development in the area. Mrs. Edwin S. Fuller, conservation director of the National Audubon Society in Inglewood, claimed that 40 or 50 acres were needed at Playa del Rey Inlet for the 73 species of birds in the area.

She objected to the harbor because the associated industrial uses would drive out birds inhabiting the north side of the inlet.

Environmental issues, however, were not among those the Corps was authorized to consider.

The hearing officer made this quite clear when he asked that no further testimony of this kind be submitted, noting, “We are concerned primarily with navigation and flood control�so I would like to ask you to confine your remarks in the hearing as to what bearing this proposed work has on navigation, flood control, commerce and allied subjects of that kind�.

“So in order to save time, I would like to ask that those subjects not be brought up, and certainly not at any length, merely because we are not permitted, by the law, to take them into account. We can simply make a recommendation on this project based on its effect on navigation and commerce and national defense and flood control and allied subjects.”

Looking back at how Marina del Rey was created — Part II; actions taken after a 1936 hearing
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/04/08/columns/helga_gendell/h.txt
BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, April 7, 2010 3:33 PM PDT)

Part II of the history of Marina del Rey covers actions taken after the 1936 hearing of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with 123 people attending, representing realtors, commercial interests, chambers of commerce, boat owners and one individual concerned about environmental issues.

All of the following historical information is cited from “The Urban Marina: Managing and Developing Marina del Rey,” by Marsha V. Rood and Robert Warren of the Center for Urban Affairs Sea Grant Program and published by USC.

Following the 1936 hearing, Congress approved a preliminary survey for Playa del Rey Inlet. Because information necessary for U.S. Army Corps requirements was unavailable, the Corps asked that local groups submit information on the following questions:

The character, location and established cost of improvements desired;

The value of water-borne commerce and traffic, and size of the craft that the improvement would serve;

The justification for the expenditure entailed, based upon increased traffic and commerce to result, and the value of benefits to accrue;

The necessity for such improvements, with special reference to the requirements of navigation;

The area to be served by the desired improvements; and

The interests to be benefited by the improvements; and the cooperation and/or contribution on what the United States might expect of local interests toward the cost of the desired improvements or in the construction of complimentary works at local expense.

In April 1937, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, at the request of the Culver City Chamber of Commerce and others, assumed responsibility for providing information to the Corps.

The supervisors requested the county Regional Planning Commission to study the economic feasibility of a recreational harbor in collaboration with engineering consultant George Nicholson.

The report, titled “Marina del Rey,” was completed in June 1938. In addition to the economic aspects of the project, the document made a “�. full examination of all aspects of the problem, which sound planning principles require and examined them in relation to comprehensive plans for the physical development of the county as a whole.”

The “Marina del Rey” report emphasized that the harbor would service the recreational needs of an already large and increasing number of boaters in the area.

In preparing the report, the Regional Planning Commission conducted a survey, which revealed that 40 percent of the boats in the area were 15 feet to 20 feet in length; 41.6 percent were between 20 feet and 35 feet long; and less than one percent of the total was yachts (length in excess of 100 feet).

On this basis, the report concluded that “�. these boats form a recreational outlet for a great many of the middle class.”

The commission also justified a harbor at Playa del Rey Inlet in terms of the increased ownership of small pleasure craft, the widespread economic benefit through increased permanent employment and business volume, and the rise in property taxes in the area.

Prior to the report there had been no local agreement about the magnitude of the facility or its design characteristics. Therefore, the Regional Planning Commission’s proposals were considered tentative for purposes of the study.

The preliminary design plan that the commission finally submitted had an estimated cost of $9.75 million.

By reference to a map titled “Marina del Rey,” �an entrance was provided through the mouth of Ballona Creek into a large sailing lagoon (435 acres) which would have created ample space for boat maneuvers as well as an area for small craft recreation.

Around the main lagoon, a series of smaller lagoons enclosed the mooring slips, providing a total water area (including entrance channels) of 646 acres for approximately 5,200 moored boats.

The county was acting without the benefit of any serious previous discussion about financing the project. Consequently, in exploring local funding sources, the report examined those sections of the local California Harbors and Navigation Code enacted in 1937 that authorized the establishment of Recreational Harbor Districts.

Such districts required, among other things:

The filing of a petition by 50 or more property holders who are registered, qualified electors within the district, stating facts concerning the proposed harbor;

A report from the chief of the Division of State Lands approving, or disapproving, the location of the proposed recreational harbor; this report if favorable, to be later approved, or disapproved by the government;

Further investigation by the Board of Supervisors, followed by a resolution establishing exterior boundaries of the district; after hearings, the filing of an assessment map, and the calling of an election;

A majority vote “for the harbor district,” after which the district is formed, a board of later governors is appointed, with powers and duties appropriate to the purpose, including the power to acquire land, not only for the harbor itself, but for bathing, park use, or access; and

All bonds issued payable as follows: A part, not less than one-40th of the whole indebtedness, shall be paid each and every year on a fixed date, together with interest on sum unpaid at such a date.

The last provision made it inevitable that during the construction period and the first few years thereafter, a sum would have to be collected by a property tax upon the district as a whole.

To justify the tax burden for those who were not involved in recreational boating, the intangible benefits of a large park for many recreational purposes became a major theme of the report.

Since no large regional park served this area as the northeast section of the city was served by Griffith Park, there was reasonable justification for this concern.

The report stated, “Any plan for a yacht harbor in this vicinity should be of a character and scope sufficient to provide at the same time for land activities, as well as aquatic.”

The design plans, which are the basis of the economic studies in this report, are consequently comprehensive in character and call for a development of major importance and value to the citizens of the entire county, whether they are interested in boating as a sport, or not.

This report therefore deals with a regional park development, providing for a great variety of year-round activities.

In order to make the Marina a recreational asset for the general public as well as boat owners, the report advised that all of the areas between Pacific Coast Highway and the ocean should be treated as a regional park. Bathing beaches, pools for children’s sports, playfields, picnic grounds, and landscaped areas were all designated on the design plan.

The exact number of acres for land and/or the project as a whole was not specified. The report suggested that an administration building, a post office, a branch library, a chamber of commerce office, and a marine museum and aquarium might also be included.

The plan also contemplated that the county would acquire areas outside the harbor limits for marine-related industrial and business uses such as boat yards, gasoline stations, yacht clubs, charter boats and marine supplies.

On this basis, the report pointed out that it was “erroneous to assume that the initial cost per boat was excessive or that the harbor would serve only those who owned boats; the boat owners, through mooring fees and other sources, will actually contribute more than is expended on the facilities they use, leaving the general recreational facilities (bathing, picnicking, athletics, model boat racing) and the increase in assessed values and attractiveness of the county to its citizens and to visitors, as a net gain to the public.”
« Last Edit: May 16, 2014, 09:03PM by cho »
A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are for.

cho

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History of Marina- Argonaut series#2
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2010, 04:14PM »
Part III: Looking back at how the Marina was created
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/04/15/columns/helga_gendell/h.txt
BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 2:58 PM PDT)

Part III of the history of Marina del Rey covers actions taken after Los Angeles County supervisors requested that the Regional Planning Commission conduct a study to determine the economic feasibility of a recreational harbor.

All of the following historical information is cited from “The Urban Marina: Managing and Developing Marina del Rey,” by Marsha V. Rood and Robert Warren of the Center for Urban Affairs Sea Grant Program and published by USC.

A letter from Robert T. Stevens, secretary of the Department of the Army to the speaker of the House of Representatives, dated August 8th, 1952, included a report from the Department of the Army, chief of Engineers [Lt. Gen. Lewis A. Pick].

Stevens said the preliminary examination and survey of the harbor at Playa del Rey and a review of reports on the Playa del Rey Inlet and Basin near Venice was intended to determine whether any improvement of the location was warranted at the time as authorized by the River and Harbor Act approved on August 26th, 1937, and requested by a resolution of the Committee on Commerce, United States Senate, adopted on June 2nd, 1936.”

“The Bureau of the Budget advises that while there is no objection to submission of the report to Congress, authorization of the improvement recommended herein would not be in accord with the program of the President [Eisenhower] unless the federal participation is limited to 50 percent of the cost of the generational navigation facilities,” stated Stevens’ letter.

In response to Stevens’ letter, Donald Belcher, assistant director of the Bureau of the Budget, Executive Office of the President, wrote back saying, “The Chief of Engineers [Pick] considers the proposed federal participation in the project appropriate ‘if it is the intent of Congress to provide federal assistance in the development of recreational boating facilities of the type proposed in this report.’”

Pick’s report included several points such as “relocation of the oil wells, construction of public facilities, providing adequate berthing and other facilities for small craft, and establishing a public body to regulate the use and development of the harbor facilities which shall be open to all on equal terms.” According to the report, “the proposed improvements are designed to meet recreational boating needs and are not significant from the standpoint of commercial navigation.”

Belcher pointed out that in his 1955 budget message, President Eisenhower had stated, “To the greatest extent possible, the responsibility for resource development, and its cost, should be borne by those who receive the benefits.”

Belcher said that the benefits of the Playa del Rey Harbor would be largely local, but would make no contribution to the cost of the general navigation features of the project.

He said that the federal share of the costs of all recreational harbors should be limited to no more than 50 percent of the first cost of providing general navigation facilities, which in the case of Playa del Rey appeared to include the jetties, entrance channel, interior channel and central basin.

After congressional authorization of the project, development of Marina del Rey was a priority for the county in financial, planning and administrative terms, and on September 23rd, 1954, the county created the Department of Marinas and Harbors, subject to the authority of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Although these powers were quite broad, the new department’s initial role was primarily one of assisting private consultants in developing the Marina.

As local sponsor of the project, the county would assume responsibility for three-fourths of the cost. Consequently, the Board of Supervisors authorized a study of the project’s economic feasibility and available financing methods.

Funding the Marina through general obligation bonds would have required that the bond issue be approved by a two-thirds vote of the electorate. Revenue bonds, on the other hand, needed the approval of only a majority and did not obligate the county’s general fund. A specified amount of revenue from the Marina’s operation would be designated for their redemption.

In March 1955, the Board of Supervisors hired George Nicholson and Company to “prepare a schematic plan for the facility and to conduct an economic feasibility study.”

Nicholson’s firm, along with the assistance of the Department of Marinas and Harbors, “was directed to reduce the Marina’s total cost and to increase the amount of land available for revenue-producing activities.”

In March 1956, Nicholson’s report stated that the project was economically feasible and provided the general rationale for undertaking it. The report included:

The 1955 population estimate of five million on the Southern California coast, and projections of future population growth;

The shortage of anchorages in the area, Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Newport harbors being the only existing facilities for small craft;

The inadequate arrangement for small craft at the predominantly commercial Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors;

The high cost of transportation to Newport Harbor;

An expanded demand for mooring space due to increases in population and boat ownership; and

The constraint of boat ownership in the area due to limited mooring space.

Nicholson’s report found “that the anticipated increases in annual tax returns from the Marina’s operation would justify the county’s spending $12.6 million for site acquisition and approximately $9.6 million for construction. Nicholson concluded that the possible future revenues justified a “rapid and bold program of acquisition and construction at the earliest possible date.”

Nicholson’s report also included a new physical design for the harbor, “Alternative Schematic Plan No. 2,” which had been adopted by the Board of Supervisors on February 21st, 1956. The revised plan altered the shape of the harbor, discarding the sailing lagoon (elliptical basin) for a straight main channel with seven moles.

The new design addressed the Marina’s cost problem in two ways; it decreased the total area from 1,170 acres to 918 and increased the amount of land from 453 acres to 508.

This had the effect of making more revenue-producing land available while actually lowering the site acquisition costs, the report stated.

As its first action, the county began acquiring rights-of-way for the project and designated $1,373,074 for initiation of the proposed project. The US Army Corps of Engineers, however, made further changes in the design

when it formally approved the agreement.

In its “Design Memorandum No. 1, General Design for Playa del Rey Inlet and Harbor, Venice, California,” dated November 1956, the Corps further reduced the total acreage for the proposed harbor from 918 acres to 824 acres.

The amount of water acreage, however, was increased from 410 to 451 and the amount of land acreage was reduced from 508 to 373. As can be seen from a comparison of maps, the major land reduction was in the area bounded by Lincoln Boulevard, Basin H and the Ballona Creek Flood Control Channel.

The Corps’ plan called for 6,200 mooring slips and provisions for 2,000 trailer-mounted craft. This was a greater number of slips per water acre than its previously approved plan for 8,000 slips utilizing 717 acres of water.

The design eliminated the sailing lagoon that precluded the use of the Marina by small boats seeking protected waters and/or recreational areas.

This authorized redesign officially changed the basic character of the Marina from a traditional recreational harbor to a berthing facility whose waters would be used primarily for entrance and exit by larger recreational craft.

The initial decision of the county to eliminate the sailing lagoon and the actions of the Corps in making official design changes took place without public hearings.

There was an increase in the proposed local share of almost $4 million and a reduction in federal involvement of almost $3 million between 1954 and 1958 because of final modifications in design involving dredging, realignment of roads and adjustment of beach lines.

The county proposed to meet its obligation by a resolution submitted to the electorate on November 6th, 1956, calling for the issuance of $13 million in revenue bonds to finance small boat harbor improvements and facilities for the public’s convenience.

The voters approved the measure by a two-to-one margin. In addition to the bonds, the Board of Supervisors allocated $15 million from the county general fund for land purchases and borrowed $2 million from the State of California to provide its share of Marina funding.

On November 18th, 1958, a deed for “Perpetual Right-of-Way and Easement” between the County of Los Angeles and the United States of America was signed by Burton W. Chace, chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Land for the Marina was acquired between 1957 and 1959, primarily from private parties through condemnation or negotiated sales.

All but a small portion of the area was located in unincorporated territory under the direct jurisdiction of the county.

Several uninhabited parcels of land included in the project were owned by the county, but were within the City of Los Angeles. By agreement, these sections were disincorporated from the city in December 1960.

Looking back at how the Marina was created: Part IV
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/04/22/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt
BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 3:28 PM PDT)

Part IV of the Marina del Rey history covers actions taken after several uninhabited parcels owned by Los Angeles County but located in the City of Los Angeles were disincorporated from the city in December 1960.

Marina del Rey had become an authorized federal project under the Omnibus Bill, Public Law 780 (signed by President Eisenhower in 1954) — that stated, “Playa del Rey Inlet and Harbor, Venice, California: House document 389, 83rd Congress: Provided, that federal participation in the provision of entrance jetties, entrance channel, interior channel and central basin recommended in the project report and presently estimated to cost $7,738,000 shall not exceed 50 per centum of the cost thereof.”

In a preliminary examination and survey of the area years earlier, Lt. Gen. Lewis Pick, chief of engineers for the Department of the Army, said, “The proportion of federal and non-federal participation recommended by the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors is considered appropriate if it is the intent of Congress to provide federal assistance in the development of recreational boating facilities of the type proposed in the report.”

The report also stated, “The proposed improvements are designed to meet recreational boating needs and are not significant from the standpoint of commercial navigation.”

According to Pick, local interests consider that the proposed harbor would be an integral unit of an adopted general plan for development of the Santa Monica shoreline.

“The plan includes widening and improving beaches, providing adequate bath houses, parking areas, picnic facilities, special recreation centers, bathing and wading beaches, fishing piers, youth organization camps, tourist parks with cabin and trailer accommodations, and a bird refuge; and

“Provide without cost to the U.S. all necessary slips and slip facilities and facilities for the repair, service, and supply of small craft on terms reasonable and equal to all; and secure and hold for public interest lands bordering on the proposed improvement to a depth sufficient for the proper functioning of the harbor.”

In subsequent discussions between Pick and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it was stated that local interests had requested provision by the U.S. of a harbor for small craft as part of a comprehensive plan for park and beach development including recreational boating facilities, emphasizing the need for adequate facilities for small craft in the Santa Monica Bay area and nearby districts.

In these communications, it was stated that the district engineer found a need for additional harbor facilities for small craft in Southern California, particularly in the Santa Monica Bay area.

Pick estimated that, on the basis of the California average of 2.79 boats per 1,000 population, the immediate tributary area would sustain about 6,500 small craft, and on the basis of the Los Angeles average of 1.6 boats per 1,000 population, the remaining tributary area would sustain an additional 960 craft.

“The Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors concurs in the views of the reporting officers that a need exists for a harbor with an ultimate capacity of 8,000 small craft in the vicinity of Playa del Rey.”

“The plan recommended by the district engineer together with work to be performed by local interests will provide a suitable improvement. Total benefits are sufficient to justify the expenditure required,” said the Board of Engineers.

“The board believes that in addition to the evaluated benefits resulting directly from construction of the small boat harbor, benefits would accrue to local interests from the use of the area as a park facility.

“It can be expected that the area will be visited and enjoyed by many persons in no way connected with small boat commerce.”

The construction of Marina del Rey for the purpose of recreational small craft boating later ran headlong into financial expectations and difficulties when the Marina’s inability to attract investors created considerable fear about not meeting a $13 million revenue bond obligation.

According to “The Urban Marina: Managing and Developing Marina del Rey,” the county proposed to meet its obligations by a resolution submitted to the electorate on November 6th, 1956, calling for the issuance of the revenue bond obligation to finance small boat harbor improvements and facilities for the public’s convenience.

The voters approved the measure by a two-to-one margin. In addition to the bonds, the Board of Supervisors allocated $15 million from the county general fund for land purchases and borrowed $2 million from the State of California to provide its share of Marina funding.

The county lobbied the California Legislature’s 1958 session to change a law that placed a ten-year limit on granting concessions in projects financed in whole or in part by revenue bonds.

The county expected that the ability to enter into longer-term lease agreements would increase the marketability of the bonds as well as allow their sale at a lower rate of interest. The legislature was responsive and amended the law to permit leases of up to 60 years, after which leasehold facilities reverted to the county.

Since the bond obligations were to be met by rents from concessions in the Marina, the profitability and stability of potential uses became of major concern in the economic feasibility study conducted by county consultant Coverdale and Colpitts.

In the consultant’s study, the firm inspected 60 marinas and yacht clubs along the Pacific coast, the Great Lakes and the Florida coast. The most successful marinas were developed in proximity to heavily populated urban areas.

This finding was used as a basic factor in justifying the suitability of the Los Angeles area for supporting a marina.

The firm also gathered data on ship chandlers, ship brokers, small boat repair yards, clubs, marina fuel stations, launching areas for small boats, cabanas and trailer-cabanas.

Subsequently, Coverdale and Colpitts recommended that all these facilities be included in the Marina. The firm did not consider residential developments as a potential use in the project.

After the Corps of Engineers completed the engineering work on the Marina channel and the procedures for issuing revenue bonds were established, the main focus of county activities became site leasing.

Once underway, the pattern of events produced several changes in the formal organization for managing the Marina.

In December 1959, the Board of Supervisors appointed Victor Gruen Associates to develop a land use plan for the Marina that could be used as a guide for soliciting and evaluating lease bids.

Gruen submitted a “Development Plan for Marina del Rey Small Craft Harbor” the following May and revised it in September 1960 to respond to the reactions of the investment community.

Gruen developed the plan to allocate revenue-producing uses recommended by Coverdale and Colpitts. One major addition was the option of building apartments on some parcels.

The document detailed the parceling of the land and related the uses to one another with respect to circulation and density.

Gruen’s work was conducted independently of the Department of Small Craft Harbors although the department did provide support and assistance (in May 1959, the department name was changed from Department of Harbors and Marinas to Department of Small Craft Harbors).

As in the case of Coverdale and Colpitts, a primary goal in the Gruen design was to enhance and protect the revenue-producing capability of the Marina, and thus the county’s ability to meet its debt obligation.

The appointment of a Marina harbor controller and a property manager was the next step in the process. They assumed the responsibility for writing leases based on the Gruen land use plan and issuing lease bids in response to current market demand.

All three consultants for the Marina — George Nicholson, Coverdale and Colpitts and Gruen Associates — had recommended that aesthetic standards and landscape quality be maintained by a review and approval process for any structures to be built.

On February 23rd, 1960, the Board of Supervisors adopted an order appointing a Design Control Board (DCB) “to assure conformity on the part of successful bidders who may construct improvements within the Small Craft Harbor.”

The Design Control Board was formed as an autonomous body whose decisions could only be reviewed by the Board of Supervisors and whose membership consisted of two architects and one businessman.

To establish basic design and construction criteria for the lessees, the supervisors approved and adopted the Marina del Rey “Specifications and Minimum Standards of Architectural Treatment and Construction” on January 3rd, 1961.

The Marina del Rey lease form binds lessees to accept these architectural standards (and amendments) and to acknowledge the authority of the Design Control Board over their project designs.

This basic organizational structure might have continued (supervisors, DCB and Department of Small Craft Harbors) had problems not arisen over the leasing procedures.

The department put 13 parcels up for bid in January 1961, but there was much less competition than predicted by the consultants, and only three of 13 parcels finally leased had more than one bid.

Rex Thompson, director of the department, blamed the slow start on the current economic recession and the fact that potential lessees were unable to obtain Federal Housing Administration (FHA) guaranteed loans.

This poor showing in lease bidding created concern among bondholders, and in July 1961, bondholder representatives met with individual county supervisors several times.

Ernest Debs, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, expressed doubts that the board was adequately informed by the department and suggested that to remedy the problem, supervisors would be better informed if each member of the board were to name a leading businessman to a special advisory commission. But Supervisor Burton Chace, whose Fourth District contained the Marina and who was chairman of the Department of Small Craft Harbors, was strongly opposed to the idea.

The question of leasing policy became a matter of wide public debate during the summer of 1961. In a series of articles, Los Angeles Herald-Express reporter Jack Keating charged that the county was engaged in “give-away deals.”

He criticized the methods that the supervisors used in Marina del Rey and elsewhere for awarding private concessions and renegotiating recreational facility contracts.

In one article, Keating specifically questioned whether favored parties were receiving special treatment in the allocation of Marina del Rey concessions. He noted that only three of the 13 parcels leased at the Marina received more than one bid, while Long Beach and Redondo Beach yacht harbors had obtained multiple bids in virtually every concession category.

Keating charged that “Marina officials admitted they were able to make only a limited effort to publicize bidding, blaming it on legal rulings that neither county general funds nor harbor bond revenues could be spent for such purposes;

“That ground rules set up gave the Board of Supervisors great leeway in rearranging lease parcels and defining their usage, the reporter wrote;

“The Board of Supervisors and Marina officials had wide discretion in evaluating bidders’ qualifications;

“Important changes had been made in the original Marina master plan as well as the first bidders’ manual, containing bidding details, which some would-be bidders had not learned of. These changes made bidding more favorable and might have encouraged wider bidding if generally known; and

“Descriptions of permitted uses of certain Marina parcels advertised have been so broad and vague that prospective bidders could hardly proceed without inside information on what type of facility would finally be accepted.”

Finally, Keating asserted that the claim of favoritism was supported by Chace’s strong opposition to Debs’ proposal to place the leasing activities and management of the Marina under the “watchful eye” of a citizen’s commission.

According to “The Urban Marina: Managing and Developing the Marina,” a series of actions, often determined after consultation with financial advisors and bondholders, gave greater protection to creditors and created more attractive conditions for lessees.

These steps included amending the Marina del Rey Revenue Bond Resolution, narrowly defining the “Active Public Use” clause in the standard lease to facilitate construction of apartments and reorganizing the Design Control Board to more effectively expedite lessee development plans.

Two important effects grew out of the policies devised to meet the financial crisis. First, the priority upon high-revenue producing facilities led to a more intensive development of residential and commercial facilities than had been anticipated originally.

This policy, in turn, transformed the Marina from a small boat harbor into an intensely developed residential-commercial-recreational complex. It also created strong disincentives for low-cost or free public facilities.

A second effect grew out of the first. In the process of ensuring that debt requirements would be met, a tradition of consultation and day-to-day communications developed between Marina administrators and lessees.

This interaction of county officials, lessees and bondholders helped shape the initial policies, procedures, and communication channels for managing the Marina.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2010, 04:48PM by cho »
A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are for.

cho

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History of Marina- Argonaut series # 3
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2010, 04:21PM »
Looking back at how the Marina was created: Part V
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/04/29/columns/helga_gendell/h.txt
BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 4:07 PM PDT)

Part V of the Marina del Rey history covers actions following the interaction of Los Angeles County officials, lessees and bondholders who helped shape the initial policies, procedures, and communication channels for managing the Marina.

The following information is cited from “The Urban Marina: Managing and Developing Marina del Rey” by Marsha V. Rood and Robert Warren.

After Los Angeles Herald —Express reporter Jack Keating’s article about the county being engaged in “giveaway deals” (sourced in Part IV, April 22nd Argonaut), pressure about Marina policies arose from another source in the latter part of the summer of 1961.

Residents and property owners on the Marina’s periphery began to react to the project’s implications for the overall area. In August 1961, the Small Property Owners League of Los Angeles County and the Venice Canal Improvement Association asked by letter that the county grand jury investigate the propriety, if not the legality, of a number of the Marina’s aspects, charging:

The many apartments planned will compete with the existing buildings surrounding the Marina;

An investigation should determine whether government money should be allocated and bond restitutions should have been allowed in a venture that considers the profit to outside investors above the welfare of taxpayers and constituents in Los Angeles County;

Three 13-story apartment buildings and three-and-four-story parking structures for cars place the accent on planned land use and minimize water use and boating aspects. Only one boat haul-out concession had been announced when launching facilities are most urgently needed in Southern California; and

The Marina, unlike others throughout the U.S., is designed to exclude view from the outside.

The letter to the grand jury concluded with this statement:

“We believe that no government-subsidized profit-making venture of this magnitude should lawfully exist which can in any way prevent orderly growth of other public and private developments.

“We ask that the investigation bring to light the effect of this arbitrary attitude on surrounding property owners and area residents, and that the secrecy be lifted so the public can be informed as to all planned future land and water use, and that all directors and officials of the combined management of this county engineer corps project be instructed to fully regard the immediate surrounding entities in their plans for immediate and future use of land and water.”

No grand jury action was taken on the request. However, the cumulative effect of bondholder concern over the failure to attract competitive bids, newspaper charges of favoritism, and opposition to developmental policies from some neighboring property owners produced changes in the Marina management structure.

The county Board of Supervisors voted on August 16th, 1961, to create a five-man citizens’ “watchdog committee” to act as an advisory body.

The lone opposing vote came from Supervisor Burton Chace. In support of the move, Supervisor Kenneth Hahn declared, “I think it’s high time the board acts, before there is more serious criticism, to keep the public informed on what is going on.”

Supervisor Ernest Debs argued that, “I am advised that some $19.5 million of the taxpayers’ money has gone into the Marina. In this case, I would feel a lot better if we had a citizens’ commission. My appointee will be an outstanding man from the field of finance.”

The supervisors voted that the members of the Small Craft Harbor Advisory Commission, appointed for three-year terms, would have training in one or more of the fields of corporate or governmental finance and investment; commercial or governmental construction; real property management; recreational harbor or port planning, management and operation; and public or private corporate executive management.

Further steps were taken to deal with the leasing problem. On the same day the commission was approved, Debs insisted that no further contracts be awarded until the commission was organized and could conduct a complete inquiry into all phases of Marina operation and all harbor leases.

He specifically demanded that:

“Whenever there is a lone concession bid, it should be rejected and the Marina director be instructed to obtain more competitive bidders.”

Subsequently, the supervisors instructed the county counsel, the CAO and DSCH to make an inquiry into leasing procedures relating to the Marina. On the basis of the report submitted to the board on leasing practices three weeks later, the supervisors revised the lease terms to make them more attractive to potential bidders and acceptable for Federal Housing Administration insurability.

Major changes included:

Private clubs — the requirement in the lease excluding private clubs was stricken from future leases as well as those already executed;

Price control — the amendment specified that decisions made by the director on prices to be charged by lessees could be appealed to the Board of Supervisors;

Rent renegotiation and arbitration — rent increases were not to be made during the first five years, nor more often than ten; and

Subleasing — the lessee could now, without prior approval of the director, sublease portions of the premises (including but not limited to, single residential units, boat slips, and dry storage racks) for individual, non-business, non-commercial uses.

Just as the formal structure for managing the Marina had emerged by 1961, so had a series of decision-making rules for the facility’s development.

Most of these rules stemmed from the county’s fiscal obligations and were pervasive in influencing the character of all subsequent Marina development.

The common view of the Marina as a “business venture” and its special status as a public facility is reflected in a letter written to acting director of the DSCH, Arthur G. Will, from the county counsel, Harold W. Kennedy, in November 1961:

“Under the county charter and the organization of county government, the Board of Supervisors is responsible for the proper conduct of all county departments including the department specifically created to have charge of the Marina Project.

“From a legal standpoint this department is somewhat different from other county departments in its origin and concept.

“Most departments are service departments and involve an obligation against general funds, but this department must have revenue and be run as a business venture in order to satisfy the requirements of the bond resolution.”

The decisions made during the 1960s concerning the range of facilities in the Marina and the type of physical development that took place can be best understood in terms of the following rules:

Protect the bondholders’ investment in the Marina Project (if the DSCH and/or the commission did not do so, default proceedings could be brought against the county);

Protect general revenue production of the Marina —the Marina plan was to be revised periodically to ensure that the project would achieve financial stability and thus ensure its existence. Two million dollars was established as the “break-even point” to pay off bond indebtedness (interest and principle) and operating costs. After minimum bid rents were exceeded, rental rates would then be based on a percentage of lessee’s gross revenues;

Lessees must have more than one bid to ensure against charges of favoritism by the press and the public;

Facilitate leasing by making lease provisions more attractive to potential lessees; and

Establish lines of communication between the Design Control Board, the Small Craft Harbor Advisory Commission (later named the Small Craft Harbor Commission), the Board of Supervisors, the Department of Small Craft Harbors, other government agencies, and the public.

[In November 1965, “bondholders voted overwhelmingly to forego bond redemption payments indefinitely,” according to a Los Angeles Times article by staff.]

[“The move, said harbor officials, served to cut the project’s operating deficit in the current fiscal year from an estimated $593,000 to $380,000. The reduction in the deficit will mean that a substantial part of $600,000 in tax money made available to the marina project by the Board of Supervisors last month will not be needed,” according to the Times article.]

THE JOHN AND WILLIE HJORTH CASE —

By the time the dominant residential and commercial character of the Marina had become well established in the late 1960s, many slip renters began to perceive the pattern as a threat to the traditional boater’s lifestyle and as the cause for the excessive facility use costs.

The experiences of one boater, John Hjorth, and his wife, Willie, were important in dramatizing some of these feelings.

John and Willie Hjorth came to Marina del Rey as live-aboards in 1964 and signed a rental agreement for a slip on an anchorage parcel that had no apartment structures.

The anchorage changed hands twice, and by the end of 1967, it was owned by the Ponty-Fenmore Company and was called Tahiti Marina.

The Hjorths, who had two children, were offered a new slip rental agreement. They believed its terms were more restrictive than their original month-to-month sublease and retained the latter.

Meanwhile, Ponty-Fenmore constructed 149 apartments on the parcel which were advertised as having recreation facilities including outdoor swimming and therapeutic pools; fully equipped separate gyms for men and women, along with saunas; a beautiful new clubhouse, billiard rooms, sun decks, sheltered patios and barbecue pits; outdoor play areas; subterranean parking for more than 200 cars; extra storage space; laundry facilities; and all the comforts of home a step away from a Tahiti mooring.

In March 1969, Tahiti Marina served John Hjorth notice that he had no agreement in effect and asked him to sign a new lease. He again refused to sign the more restrictive lease that stated that only adult live-aboards would be allowed.

On April 1st, 1969, Hjorth received notice to “quit his premises” within a month unless a new agreement were signed. Under California law, a landlord can give a tenant a month’s notice to quit in the absence of a lease.

The reason for the notice need not be given, but in this case, the Tahiti Marina indicated that it did not wish to assume the insurance and liabilities incurred with minor children living at the anchorage.

There were rumors circulating at this time that a Marina-wide policy of no live-aboards was about to be adopted. Many interpreted this rumored action as an attempt by lessees to make slips available in package deals for prospective apartment residents.

True or not, the matter seemed to illustrate to live-aboards that the Marina was becoming a less favorable environment.

Beginning in April 1969, John Hjorth tried to prevent his eviction by writing letters and talking with other boaters.

Failing an accommodation with the Tahiti Marina, he wrote to the Department of Small Craft Harbors, Chace and the Harbor Commission of the state of California.

A petition was also sent to the department signed by boaters supporting Hjorth’s efforts to remain. While refusing to take action, the department did request a ruling from the county counsel on the county’s responsibility to the tenant.

The county counsel issued an opinion on April 30th 1969, that the county had no jurisdiction because it was a matter between the tenant and the lessee.

County counsel cited a section of the standard lease between the county and lessees which states: “Lessees may, without prior approval of the director, sublease portions of the demised premise (including but not limited to, single residential units, boat slips and dry storage racks) for a period not to exceed one year, for individual, non-business, non-commercial use.”

This section was a 1961 amendment to the original standard lease form that had required county approval for all subleases.

From one perspective, the change was a positive one. It removed the objections of prospective lessees and eliminated the necessity for departmental review of all subleases.

From another point of view, the modification meant that the right of on-commercial subleases to take their grievances to the county is non-existent or ambiguous at best.

Hjorth also took his case to the Pioneer Skippers. He stressed that as boaters, they could be threatened and evicted as he was. The group, however, was willing to give him only verbal support without taking any formal action.

A series of maneuvers involving Hjorth continued to August 1970 and included:

Using the press to create public pressure to stop the eviction;

Being taken to court in October 1969 with a resulting agreement for an 18-month stay of eviction without appeal while he looked for another slip;

Refusing to vacate at the appointed time on the grounds that he had been blackballed by other marinas and had no place to go;

Going back to court to unsuccessfully challenge its jurisdiction over the matter; and

Forcing Tahiti Marina to have a U.S. Marshal evict him and have his boat moored in a county slip because no other place could be found.

Hjorth’s activities spotlighted a number of existing and potential problems that boaters faced in the Marina and contributed to the gradual involvement of the Pioneer Skippers in Marina-wide management questions.

At the same time, the department and commission were undergoing adjustments in their relationship with boaters.

The emergence of slip tenants as a constituent group in the Marina’s policy making is reflected in three boater-related matters: slip rental rates, slip rental agreements and the construction of a do-it-yourself boat yard.

Looking back at how the Marina was created: Part VI
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/05/06/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt
BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 3:52 PM PDT)

Part VI of the Marina del Rey history covers the beginning emergence of slip tenants as a constituent group in the Marina’s policy making, reflected by boater-related matters such as slip rental rates, slip rental agreements and the construction of a do-it-yourself boat yard.

The following information is cited from “The Urban Marina: Managing and Developing Marina del Rey” by Marsha V. Rood and Robert Warren.

By the 1960s, non-resident boat slip renters raised a series of issues that proved difficult in many cases, for the existing management system at the time to resolve.

Points of conflict included questions of excessively high moorage fees, preferential parking for Marina residents, inadequate parking, lack of a do-it-yourself boat repair area, and county authority to regulate lessee operation of moorages.

In addition, the priority of high-revenue producing activities over more publicly oriented land and water uses came under severe criticism from several groups.

In their first efforts, groups representing these new issues faced considerable difficulty in gaining recognition in the Marina decision-making processes.

A management system that has evolved to further one set of priorities is frequently resistant to legitimizing new ones, particularly if it requires giving status to interests (those of non-resident boaters) that may conflict with those already participating in management decisions (the lessees).

SLIP TENANTS AS “CITIZENS” OF THE MARINA —

The major issues that developed in the post-1968 period have involved policy questions concerning the use of existing facilities and the inclusion of boater interests in management decisions.

The status of boaters, until recently, has been defined in terms of their positions as sub-lessees.

In effect, this means that the primary relationship of the boater is with the yacht club or the moorage operator rather than with the Department of Small Craft Harbors. This relationship is in contrast to the prime lessees who work more directly with the county.

When many slip renters began to initiate policy questions in the late 1960s, a number of ambiguities immediately became evident concerning their status and rights.

The ensuing conflicts and polarization of some slip renters have resulted in a much more visible and substantive role for boaters in the management process.

A distinction is drawn in the study between the approximately 2,000 people holding slips through yacht club memberships and those who hold non-commercial subleases from commercial moorages.

The two largest clubs, the Del Rey Yacht Club and the California Yacht Club are prime lessees and the other four clubs hold commercial subleases. The clubs, as a result, have control over policy making for the use of their own slip facilities.

Either through shared values, membership participation in decisions, or competition for members, the clubs have been responsive to boating interests and as commercial lessees or sub-lessees have had a recognized status in the overall Marina management system.

Most of the remaining 4,000 slip tenants who hold individual, non-commercial subleases rent from firms that are virtually free to make their own rules and regulations concerning the use of their facilities.

It may not be surprising that the interests and values of slip tenants (particularly live-aboards or traditional boaters) and those of profit and development-oriented entrepreneurs might differ at times.

The primary organization representing these boaters is the Pioneer Skippers with a current membership of over 1,000. It was established in 1963 as a social organization and didn’t become seriously involved in management questions until recently.

SLIP RENTAL RATES —

The cost of moorage space in the Marina became a matter of controversy in early 1970. It represents the first major issue the Pioneer Skippers became involved in, but has not yet been resolved satisfactorily from the Skippers’ point of view.

The prices charged by lessees for goods and services within the Marina are subject to regulation by the county.

Section 16 of the standard agreement states that the costs for such goods and services shall be both “fair and reasonable” for the public and allow lessees a “fair and reasonable” return on their investment.

The same section makes the director of the Department of Small Craft Harbors responsible for enforcing the provision and delegates authority to the director to inform a lessee if any prices are found to be unfair or unreasonable.

The lessee can object to the director’s finding, but is required to accept his or hers subsequent determination. An appeal can be made to the Board of Supervisors, but under the terms of the standard lease, their action is final and conclusive.

A call for the director to use this authority in relation to boat slip charges and a vigorous demand for better representation of boaters in Marina policy decisions was made by spokespersons for the Pioneer Skippers.

At the Small Craft Harbor Commission meeting of February 1970, a member of the Skippers made it quite clear that boaters as a group “want to be heard. We want to have a voice. We want to be a party to decisions made in this Marina� We also have an interest in the overall development of the Marina� We have appointed ourselves until there is another spokesman to present our position in the Marina. We will be glad to step aside when someone else comes along.”

The Skippers charged that unreasonable price increases had occurred while service levels had steadily decreased. The group further claimed that moorage operators were giving apartment dwellers preferential treatment for parking spaces in spite of the severe parking shortages for non-resident slip renters on peak usage days.

As a result of the Skippers’ charges and a follow-up request by the group’s attorney that “boaters be a party to the decisions made as they affect boat owners,” the department established an advisory Price Review Committee in March 1970.

Five boat-owner representatives, including one member of the Skippers, and three lessee representatives were appointed to the group.

The operation of that committee through the spring brought the Skippers little satisfaction. During this period, the boater organization urged the Board of Supervisors to impose rent ceilings, alleging that there had been, “A deliberate and systematic unfair treatment of the boaters by certain lessees which shows that the county has chosen to exercise little control to protect the public from profiteering.”

Frustration had reached a high enough point in June 1970 that the president of the Skippers stated that the Small Craft Harbor Commission was “in business with the lessees�” who operated the anchorages and were benefiting from high slip rates.

When that commission asked the group to provide a list of its members as evidence of its right to speak for boaters, the group refused to comply out of fear that there might be lessee reprisals against individuals.

The Skippers further expressed its disappointment with the committee by pointing out that eight of the 17 moorages in the Marina had raised their rates since the price review body had been established.

Unlike its reaction to the John and Willie Hjorth case (Argonaut, April 29th), the Skippers went on to become involved in another slip tenant case. Many members expressed concern that the future of all boat owners was at stake because eviction without cause was allowed in a second and more protracted conflict in October 1971 when the same Tahiti Marina issued more new and more restrictive conditions for leasing slips.

Ponty-Fenmore, operator of Tahiti Marina, issued new and more restrictive conditions for letting a slip including:

Persons cannot live aboard their boats for periods longer than three days;

Dogs are forbidden aboard boats and on docks, and tenants who violate this rule face immediate eviction;

Boat maintenance and repair are forbidden. This included use of paint remover, painting of topsides, burning of paints and spray guns. The anchorage management will be the sole judge of what constitutes ordinary maintenance;

Tenants will be assessed an additional one dollar per day for each day they are late with their slip rents after the first ten days;

The dock master has the right to move a boat to a different slip from the one that was originally rented;

Those who leave their boats more than 30 days without paying rent will be assessed $20 a day for each day they are in possession of their slip; and

The anchorage operator may file a possessory lien against a boat and its contents if the terms of the lease are violated. The tenant who takes action against the anchorage operator must agree to pay the anchorage attorney’s fees of not less than $250.

These requirements eliminated living aboard boats as a lifestyle and gave the lessee extraordinary discretion in moorage operations.

The Marina del Rey Historical Society is compiling memorabilia for its collection. If you have photos, documents or any special memory of the Marina you would like to share, please contact the society at (310) 578-1001, or mdrhistory@verizon.net/.

« Last Edit: August 30, 2010, 04:45PM by cho »
A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are for.

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History of Marina- Argonaut series #4
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Looking back on how the Marina was created: Part VII
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/05/14/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt
BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 3:54 PM PDT)

Part VII of the Marina del Rey history covers a boater’s lawsuit against the lessee, Ponty-Fenmore, operator of Tahiti Marina, after the issuance of new and more restrictive conditions for leasing boat slips.

These requirements eliminated living aboard a boat as a lifestyle and gave the lessee extraordinary discretion in moorage operations.

As a point of reference regarding Los Angeles County officials’ recommendations to the county Board of Supervisors about Marina del Rey, a September 6th, 1970 Los Angeles Times staff-authored article titled “Officials Object to More Marina Parking,” stated, “County officials have recommended to the Board of Supervisors against the proposed acquisition ‘at this time’ of additional parking lot space at Marina del Rey.

“In a report to be considered by the board Tuesday, September 8th, officials urged supervisors to:

“1 - Forego at this time any idea of condemning private property bordering Fiji Way at the marina’s south boundary; and

“2 - Postpone any action on acquiring more parking facilities pending a study by Victor Gruen and Associates on how to provide better transportation and traffic movement for the entire marina.”

The article continues, “The Gruen firm has been awarded an $18,000 contract, with instructions to report by July 1st, 1971.”

“Joining in preparing the preliminary report on whether another parking district at Marina del Rey is feasible were Lindon S. Hollinger, chief administrative officer; County Counsel John D. Maharg; Arthur G. Will, director of the Department of Real Estate Management; and Irvin L. Morhar, county road commissioner.”

The Los Angeles Times article goes on to state, “The two-page report, prepared at the request of Supervisor Burton W. Chace, made these points:”

“1 — The idea of acquiring more private land for marina parking is feasible, ‘but only by direct condemnation. Extensive discussions with representatives of the land owners regarding the (possible) lease of the land for a parking lot have had negative results;’”

“2 — Estimated cost of the land and development for parking purposes ranges from $200,000 to $400,000. A minimum of two years would be needed to get condemnation proceedings before a court, and the proceedings could take longer if the owners actively oppose condemnation;”

“3 — Some existing county-owned parking areas at the Marina presently go unused;” and

“4 — The Gruen study may produce recommendations for additional needs or for better utilization of existing or potential parking areas.”

The following information is cited from “The Urban Marina: Managing and Developing Marina del Rey” by Marsha V. Rood and Robert Warren.

Ponty-Fenmore’s action was immediately protested by Robert Feldman, a live-aboard at the Tahiti Marina, at the October 1971 meeting of the county Small Craft Harbor Commission.

Feldman presented a petition signed by slip renters at the three Ponty-Fenmore anchorages, requesting that the commission act upon the matter prior to October 31st, 1971, when Feldman’s rental agreement had to be renewed.

The county’s position was that such agreements were matters between the slip tenant and lessees or sublessee and that the county normally could not intervene.

The commission stated, however, that the matter would be investigated and discussed with the county counsel as soon as possible.

Unlike its reaction to the John and Willie Hjorth case, the Pioneer Skippers became involved in this dispute. Many members expressed concern that the future of all boat owners was at stake because eviction without cause was allowed in the proposed agreement.

Ponty-Fenmore expressed a willingness to talk, and issued a statement saying that no one would be evicted pending a revised rental agreement that would try to take objections of slip tenants into account.

The revised rental agreement, issued after conversations with a Pioneer Skippers representative, proved no more acceptable than the previous draft.

The lessee was willing to allow Feldman and all other live-aboards to occupy their slips if they would sign a new agreement and meet all rules and regulations of the moorage and the county.

Because of the absence of any guarantee of his status and his objections to other parts of the agreement, Feldman refused.

The Pioneer Skippers next presented the county with a proposed Marina-wide slip rental agreement. The lease and finance administrator of the department asked the Skippers to prepare an analysis of its objections to the Ponty-Fenmore agreement.

The Skippers countered at the February 1972 meeting of the commission with a request that the county undertake a study of all rental agreements in use at the Marina.

The county agreed to proceed with the review without taking a position on the merits of the controversy. The matter received increasing attention from the boaters’ organization during the spring without any progress toward settlement of the issue.

In late spring, Feldman was given until May 30th, 1972 to sign or be evicted. Having failed to act, Ponty-Fenmore notified him on May 31st that he was no longer a legal occupant of his slip.

At this point, a number of Marina del Rey boaters, including Feldman, filed charges with the Internal Revenue Service alleging that the recent slip rate increases, the new rental agreements, and lowered levels of service throughout the Marina constituted a violation of the national price controls that were then in effect.

This proved unsuccessful. Concurrently, the president of the Pioneer Skippers attempted to carry on negotiations with the Lessees Association concerning the adoption of a Marina-wide slip rental agreement. Little came of this as well.

The county, under the terms and conditions of the standard lease from between the county and the lessees, had no legal responsibility for slip agreements, but the director of the Department of Small Craft Harbors noted that this did not prevent the county from exercising a moral responsibility for equity in the conflicts between lessees and boaters over slip rental agreements.

The Feldman case provided an immediate test for the moral suasion of the county. Feldman and another boater, Stanley Levine, signed rental agreements in July 1972 but were still in the process of being evicted.

Feldman’s attorney requested that the Department of Small Craft Harbors director intervene on the boaters’ behalf because they were being evicted without specific cause.

The director wrote to Ponty-Fenmore asking that the matter be reconsidered but the latter declined to do so.

Feldman and Levine went to court in August 1972 to contest unlawful detainer proceedings. Their attorney entered a demurrer stating that because the Marina was a public facility owned by the county, a landlord must prove legal cause before eviction could take place.

The two boaters also tried to gain public support for their case and organized a “Sail-In” on August 20th, 1972 to present a petition signed by 1,111 boat owners and users of Marina del Rey.

The petition asked the county to “�reconsider its decision not to intervene in unjustifiable evictions at Marina del Rey anchorages.”

Only 40 boats participated in the event, but a Pioneer Skipper spokesperson commented that many boat owners refused to join in the protest for fear of being evicted. At the time of the writing, Supervisor James Hayes’ office had not yet acted upon the petition.

[The Board of Supervisors at the time consisted of Hayes, Peter Schabarum, Warren Dorn, Ernest Debs and Kenneth Hahn] Hayes was appointed by the governor to replace Supervisor Burton W. Chace, who died in a car accident August 22nd, 1972 on his way to a Board of Supervisors meeting.

Legally, the boaters were unsuccessful with their case in the Culver City Municipal Court and with an appeal to the Appellate Department of the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

In August 1973, the latter body affirmed the lower court’s findings that landlords do not have to allege the reason for evicting tenants under California law.

Note: The Marina del Rey Historical Society is compiling memorabilia for its collection. If you have photos, documents or any special memory of the Marina you would like to share, please contact the society at (310) 578-1001, or mdrhistory@verizon.net/.

Looking back at how the Marina was created: Part VIII
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/05/20/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt
BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 3:46 PM PDT)

Part VIII of the Marina del Rey history deals with the number of developments that were already built in the Marina prior to 1975, and a “do-it-yourself” boat yard where the county and local boaters worked together to facilitate the project.

Detailed information regarding parcel development is from the Web site of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors. A parcel map is also available on the department Web site by clicking on “Communications Strategy” at

http://beaches.co.la.co.us/BandH/Main.htm/.

By 1975, approximately 40 developments were already in place in Marina del Rey including:

Fisherman’s Village (1964);

Marina Fuels, Bora Bora Way (1962);

Shanghai Red’s Restaurant (formerly Pieces of Eight — 1962);

Bay Club Marina, Tahiti Way (1962 — boat slips);

Villa del Mar Apartments and Marina, Marquesas Way (1963 — boat slips);

UCLA Aquatic Center, Fiji Way (1963);

Marina del Rey Hotel and Anchorage, Bali Way (1963 — boat slips/hotel rooms);

Villa Venetia, Fiji Way (1964);

Tahiti Marina, Tahiti Way (1964 — boat slips);

Neptune Marina, Marquesas Way (1964 — boat slips);

Del Rey Yacht Club, Palawan Way (1964);

The Boat Yard, Fiji Way (1964);

Catalina Yacht Anchorage, Bali Way (1964);

U.S. Coast Guard facility, Fiji Way (1964);

Pier 44, Admiralty Way (1965 — boat slips/retail);

Windward Yacht Center, Fiji Way (1965);

Tony P’s Dockside Grill, Admiralty Way (1965);

Del Rey Shores/Del Rey Shores North, Via Marina (1965);

Marina Waterside, Admiralty Way (1965);

California Yacht Club, Admiralty Way (1966);

Commodore Club, Admiralty Way (1966);

Foghorn Hotel and Cheesecake Factory, Via Marina (1966);

Best Western Jamaica Bay Inn, Via Marina (1966);

Mariners Bay, Palawan Way (1966 — boat slips);

Dolphin Marina, Panay Way (1967 — boat slips);

The Waterfront, southeast corner Admiralty Way and Palawan Way (1967);

Holiday Harbor Marina, Panay Way (1968);

Marina Professional Building, Admiralty Way (1969);

Warehouse Restaurant, Admiralty Way (1969);

Del Rey (P. 77), Mindanao Way (1969);

Café del Rey, Admiralty Way (1969);

Oakwood Garden Apartments, Via Marina (1970);

Marina Beach Shopping Center, Washington Boulevard (1970);

Marina West Shopping Center, Washington Boulevard (1970);

Marina City Club, Admiralty Way (1971);

Mariners Village, Via Marina (1971);

Trizec Hahn Towers, Admiralty Way (1971);

Marina International Hotel, Admiralty Way (1973);

Los Angeles County Fire Station, Admiralty Way (1973); and

Archstone Marina del Rey, Via Marina (1975).

The following information is cited from “The Urban Marina: Managing and Developing Marina del Rey,” by Marsha V. Rood and Robert Warren.

A different relationship existed among the county, the boaters and the relevant lessees over the issue of providing a “do-it-yourself” boat yard in the Marina. The matter was resolved differently as well.

When Chris Craft phased out its “do-it-yourself” service area in the late 1960s, it closed down the only such facility in the Marina. Boaters who were interested in making their own repairs were forced to go either to the Long Beach-San Pedro area or have the work done professionally in one of the two Marina yards for a higher cost.

It was much more than an economic question, however. To many, being able to putter around and repair their own craft was an important part of owning a boat. One boater expressed these feelings by letter to Los Angeles County Supervisor Burton Chace in July 1971.

The official reply was that, although the county could not require either of the two existing boat yards in the Marina to have do-it-yourself areas, the department was reviewing the possibility of making such a service available itself, providing that it could be done on a sound legal and financial basis.

Since the one parcel designated for boat repairs was not yet leased, the county could solicit bids for the necessary facility. Failing to find a lessee, the county itself could construct and manage the self-service yard.

As concern over the problem increased, a group of boaters requested that the county provide a do-it-yourself yard on the available parcel. The Small Craft Harbor Commission responded in February 1972 by recommending that the department staff make a review of all the problems involved in leasing the parcel for such a purpose.

A representative of the Association of Santa Monica Bay Yacht Clubs also volunteered to investigate the feasibility of the proposed yard and to try to create bidder interest in the leasehold.

At this point, the Pioneer Skippers also became actively involved in providing evidence to support the economic feasibility of such an operation.

The skippers group distributed 4,000 questionnaires to its members and other boaters throughout the Marina that asked for information concerning spending patterns for boat repairs and interest in a self-service yard.

Because the rate of return was low (264), the responses seemed to be better indicators of an interest in such a facility than of its economic feasibility. Even so, the skippers report on the survey in March 1972 added momentum to the campaign.

At its April meeting, the commission discussed the feasibility of the county’s developing a yard with minimum improvements and perhaps leasing it out on a short-term basis.

Accordingly, specifications for a county yard were drafted for the commission by the department and distributed to the Pioneer Skippers, individual boat owners, potential bidders, and other concerned parties for their review and comment.

The commission then adopted preliminary specifications for bidding on a three-acre yard at its May 1972 meeting. The director of the department advised the commission that if no qualified bidder were found, the county had the option of building the facility itself.

Once it became evident that the county might develop the service, a significant change occurred in the position of the two boat yards in the Marina, Chris Craft and Windward Yacht. Assessing the implications of competing against a county-operated do-it-yourself yard with lower rates, the two lessees submitted a proposal to jointly develop a self-service area at the June 1972 meeting of the commission.

The department’s staff made a detailed evaluation of the offer for conformity with all county requirements. The director then recommended approval with the stipulation of a six-month trial period.

Gruen Associates, consultants to the Marina, also responded favorably to the proposal, as did representatives of the Pioneer Skippers. On this basis, the county approved the joint undertaking.

The “do-it-yourself” case offers an example of the direction policymaking for the Marina can move. There was direct and productive participation by the county and several interested groups in resolving the question.

The county exercised some degree of initiative in meeting a need not met by the private sector. Lessees, when faced with the possibility of competing with a self-service yard (due to the power and willingness of the county to take unilateral action), were able to reach an accommodation with boaters for a needed service, at least for a trial period.

In two of the three cases discussed [the others were the John and Willie Hjorth and Robert Feldman cases], there appears to be greater flexibility in the county management system to respond to a wider range of interests than was the case during most of the 1960s.

It is also clear that the policies and operating rules established to ensure the financial solvency of the Marina still exercise a powerful influence over the options that are available for dealing with newer issues.

A key to the future resolution of such controversies may be to improve the Marina management’s ability to anticipate and meet social and environmental problems, and to represent a wider range of interests.

Note: The Marina del Rey Historical Society is compiling memorabilia for its collection. If you have photos, documents or any special memory of the Marina you would like to share, please contact the society at (310) 578-1001, or mdrhistory@verizon.net/.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2010, 04:42PM by cho »
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History of Marina- Argonaut series #5
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2010, 04:24PM »
Looking back at how the Marina was created: Part IX
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/05/28/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt
BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:26 PM PDT)

Part IX of the Marina del Rey history addresses a former Los Angeles County supervisor’s allegations of corruption and the business dealings of a major Marina del Rey lessee.

A September 4th, 1980 article in The Argonaut by its founder and owner, David Asper Johnson, noted an allegation of corruption by Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke as she campaigned against Deane Dana for the Fourth District supervisorial seat that includes Marina del Rey.

Johnson’s article reported the following:

“In her strongest Marina campaigning yet, Supervisor Yvonne Burke last week charged that the election of her November opponent, Deane Dana, would lead to ‘corruption of the Board of Supervisors by developers.’”

“Burke made the strong charges as she addressed the Marina Tenants Association.

“‘There are some very important decisions that will be made in the coming year that will affect Marina del Rey, and they are very important,’” Burke warned, suggesting that if Dana is elected he will vote against the interests of Marina apartment and boat slip tenants.

“Many of the tenants had come to complain to Burke about rent increases in the Marina and Burke spent most of her time at the session trying to explain the county’s rent control ordinances and why Marina apartment tenants have experienced recent rent increases as high as 17 percent.”

In Johnson’s article, he stated that Burke told the audience that when the rent control ordinance was extended, an allowable rent increase brought a double rent increase in some cases, and she said the rent control ordinance was only extended for three months.

“Burke continually reminded the Marina tenants that Dana supported Proposition 10, the defeated initiative which would have shifted rent control ordinances from the local to state level.

“‘At the time (the supervisors considered the county rent control ordinance), there was Proposition 10 on the ballot and if our rent ordinance was not in effect, we would have been required to immediately have an election (if Proposition 10 had passed),’” said Burke.

“Burke said she opposes a recent county grand jury suggestion that the county sell all or part of its assets in the Marina. She warned the grand jury issue ‘goes to the very heart of the Marina.’

“‘Is the Marina a recreational resource or is it a business resource,” Burke asked, suggesting that she sees the Marina as a ‘recreational resource while Dana would view the Marina as a business source.’

“Burke acknowledged that the Marina ‘is the biggest profit-making enterprise that the County of Los Angeles has.’”

“Burke told the Marina tenants she had fought to keep Marina Fund monies in the Marina, rather than support recent action by other supervisors who sought to divert the Marina Fund revenues into the county’s general fund.”

“The supervisor said, ‘In the past, monies that were reserved from the Marina were held in the Marina. We are now at the point where the bonds are almost paid off. Now we are at the point where some feel we should use all the funds except those absolutely necessary for the maintenance of the Marina.’”

Johnson wrote that Burke had emphasized that Marina funds should be used to ensure that the whole Marina area is maintained, but that she admitted, “I lost on that,” and that other supervisors succeeded in tapping into the Marina Fund.

Jeffrey Rabin, a Los Angeles Times reporter, wrote on February 28th, 1991, “Yvonne B. Burke angered Marina leaseholders by seeking to defend price controls then in effect on apartments and boat slips. Marina leaseholders, determined to defeat her, contributed to Dana’s successful supervisorial campaign in 1980.”

MARINA LESSEE ABRAHAM M. LURIE —

On November 13th, 1989, Rabin wrote his second part of a three-part series, “The Ties Are Cozy,” about Marina development and the county.

Rabin listed Lurie’s marina holdings in the article: Marina Plaza Hotel site; Marina International Hotel; Marina Beach Hotel; Marina del Rey Hotel; Admiralty Apartments; Islander Marina Apartments; Fisherman’s Village; Pier 44; Marina West; and Marina Beach Shopping Center.

Rabin’s article on Lurie reported the following:

“He is the biggest developer in Marina del Rey, owner of hotels, apartment houses, offices, restaurants, shops and boat slips. Yet when Lurie became delinquent on nearly $1 million in property taxes last year, the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, which oversees the Marina, claims it knew nothing about it.”

“Months after private lenders declared him in default on more than $1 million in loans secured by his county leases, the Department of Beaches and Harbors professed to know nothing about it.

“And when Lurie needed the department’s approval to sell nearly half of his holdings to mystery foreign investors in order to save himself from financial ruin, the agency made no effort to find out who they were.

“For Los Angeles County, the risk of ignorance was substantial. A financial collapse of Lurie’s operation could have depressed county revenues and real estate values throughout the Marina. But Department of Beaches and Harbors Deputy Director Chris Klinger conceded, ‘I had never been aware he was having those sorts of problems.’”

“His boss, Director Ted Reed, blamed the department’s ignorance of Lurie’s tax delinquency on ‘a hole in the system.’

“Lurie’s problems surfaced when the Los Angeles Times sought to determine the identities of his secret foreign partners in a transaction approved in August by the Board of Supervisors.

“Lurie won county approval to sell a 49.9 percent interest in his Marina holdings to a secret group of foreign investors.

“In an article Sunday, The Times reported that the Marina’s new leaseholders are members of a Middle Eastern investment group headed by billionaire Saudi Arabian businessmen and arms brokers Khalid and Abdul Aziz Al-Ibrahim, brothers-in-law of King Fahd.

“At the time, supervisors ignored the advice of private and public counsel to obtain the identities of new leaseholders and instead accepted assurances from the investor’s attorneys and accountants that their clients were not involved in any criminal activities,” the article continued.

“The county’s acquiescence in the secrecy was also criticized on grounds that the public has a right to know the identities of those who operate and profit from use of public property.

“But the inquiry also shed new light on how the county manages the Marina and the long and often cozy relationship between the county and Lurie, a major campaign contributor to the supervisors.”

“The mammoth Marina del Rey project began in the early 1960s, conceived as a novel partnership between the government and private enterprise that would give taxpayers a share of the profits. For some of the early investors, profits were elusive.

“Lurie acquired his first Marina properties in 1968 by taking over the foreclosed leaseholds of some of those pioneer investors. Eventually, he became the largest leaseholder in the Marina, developing his new waterfront properties with hotels, restaurants, shops, boat slips and tourist facilities

“Through the years, he has earned a reputation as a hard-nosed businessman and a tough negotiator with political connections. His donations of nearly $200,000 since 1984 to political figures made Lurie one of the top campaign contributors in Los Angeles County,” the article reported.

“Lurie’s campaign contributions have spanned the political spectrum from conservative Republicans to liberal Democrats, from GOP Governor George Deukmejian to Assembly Speaker Willie Brown. He also has contributed to each of the five members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

“Once, when the California Coastal Commission tried to force Lurie to include low-cost roomS for the poor in his new luxury hotels as a condition for approving construction, the combative developer drummed up special interest legislation seeking to establish that his waterfront property was not in the coastal zone. The bill never passed, but he won a compromise,” the article said.

“Lurie’s relationship with Los Angeles County government has been considerably more cozy. For more than 15 years, the county has waited patiently for Lurie to build a nine-story hotel, to be called the Marina Plaza, on one of his leased parcels. In addition to property tax, the county stands to earn a percentage of the profits generated by the hotel. It was one of the hotels delayed by Lurie’s long-running battle with the coastal agency.”

In March 1983, the supervisors voted to extend Lurie’s long-term lease on the site if he would proceed with “the prompt improvement of the premises” by building the long delayed hotel.

“However, the lease extension was to be canceled if Lurie was unable to begin construction by the time his Coastal Commission development permit expired on December 8th, 1983. By mutual consent that date was extended for another year. Lurie contends that the installation of some underground pilings satisfied the lease terms, but the land is still vacant today, five years after the last deadline.

“According to county tax rolls, the land is valued at $4.4 million, although private investors estimate its market value to be several times greater. Yet for the last six years, Lurie has paid the county only $1,001 per month in rent to preserve his development rights to the prized site,” the Times article reported.

“An additional $10,100 a month is deferred and is not due until 15 years after Lurie gets a construction loan for the hotel. Lurie owes the county more than $880,000 in deferred rent and interest.”

“Department of Beaches and Harbors’ Klinger acknowledges that the hotel site is ‘a very, very valuable piece of property’ and is not generating the kind of revenue it should be, and he called the minimal rent Lurie pays for the property as ‘the greatest deal in the marina.’”

“Director Reed is more blunt: ‘There is no doubt that parcel is the source of great embarrassment to all of us, he said. We have not been able to accomplish what was expected.’” reported Rabin.

Reed also stated that the county’s lawyers believe Lurie’s initial work on the property was enough to preserve his claim to the hotel site,

“Ironically, the seeds of Lurie’s financial troubles were sown when he built another hotel, the high-rise Marina Beach Hotel. It has lost money since it opened in 1986. Lurie blames himself for not allying with a major hotel chain.”

It was at this point that Lurie “turned to a group of real estate brokers for help in finding a financial partnership to bail him out. After months of private negotiations, he asked the county last fall to approve a $160-million loan from the secret investors via the Paris-based Banque Indosuez.”

“By that time, Lurie’s financial troubles had become widely known in private business circles. ‘Everybody knew Abe was having trouble,’ said one Lurie competitor, who asked not to be identified.

“But county officials insisted they had no idea that Lurie was in a precarious financial condition. They did know, however, that the Marina Beach Hotel was not living up to profit expectations and Lurie had a $5.5 million balloon payment coming due,” wrote Rabin.

Information about Lurie’s business dealings will continue in the Thursday, June 3rd issue of The Argonaut.

Note: The Marina del Rey Historical Society is compiling memorabilia for its collection. If you have photos, documents or any special memory of the Marina you would like to share, please contact the society at (310) 578-1001, or mdrhistory@verizon.net/.


Looking back at how the Marina was created: Part X
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/06/03/columns/helga_gendell/h.txt
BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 4:14 PM PDT)

Part X of the Marina del Rey history continues the story about Marina lessee Abraham M. Lurie and provides background on the issue of boat slip fee increases driving boaters away from Marina del Rey.

Two years prior to Los Angeles Times reporter Jeffrey Rabin’s article about Lurie’s financial problems, Times reporter Barbara Baird wrote an article, “Fee Increases Drive Boaters Away From Marina del Rey, Group Says,” on May 17th, 1987. The article stated, “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.”

The following is cited from Baird’s report:

“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 1st 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 the Pioneer Skippers’ report to the commission.

“The May 1st vacancy rate among 103 slips at Aggie-Cal was 11.5 percent, Winston said.

“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 one percent 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.”

[Note: Boran was a resident of Orange County at the time and it was determined that he couldn’t serve on the commission because appointees were required to be Los Angeles County residents.]

“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.’”

“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 & Company of Century City.

“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 Department of Beaches and Harbors, announced that he had 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 January 1st, 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.

“In response to requests by Pioneer Skippers, the department had 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 1st was 3.3 percent, the department reported.”

MARINA LESSEE LURIE —

Rabin’s article in Part Two of his three-part series, “The Ties Are Cozy,” dated November 13th, 1989, about Marina development and the county, continues in Part X of the Argonaut’s Marina history series. Part IX finished with Rabin’s report that “Lurie’s financial problems had been disclosed, and he had a $5.5 million balloon payment coming due.

“‘We knew that he was going to have some big problems come this year,’” said Beaches and Harbors Director Ted Reed.

“Lurie’s financial health was of substantial importance to the county. His lease payments exceeded $3.3 million last year — nearly 20 percent of the annual revenue produced for the county treasury by Marina del Rey — and his property taxes added $1 million more annually.

“A Lurie bankruptcy would have disrupted the county’s income, at least for a time.

“Unlike most of the funds that the county had at its disposal, the $16.4 million generated from Marina del Rey leases enters the county treasury without any strings attached. These funds can be dispensed at the discretion of the Board of Supervisors.

“In addition to any revenue loss to the county, private real estate consultants say that the ripple effect of a financial failure of the magnitude of Lurie’s operations could have depressed commercial and residential real estate values throughout the Marina.

“In December, he failed to make property tax payments on most of his Marina properties. Failure to pay the county taxes can be grounds for default, the first step in revoking the lease. But such drastic action is not taken immediately.

“In February and March, private lenders recorded default notices against Lurie’s Marina International Properties, Ltd. for missing more than $1 million in loan payments.

“To make matters worse, the Banque Indosuez loan deal fell apart in March. Unidentified foreign investors were concerned that the loan arrangement would not protect them from federal and local taxes. They began restructuring the deal as a partnership.

[The unidentified foreign investors were mentioned in Part IX. They were members of a Middle Eastern investment group headed by billionaire Saudi Arabian businessmen and arms brokers Khalid and Abdul Aziz Al-Ibrahim, brothers-in-law of King Fahd].

“The second installment of Lurie’s property taxes went unpaid in April. Documents obtained under the California Public Records Act show that Lurie told county officials in June that Marina International Properties ‘had an immediate need for cash.’”

“County officials responsible for the Marina said, however, they did not know of Lurie’s loan defaults or failure to pay property taxes until a Times reporter asked about them last month,” wrote Rabin.

“‘You’re telling me for the very first time,’ said Beaches and Harbors Deputy Director Chris Klinger. ‘We have not been informed.’”

“Reed, calling it a ‘hole in the system,’ blamed the county tax collector’s office for failing to notify his department that Lurie was late on his taxes. ‘We should be notified so we can take appropriate action,’” he said.

Rabin’s article continues: “Associates and competitors alike knew Lurie was in trouble, even if the county did not. A rival said Lurie was ‘hemorrhaging cash’ and a former associate said, ‘He was in desperate shape. He was squeezed cash-wise�I think it’s fair to say Mr. Lurie would have been in very serious financial trouble, if not bankruptcy, if this transaction had not occurred.’”

“Lurie agreed to take on the secret group of foreign investors as partners in exchange for an immediate cash infusion of $5.5 million. He would receive another $16.3 million once the supervisors approved the deal making the unidentified financiers general partners in Lurie’s Marina properties.

“With county approval vital, Lurie mounted a lobbying campaign with the Board of Supervisors. He knew all of the members and had made political contributions to each one.

“Lurie told the Times he didn’t believe he got any special treatment from the county, complaining ‘We don’t get the kind of action from any board member that we should,’ given the economic importance of the Marina to the county.

“As the deadline for county approval neared, Lurie settled issues that might become obstacles. In June, after years of disagreement over rental rates, county officials and Lurie reached an accord. Lurie agreed to drop a lawsuit challenging the county’s ability to regulate Marina rents.

The county agreed to let him take 18 months to repay more than $883,000 in past-due rent, some dating back eight years — assessing a below-market interest rate of only 4.5 percent.

“Lurie paid off his delinquent property taxes and penalties of $904,418 on July 5th (but left $49,404 unpaid on the vacant hotel site for two more months). With the decks cleared, Lurie prepared for the supervisors’ vote,” Rabin wrote.

“A confident Lurie told his business associates that he expected no trouble gaining approval of his partnership with the secret foreign investors. One associate remembers Lurie saying, ‘We’re going to do down there and make it happen.’”

Rabin wrote, “The $21.8-million transaction awaiting Board of Supervisors approval was designed — according to notes of private business meetings obtained by the Times from Lurie associates — to shield the investors from taxes and to protect their privacy through the use of a dozen newly formed shell corporations in the US, the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg.”

“The sale of 49.9 percent of Lurie’s interest stopped just short of the 50 percent level that would have activated reassessment of all his Marina property and increased its value for property tax purposes by more than $100 million.

“Lurie said one of the reasons for choosing the Luxembourg company was confidentiality. ‘The way this is structured there is no way of determining who they are.’”

“But the county counsel’s office had advised the Department of Beaches and Harbors a year ago that the county could face potential problems under federal anti-racketeering statutes if ‘tainted money’ was invested in the Marina. The property could be subject to seizure by law enforcement agencies or tied up in civil litigation if illegally obtained funds were used, officials warned.”

« Last Edit: August 30, 2010, 04:41PM by cho »
A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are for.

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History of Marina- Argonaut series #6
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2010, 04:25PM »
Looking back at how the Marina was created: Part XI
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/06/10/columns/helga_gendell/h.txt
BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 4:15 PM PDT)

Part XI of the Marina del Rey history continues the story about Marina lessee Abraham M. Lurie.

Part X concluded with Los Angeles Times reporter Jeffrey Rabin’s article, “The Ties are Cozy,” dated November 13th, 1989, about Lurie’s business dealings and unidentified partners [a Middle Eastern investment group headed by billionaire Saudi Arabian businessmen and arms brokers Khalid and Abdul Aziz Al-Ibrahim, brothers-in-law of King Fahd].

Rabin’s article stated “that the county counsel’s office had advised the Department of Beaches and Harbors that the county could face potential problems under federal anti-racketeering statutes if ‘tainted money’ was invested in the Marina. The property could be subject to seizure by law enforcement agencies or tied up in civil litigation if illegally obtained funds were used, officials warned.”

Rabin’s Los Angeles Times article continues, “This posed a potential dilemma for the department since Lurie was asking the county to approve investors whose names could not be revealed.

“In fact, the county’s 15-year-old policy on assignment of Marina leases from one party to another specifically requires examination of the financial condition of the new partner, an unlikely task when the partners are secret,” the article stated.

“Outside legal counsel, who examined Lurie’s deal with the secret investors, urged the county to obtain specific financial guarantees from the investors, given the secrecy and concerns that most of their assets could be outside the US. Despite that advice, county officials did not examine, nor did they require disclosures regarding the identity, finances, nationality or background of the investors.

“They did, however, look into the background of key officials with the Century City consulting firm that would manage the investment for the foreign buyers.”

Rabin’s article continues, “‘We asked and we were told right from the beginning that (the investors) wished to remain anonymous,’” Department of Beaches and Harbors Director Ted Reed said.

“So the county simply sought assurances about the investor’s character. In the final week, supervisors received letters from lawyers and accountants attesting to the integrity of the investors.

“Chicago attorney Cornelius J. Sullivan said his clients, the unnamed investors, were successful foreign business people. ‘Their principal activities involve real estate investments throughout the world�. Their businesses do not in any way involve trafficking in drugs, laundering money, or other criminal activity,’” Sullivan wrote.

“He told the county that the investors prefer to protect their privacy and avoid the public limelight ‘in order to avoid hucksters, flimflam men, gold diggers, extortionists, kidnappers, terrorists, and similar criminal elements that tend to gravitate to and feed upon the prominent and well-to-do.’”

The Times article continues, “And in a two-paragraph letter delivered to supervisors on the morning of the final vote, Thomas M. Goff of Laventhol & Horwath — the investor’s accounting firm — aid the financiers were not members of any terrorist or subversive organization, nor were they from a communist country or a nation suspected of terrorism.”

“Supervisor Dean Dana said he recalled Lurie’s lobbying efforts but said he was unaware of the Marina developer’s financial troubles. He said he was not concerned about secrecy surrounding the foreign investors. ‘It seemed like a reasonable deal,’” said Dana.

“Mas Fukai, chief deputy to Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, said the county was assured it was dealing with respectable people who were concerned about their personal safety. ‘The explanation was satisfactory to the supervisor,’” Fukai said.

Rabin’s article continues, “On the day of the decision, David Naftalin, attorney for the Marina Tenants Association, protested to the supervisors that the county had received ‘absolutely no information on the financial condition of the assignee�If the county is going to maintain control over its real property,’ he argued, ‘it ought to know who the assignees are. This is a general principle.’”

“Naftalin also questioned the county’s acceptance of secret investors: ‘The idea that a lawyer from Chicago is going to give an affidavit stating that there won’t be any tainted money put into the Marina seems a little bit difficult to give credibility to.’”

“Supervisor Ed Edelman, who was not present when the board voted 4-0 to approve the transaction, said he was troubled by the secrecy. ‘The county needs to know who it’s doing business with,’ he said in a subsequent interview.”

Rabin’s article concludes with comments from Reed:

“But Department of Beaches and Harbors Director Reed defended the county, saying the public interest was served by Lurie’s partnership with the foreign investors. He said it will mean substantial new investment in the Marina and will spur construction of the Marina Beach Hotel.

“Besides, he said, ‘secrecy is common in the business world. I am in the business world. I am here to make money for the county,’” Reed said.

An abstract summary of Rabin’s Los Angeles Times July 11th, 1991 article, “Developer, Saudi Partners File for Bankruptcy,” detailed occurrences leading up to this event.

According to the abstract summary in the Times report, “October 1990, Lurie agrees to sell his remaining 50.1 percent interest in the Marina to the Saudis for $15.3 million, with the Saudis also agreeing to assume more than $130 million in debts on the properties.

“Los Angeles County demands to know the identity of the investors and their background. But the deal collapses and a bitter battle for control of the Marina holdings ensues.

The abstract continues, “March 1991 — the Saudi investors file suit in Los Angeles Superior Court seeking to dissolve their Marina partnership and accusing Lurie of engaging in ‘fraud and abuse.’ Two banks file default notices against the partnership for failure to make payments on $75 million in loans.

“June 1991 — Lurie, faced with mounting legal problems involving his Saudi partners, his ex-wife and former real estate brokers, files for bankruptcy in a bid to protect his personal assets. A Superior Court judge appoints a receiver to oversee the Marina holdings.

“July 10th, 1991 — The day before a scheduled bank foreclosure against one of their Marina hotels, Lurie and his partners seek protection under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code,” according to the Los Angeles Times abstract summary.

On December 3rd, 1992, Rabin’s article, “Lurie Ends Attempts to Refinance Marina Real Estate” stated, “In a move that could end his involvement in Marina del Rey, developer Abraham M. Lurie withdrew a bankruptcy reorganization plan, enhancing chances that a billionaire Saudi Arabian businessman will end up controlling almost 20 percent of the Marina’s properties.”

The article stated that Lurie withdrew his plan to reorganize after financing for the plan collapsed.

“The move effectively removes Lurie as a major player in a long-running and bitter battle for control of the real estate empire that he has dominated since the late 1960s,” wrote Rabin.

“The withdrawal of Lurie’s plan marks the end of an era. Long a prominent figure and major contributor to political campaigns, he was the largest leaseholder in the Marina.

“On the second day of a crowded bankruptcy court hearing, the Saudi plan had the support of the county and most major creditors of the bankrupt Marina International Properties, Ltd. with the exception of Bank of Montreal,” the article continued.

“The proceedings are being closely watched by a phalanx of attorneys representing the county and a group of banks that together have more than $140 million in unpaid loans on the Marina properties.

“With real estate values depressed by the recession and the deteriorated condition of the properties, initial appraisals put the value of the leaseholds at between $111 million and $126 million,” stated Rabin’s article.

“By far the biggest loser could be the Canadian bank, which is owed more than $54.6 million on the Marina Beach Hotel, almost double what appraisers believe it is worth.

“Attorneys for the Bank of Montreal have been mounting a vigorous challenge to the Saudi reorganization plan since the bankruptcy court hearing began Tuesday,” according to Rabin’s article.

“In testimony, Abdul Aziz Yahya, president of Newfield Enterprises International, a Century City firm that manages Al-Ibrahim’s US real estate holdings, said the Saudi businessman would be the sole owner of the reorganized Marina properties under their plan.”

In February 1993, Los Angeles County terminated Lurie’s lease on the last piece of undeveloped waterfront property in Marina del Rey, ending what a top county official once described as a “great embarrassment,” according to Rabin.

On May 1st, 1993, Rabin’s and Times reporter Ron Russell’s article, “Saudi Wins Court Fight Over Marina Real Estate,” stated, “A billionaire Saudi Arabian businessman with close ties to the Saudi royal family won a bitterly contested battle in federal bankruptcy court and took control of the largest bloc of properties in county-owned Marina del Rey.”

“The Saudi plan calls for investing $4.7 million in upgrading the Marina properties and boat slips. And Ibrahim has pledged to invest another $12 million and extensively redevelop the properties if the county agrees to extend the leases, most of which expire in 30 to 40 years,” wrote Rabin and Russell.

“The Bank of Montreal withdrew its proposal and joined late last month in supporting the Saudi bid after Ibrahim’s attorneys agreed to reduce the bank’s losses on the deal. The Canadian bank was owed more than $54 million on the high-rise Marina Beach Hotel only to see the property’s values slump to barely half that amount,” Rabin and Russell wrote.

“Eric Bourdon, then director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors, also welcomed the new Saudi role in the Marina. ‘They will upgrade the properties and manage them much more aggressively’”, he said.

According to Rabin and Russell’s article, Ibrahim’s nine Marina holdings — Marina International Hotel, Doubletree/Marina Beach Hotel, Marina del Rey Hotel, Admiralty Apartments, Islander Marina Apartments, Fisherman’s Village, Pier 44, Marina West and the Marina Beach Shopping Center — “provide more than $5 million a year in rent, hotel and sales tax receipts to the financially strapped county government. County officials hope that the receipts will increase as the Marina holdings are upgraded.”

In a Los Angeles Times article by Rabin on February 13th, 1997 titled “Sheik Loses Holdings in Marina del Rey,” he wrote, “A billionaire Saudi Arabian businessman, who secretly bought a major stake in county-owned Marina del Rey almost eight years ago, has lost most of his remaining Marina holdings in federal bankruptcy court.”

Rabin wrote, “Los Angeles County officials have been concerned that promises by the Saudi businessman to invest in upgrading and redeveloping aging Marina properties have not been kept up because of the bankruptcy.

“Ironically, Sheik Abdul Aziz al-Ibrahim, brother-in-law of Saudi King Fahd, became the largest leaseholder in the Marina when he drove his US business partner out of the harbor after a contentious bankruptcy case that ended in 1993.

Rabin continues “Since then, the Saudi investor, whose US real estate interests include Ritz Carlton in New York, Washington, Houston and Aspen, Colorado, has apparently lost interest in Marina del Rey.

“County officials welcomed the court’s approval this week of an agreement to remove six properties from the protracted bankruptcy proceedings and transfer long-term leases on hundreds of boat slips, an apartment complex, shopping centers, restaurants and offices to a new owner.

“‘We obviously don’t like leaseholds in bankruptcy,’ said Stan Wisniewski, then director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors. ‘We’re pleased to see this chapter come to a close.’”

“In a settlement agreement approved in Los Angeles by US Bankruptcy Court Judge Calvin Ashland, the sheik’s company, MGC Commercial, will give up its long-term leases on the six Marina properties, including the tourist attraction Fisherman’s Village, the Marina Beach and Marina West Shopping Center and office complexes, Admiralty Apartments and Pier 44 and 77.

“Earlier, Ibrahim lost the high-rise Marina Beach Hotel, which is now owned and operated by Marriott. He retains leases on just two properties, the Marina International and Marina del Rey hotels.

“The six properties involved in the bankruptcy settlement will be foreclosed on February 24th by CS First Boston Mortgage Capital Corp. The company holds approximately $26 million in loans on the properties,” wrote Rabin.

“As part of the settlement agreement, CS First Boston promised to repair or replace 32 boat slips and pay the county more than $53,000 in back rent.

“Altogether, the county will receive about $24 million this year in income from the Marina, but nearly $21 million of that goes to repay notes issued when the county mortgaged the Marina in 1993 to pay one-time operating expenses,” Rabin wrote.

“To boost its return on the prime waterfront property, county officials are working on an ambitious long-range strategy to encourage development of the Marina.

“The county’s Small Craft Harbor Commission approved 4-1 a plan to provide incentives for upgrading the harbor to attract more residents, business people and tourists.

“‘We’re excited because clearly it’s a historic document for Marina del Rey,’” Wisniewski said.

Note: The Marina del Rey Historical Society is compiling memorabilia for its collection. If you have photos, documents or any special memory of the Marina you would like to share, please contact the society at (310) 578-1001, or mdrhistory@verizon.net/.

Looking back at how the Marina was created: Part XII

http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/06/17/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt
BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 2:55 PM PDT)

Part XII of the Marina del Rey history series addresses an attempt by the then chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to propose a policy that would balance the public’s right to know about Marina del Rey development against the need to attract investments in county projects.

Los Angeles Times reporter Jeffrey Rabin’s article, “(Supervisor Ed) Edelman Wants End to Secrecy in Land Leases,” was written on November 15th, 1989, regarding the undisclosed Saudi investors in Marina del Rey who became partners with lessee Abraham M. Lurie.

Rabin’s article states, “Responding to disclosures that Saudi Arabian businessmen and arms brokers secretly bought a major stake in leases on public land at Marina del Rey, Edelman on Tuesday proposed that the county require that future investors in county-owned property be publicly identified.

“Edelman, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, told his colleagues that he will propose adoption of a policy next week that would balance the public’s right to know who is doing business on public land against the need to attract investment in county projects,” wrote Rabin.

[The Board of Supervisors at the time, in addition to Edelman, included Pete Schabarum, Mike Antonovich, Deane Dana and Kenneth Hahn].

Rabin’s article continues, “After a two-month investigation, the Times reported in articles on Sunday and Monday that the Marina del Rey holdings were secretly purchased by a group of Middle Eastern investors headed by Khalid and Abdul Aziz Al-Ibrahim, billionaire brothers of Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd.

“The articles also reported that the supervisors approved the deal without attempting to learn the investor’s identities.

“‘We should try to work out a policy that will bring that information to the public,” Edelman said Tuesday. It’s not like a private corporation. It’s a public body, and the public is entitled to know. At the same time, we don’t want to give up opportunities so the county loses money.’”

“The Ibrahim group, in a $21.8-million cash transaction, became partners with the Marina’s largest developer, Lurie, in three existing hotels, a planned luxury hotel, two apartment complexes, shops, offices, restaurants and more than 1,000 boat slips on 63 acres of county-owned property,” Rabin reported.

“Edelman, the only supervisor who did not vote on the Marina deal last summer, said he would have liked to have known the identities of the investors.

“But whether Edelman’s proposed policy will be adopted is an open question. Rather than discussing the issue, two of the supervisors instead sharply criticized the Times article.”

Rabin’s article continues, “Supervisor Schabarum accused the newspaper of being ‘completely off base.’ He said the supervisors were told by the county counsel’s office that approval of the sale could not be unreasonably withheld. ‘That is the only recommendation’ the board had received from its lawyers, he said.”

“Supervisor Antonovich added that ‘the board’s hands were basically tied’ in approving the secret investors,” the article stated.

“A year ago, however, the county counsel’s office advised the Department of Beaches and Harbors, which oversees the Marina, that the county could ‘just say no’ to such a deal to protect itself in case the money being invested had been illegally obtained.

“The memorandum, authored by Frank Scott, principal deputy county counsel, warned that if ‘illegally obtained funds were used to finance the buyout’ of Marina property, the county’s economic interest could be jeopardized,” according to the Times article.

“‘Tainted money and those it touches could be the subject of criminal and civil lawsuits,’ the memo said. Such lawsuits could disrupt Marina businesses, possibly reduce county revenues and make the property subject to seizure.

“Under the terms of the lease, ‘the county has the up-front power to protect itself from illegal financing of assignments,’ the memo said, adding that the lease ‘allows the county to just say no’ to the transaction,” stated the article.

“In July, the Department of Beaches and Harbors obtained legal advice from an outside law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, urging that the county obtain specific financial guarantees from the investors because it could be difficult for the county to pierce the veil of secrecy surrounding them.

“Despite the advice, county officials did not examine the finances, nationality or background of the investors, nor did the disclosures of their identities.

Instead, they relied on assurances from Chicago attorney Cornelius J. Sullivan that his clients, the investors, were successful foreign business people who were not involved in criminal activity.

“No evidence has surfaced of any criminal taint on the Marina investment funds,” Rabin’s article continued.

“The deal gave the investors a 49.9 percent in the Marina properties of Lurie, a major campaign contributor to the supervisors. If Lurie had sold more than 50 percent, his Marina leaseholds would have been reassessed for property tax purposes.

“Noting the complexity of the deal and the desire of the investors to avoid taxation, the county assessor’s office has begun a review of the transaction to determine whether the properties can be reassessed at market value,” the Times article stated.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2010, 04:37PM by cho »
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History of Marina- Argonaut series #7
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2010, 04:26PM »
Looking back at how the Marina was created: Part XIV
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/07/01/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt
BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 3:42 PM PDT)

Part XIV of the Marina del Rey history series addresses tenants’ past complaints about apartment and boat slip rent increases.

Part XIII in last week’s Argonaut concluded with information about increasing Marina development and prices.

An April 29th, 1984 article titled “Tenants File Appeal in Marina Rent Case” by Los Angeles Times reporter James Rainey reported, “Marina del Rey tenants and boat owners are continuing their fight against what they call exorbitant rent increases by apartment and boat anchorage operators.

“The Marina Tenants and Pioneer Skippers associations have filed an appeal in their latest legal move to slow rent increases of apartments and boat slips. A hearing date was set in California’s Second Appellate Court,” stated the article.

“Apartments and boat slips on county property are governed by a master lease between the county and landlords. Members of both associations said the county’s rent control ordinance and provisions in the lease do not adequately control slip and apartment rents in the marina. They hope to prove landlords are making more than the ‘fair and reasonable’ return called for in the lease.”

The Times article continued, “The appeal stems from a 1981 class action suit filed by the tenants association against three landlords: Deauville Marina Development Co., Marina Admiralty Development Co., operator of Mariner’s Village, and Bar Harbor Development Co. The Pioneer Skippers Association later joined the suit as a plaintiff and Oakwood Garden Apartments was added as a defendant.

“The lawsuit charged that landlords broke the lease by profiting in excess of a ‘fair and reasonable return on (their) investment.’”

“The suit called for rents to be rolled back and overcharges to be refunded to tenants and boat owners,” stated the Times article.

“Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jack Ryburn dismissed the suit in February, ruling that apartment dwellers and boat owners had no say in the lease agreement.

“But tenants said the only way to prove their point is to open financial records to show how much the landlords are making.

“‘We think when the information comes out that it will be clear that excess profits are being made, especially when you consider that it is publicly owned land,’ said Willie Hjorth of the Pioneer Skippers.

“‘We thought the only way to solve it was through a lawsuit,’ said Hjorth. ‘We just didn’t have the time to go in and yell at the (Small Craft) Harbor Commission every time the rates went up.’”

The Times article continued, “Representatives of the tenants and skippers associations said current price controls are not working. The county adopted a formula in 1981 to limit the rents on 6,000 marina boat slips. The formula includes a weighted average of rates at other Southern California harbors and the average annual consumer price increase.

“In the last three years the price of the average boat slip has increased from $3.95 per foot each month to $6.22 per foot, a 57 percent jump.

“Privately operated anchorages at Newport Beach charged an average of $8.29 per foot for a boat slip, the highest in Southern California. Municipal boat slips in Santa Barbara are the lowest, costing $3.66 per foot per month,” stated the Times article of figures at the time.

“‘It’s obviously inflationary to make the comparisons with other marinas,’ said Jack Woods, former president of the Pioneer Skippers Association. ‘The only way to settle it is to look at it and see if a fair and reasonable return is being made.’”

“Chris Klinger, chief of revenue properties for the county Department of Beaches and Harbors, denied that the county is allowing the boat owners to be overcharged.

“‘Some of the lessees voluntarily submit profit figures,’ Klinger said, ‘and they are far from gouging the tenants. Surveys indicate that the marina is in the 70th or 75th percentile for rents compared with other harbors in Southern California.’”

The Times article reported, “Robert Leslie, a spokesman for the Marina del Rey Lessees Association, said the controls have lowered boat slip prices too much.

“‘Appraisals completed last year and this year have shown that the prices should be set at the fair market rate and right now we aren’t even close to that,’ Leslie said.”

“Rent increases are subject to the county’s rent control ordinance and review by the Department of Beaches and Harbors. But only 30 percent of the 5,813 units in the marina are under rent control. And the county Board of Supervisors has ordered that the ordinance be phased out entirely by the end of 1985,” the article stated.

“Greg Richardson, who administers rent control in Marina del Rey, said uncontrolled apartments tend to be 1.4 times as expensive as those under rent control.”

The Times article continues, “Applied to a one-bedroom apartment on the water, that would mean an increase from $500 to $700 per month. An average two-bedroom apartment would have increased from $871 to $1,300.

“‘For eight years we have been following this thing and asking for relief,’ said John Rizzo of the tenants association. ‘The county has let the lessees make tens of millions of dollars in overcharges and the people just get ripped off. As far as we know, the county has never turned down a request by the lessees for a single rent increase.’”

“Eric Bourdon, assistant director of the Department of Beaches and Harbors, said he cannot recall the department denying a rent increase. The department checks rents through similar communities in Southern California, Bourdon said.

“A consultant will be hired this summer to determine whether the lease or pricing policies should be modified, Bourdon said.

The Times article stated, “Bruce Warner, a lawyer for the Oakwood Garden Apartments, said he thinks Judge Ryburn’s decision will stand. ‘We think that the prices that are being charged are fair and reasonable under the lease.’ There are other provisions of the lease that indicate that one of the goals is to maximize revenues for the county. And that is based on profits made by the lessees,’ Warner said.”

Looking back at how the Marina was created: Part XV
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/07/08/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt

BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, July 7, 2010 1:45 PM PDT)

Part XV of the Marina del Rey history series addresses an attempt at cityhood for Marina del Rey by local residents and boaters concerned about lessees’ increasing rental costs for apartments and boat slips at the time.

Part XIV covered tenants’ past complaints about apartment and boat slip rentals.

In a September 6, 1984 article titled “Marina Cityhood Effort Surfaces,” Los Angeles Times reporter Mark Gladstone reported, “The state legislature has shunned a move by the conservative majority on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to stop Marina del Rey from becoming an independent city.

“As lawmakers rushed to finish their legislative session, county officials lobbied for a measure that, in effect, would have blocked cityhood advocates from taking any more steps toward incorporating county-owned Marina del Rey.

“But the county’s efforts collapsed after lawmakers, who had agreed to carry the bill in the Assembly, withdrew their support.”

The Times article continues, “The cityhood drive was sparked by fears that rents will skyrocket after county rent controls are phased out, starting next year. Supporters met with county Local Agency Formation Commission officials who confirmed that they will study the feasibility of turning Marina del Rey into a municipality.

“The majority of the supervisors, however, are opposed to Marina del Rey incorporation because the area does not have a large enough tax base to sustain municipal services,” stated the Times article.

“‘Incorporations with large amounts of government-owned property do not make sense,’ said three supervisors in a letter to lawmakers last week. Supervisors Deane Dana, Peter Schabarum and Michael Antonovich signed the letter.

“Some county and state officials view Marina del Rey’s cityhood as a potential threat to the massive Playa Vista development proposed by the late Howard Hughes Summa Corp. south of the marina.

“The Marina del Rey incorporation would be the second major incorporation drive within a year in West Los Angeles. Voters in West Hollywood will decide on cityhood there in November.”

Gladstone’s Times article continues, “Marina del Rey renters have become increasingly vocal and active in local affairs in recent years.

“‘We’re sick and tired of the landlords�gouging the people rentwise,’ said Harold (Hy) Tucker, chairman of the Committee to Incorporate Marina del Rey.

“The committee wants to turn Marina del Rey’s 800-plus acres of land and water into a separate city that would be wedged between Venice to the north and Playa del Rey to the south.”

“Although the Marina is regarded as the largest small craft harbor in the world, it is dotted with offices and an estimated 14,000 rental units,” stated the Times article.

“Begun in 1958, the county-owned complex was worth an estimated $1 billion by 1981. In exchange for 60-year leases with private firms, the county receives more than $10 million a year in revenues from the marinas.

“Ruth Bennell, the commission’s executive officer, said she told the group that rent control disputes were probably not adequate justification to start a city. Still, Bennell said that she is beginning the three-month feasibility study.

“Upon completion of the study, cityhood backers may file a formal petition, including detailed maps and signatures of 25 percent of the marina’s registered voters.”

The Times article continues, “If the papers are filed, the commission will have to decide whether to place the issue on the ballot.

“That threat led supervisors to take swift action last week. County lobbyists took a bill that had been on the Legislature’s inactive file for months and had amendments prepared to stop the cityhood drive before it got off the ground.

“Under the measure, no preliminary steps toward incorporation could be taken in areas, such as county-owned Marina del Rey, where less than 60 percent of the land is privately owned.

“One legislative staffer familiar with the failed effort called it ‘an attempt at a preemptive strike’ against the embryonic incorporation effort,’” stated the Times article.

“Despite the county’s influence on the Capitol, the 11th-hour lobbying effort fell apart when lawmakers learned that legislative committees had not conducted routine hearings on the issue.

“‘When we realized the county was trying an end run, we said no way,’ said Assemblyman Richard Katz, who initially agreed to co-author the bill along with Assemblyman Frank Hill.”

Gladstone’s Times article reported, “Katz asked county officials to reintroduce the measure next year when it could get a full airing.

“County lobbyist Clancy Leland said he was not sure what the county would do now. But he defended the county’s effort, saying, ‘we have a substantial investment in the marina�.and it’s something we’re interested in protecting.’

“Dana, chairman of the Board of Supervisors and whose district encompasses the marina, organized the abortive effort in Sacramento partly because he feared losing money,” stated the Times article.

“‘If the county were to lose the $10 million to $12 million in revenues currently generated from the marina and soon to be as much as $20 million, we have to protect the county’s interest and the public’s as a whole,’” he insisted in a statement released by his office.

“Cityhood sponsor Tucker disagreed: ‘The county would own all the land. They wouldn’t lose out on any lease,’” he said.

“Had the supervisors succeeded last week, efforts by Tucker and his allies would have been short-circuited.

“With the Legislature hours from ending its two-year session last Friday, Dana, Antonovich and Schabarum solicited the help of Los Angeles County lawmakers. Supervisor Ed Edelman said he did not even know about the effort and he did not think it had come up for a board vote,” reported the Times article.

“According to a Senate Democratic caucus analysis, the bill was designed to ensure that new cities have adequate tax bases.

“Legislative staffers suggested that one way to ensure enough tax revenues would be to include 926 acres of land owned by the Summa Corp. between Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey. Summa plans a huge residential and commercial development there called Playa Vista.

“Last week the Hughes estate agreed to give the state 73 acres of land east of Lincoln Boulevard as part of the settlement of the eight-year battle over Hughes inheritance taxes.”

The Times article continues, “The land, valued at a minimum of $75 million, is part of the Playa Vista development.

“Both the state and Summa would like the entire development annexed to the City of Los Angeles so the land could be served by the city’s water and sewer systems.

“‘We would much rather (have the land) be part of the City of Los Angeles,’” said John Jervis, a spokesman for Controller Kenneth Cory, who arranged the settlement with the Hughes estate.”

Gladstone’s Times article continued, “Benell said neither Los Angeles nor Summa has formally applied for the annexation. But the Playa Vista plans could be jeopardized if the Hughes property were included in the proposed city of Marina del Rey.”

« Last Edit: August 30, 2010, 04:35PM by cho »
A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are for.

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History of Marina- Argonaut series #8
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2010, 04:27PM »
Looking back at how the Marina was created: Part XVI
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/07/15/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt
BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 3:04 PM PDT)

Part XVI of the Marina del Rey history addresses the delay of a rent decontrol plan by Marina boaters and the purchase of marina sites by then state Sen. Alan Robbins and two partners.

Part XV reviewed local residents’ attempts at cityhood for Marina del Rey because of escalating rental prices for apartments and boat slips at the time.

In a Sept. 16, 1984 Los Angeles Times article titled “Marina Boaters Delay Rent Decontrol Plan,” reporter James Rainey wrote, “Marina del Rey boat owners succeeded last week in delaying a move by the Los Angeles County Small Craft Harbor Commission that would decontrol rents on all 6,500 boat slips in the Marina for four years.

“A change considered by the commission would have granted a 10-percent slip rental increase this year and each of the next three years before allowing rents to hit the fair-market level in 1988.

“A vote was put off until the commission’s Oct. 10 meeting after boat owners protested that decontrol could force them out of the Marina.

The Times article continues, “Victor Adorian, executive director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors, backed the increase as a way to raise revenue. Under the plan, a formula used since 1981 to determine slip rates in the Marina would be dropped.

“The formula, based on the consumer price index and rental rates at other Southern California marinas, has allowed slip rents to jump this year to an average of $6.50 per foot of boat length per month from $3.95 in 1981, a 64 percent increase.

“Although many boaters consider those increases high, they are even more fearful of decontrol. Uncontrolled slips in Newport Bay rent for as much as $11.84 per foot, nearly double the rate in the Marina,” stated the Times article.

“Slip rental rates have long been a point of contention in the Marina, with boaters, anchorage operators and county officials taking conflicting positions.

“The county receives 20 percent of the revenue from slip rentals and stands to gain substantially more money if market rates prevail. The Marina is expected to collect $11.5 million this year in rent from apartment and anchorage operators, but just $6 million will be used for operating expenses, leaving $5.5 million for the county general fund.”

Rainey’s Times article continued, “Estimates have not been made of how much the county would profit under decontrol. Anchorage operators who lease from the county said profits are being unfairly limited and they want slip rates to increase to the market level immediately, not after four years.

“But activists in the boating community said the rates should be controlled because the Marina is owned by the county and was built for the benefit of county residents, not to maximize profits for anchorage operators.

“The boaters reason that because the state Coastal Commission limits construction of new slips up and down the coast, rents must also be controlled so they will not soar out of reach of the average boat owner.

“‘If this (decontrol) proposal goes through, I would say the prices here will be within 10 percent or 15 percent of what they are paying in Newport,’ said boater Chris Warner. ‘And there is no place else to go to get a slip.’”

“Warner pays $567 a month to live aboard his 53-foot boat, the Panther, in the Dolphin Marina, one of 17 anchorages in Marina del Rey. He paid $119.25 when he moved in 10 years ago (Liveaboard rates are higher than standard slip rental rates),” the Times article reported.

“John Hjorth, a member of the Pioneer Skippers Association, said his slip provides an example of increasing slip rates. When he came to the Marina in 1964 he paid $43.75 per month for a 35-foot slip. Today he pays $308.25 per month for a 45-foot slip.

“Ronald Rouda, a lawyer for the 1,000-member association, said profit figures should be made public to determine if operators are making ‘a fair and reasonable return on investment’ as called for in the Marina’s master lease.

The Times article continued, “The harbor department has refused to publicize profit figures for individual anchorage operators. But Eric Bourdon, assistant director of the department, said the figures are monitored by the department and show operators make ‘an acceptable rate of return’ on their investment.”

“Gross profits from slip and apartment rentals in 1982 rose from 31 to 63 percent, according to reports from the operators, Bourdon said. Those returns are comparable to similar businesses, according to reports from the Institute of Real Estate Management, Bourdon said.

“Rouda said boat owners object to operators, rather than the county, getting most of the profits from slip rentals. He suggested renegotiated leases that give the county more than 20 percent.

The Times article reported, “Leases with anchorage operators are subject to renegotiation after 20 years and 15 are being renegotiated. The county believes it should get 25 percent of the revenue from slip rentals, according to Bourdon.

“But even with renegotiations, harbor department officials insist that the fair level for slip rentals should be determined by the open market.

“Pointing to the construction and planning for 3,700 new slips in Long Beach, Ventura, Channel Islands Harbor and Marina del Rey, Victor Adorian, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, said the Southern California shortage has been ‘substantially abated.’ Because the market is more open, he said, decontrol of prices is reasonable,” stated the Times article.

SEN. ROBBINS AND TWO PARTNERS BUY MARINA LEASES —

In an Oct. 7, 1984 Los Angeles Times article titled, “Robbins, 2 Partners to Buy Marina Sites,” reporters Rainey and Mark Gladstone reported, “State Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys) and two partners plan to jointly purchase two Marina del Rey complexes for nearly $37 million in the Marina’s first major lease sale in three years.

“Two partnerships, one controlled by Robbins, are buying the leases at the Bar Harbor and Deauville marinas. The Los Angeles County Small Craft Harbor Commission, which oversees operations in the Marina, was scheduled to review the proposed purchase and pass on its recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.”

The Times article continues, “Officials of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors have recommended that the commission approve the sale of leases to one partnership headed by Robbins and another formed by Selden Ring and his son, Doug.

“Each partnership will own 50 percent of the joint venture, said Adorian. But Robbins said that ‘the bulk of the cash obligation’ for the purchase will come from the Rings’ partnership.

“The joint venture plans to buy two leaseholds, which are among 55 in the Marina. They were developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s between the county and private firms. The leases run for 60 years, but the terms are renegotiated after 20 years.

The Times article continued, “The county receives more than $10 million a year in revenues from the Marina.

“County rent controls, which have placed a lid on marina rent increases, are scheduled to expire beginning Jan.1.

“Doug Ring, a former aide to ex-Supervisor Baxter Ward, said the ownership change would not have much impact on rents. He foresees no ‘tremendous’ rent increases for Bar Harbor and Deauville tenants.

“The county has started to renegotiate the Bar Harbor lease but will not begin to renegotiate the Deauville lease until 1990.”

“Robbins, who developed apartment buildings before his election to the Senate and remains an active investor in real estate, said projections show the acquisition will not make money for several years,” according to the Times article

“Once the purchase is approved by the supervisors, Robbins and his partners are obligated to pay current leaseholder A.C. Black, one of the original developers of the apartments and slips, the entire purchase price of $36,950,000.

“Of the total, $18,675,000 is for the Deauville Marina, a complex of 120 apartments, 500 boats slips and the Captains Wharf restaurant at the end of Marquesas Way. The remaining $18,275,000 is for Bar Harbor, which includes 288 apartments, 253 boat slips and the Benihana of Tokyo restaurant at Via Marina and Panay Way.”

The Times article reported, “Last month, county supervisors approved a plan for further development on both leaseholds.”

Looking back on how the Marina was created: Part XVII
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/07/22/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt
BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:47 PM PDT)

Part XVII of the Marina del Rey history series addresses the continuing battle for Marina del Rey cityhood by local residents and boat owners at the time.

The drive for cityhood began in October 1984 and was sourced in the Marina del Rey history Part XV.

Part XVI reviewed the delay of a rent decontrol plan by Marina boaters and the purchase of Marina sites by then state Sen. Alan Robbins and two partners, Selden and Doug Ring.

A Feb. 3, 1985 Los Angeles Times Westside Zones Desk section article titled, “Marina Cityhood Takes First Steps,” stated that “Marina del Rey is on its way to becoming an incorporated city. First steps were taken by the Marina Cityhood Association in October 1984, when it filed for municipal incorporation with the secretary of state.”

“‘The people of Marina del Rey,’ said association President Hy Tucker, ‘want a choice in the decisions that affect their economic and political security.’ Leading the list of issues that concern them is the exorbitant rents now being charged to many boat and apartment dwellers,” stated the Times article.

“An informational letter from the Marina Cityhood Association to all Marina residents is now being prepared.

“‘We hope everyone will take the time to read this letter,’ said association Vice President LaVaun Vawter, ‘for only through widespread renter cooperation can the cityhood drive succeed. Our first letter, which addresses itself to rental living costs, apartment maintenance and special fees, is of vital importance to everyone in the Marina.’”

The Times article continued, “Discussions are now under way between the Marina Cityhood Association and attorney Alan Rader, who successfully piloted the West Hollywood cityhood drive.

“‘We feel that Mr. Rader knows what he is doing; he has already done it for West Hollywood and we want to follow essentially the same course of action,’ said Marshall Peters, legal and financial chairman of the association. ‘The tax base of this growing community, with its hotels, restaurants and thriving businesses is more than adequate to provide essential services to a city.’”

“Not everyone agrees with Peters’ assessment, however, and prominent among the probable opposition are two members of LAFCO (the Local Agency Formation Commission), the commission appointed by the county Board of Supervisors to report on the advisability of cityhood. Three of the commission members are Supervisors Mike Antonovich, Deane Dana and Pete Schabarum,” states the Times article.

“Antonovich, Dana and Schabarum are probable opponents of cityhood on the grounds that Marina del Rey will not generate an adequate tax base. Staff consultant to the commission is Ruth Benell. A feasibility study is being conducted under the direction of Miss Benell.

“‘We were originally promised by Miss Benell that the study would be completed in December,’ said Tucker, ‘but when we requested the report in December we were told that LAFCO was waiting for technical and advisory reports by state agencies in Sacramento.’”

The Times article continues, “Based on the report, LAFCO will advise the Board of Supervisors whether the Marina is financially and economically ready to be incorporated as a city.

“‘The action we will take toward cityhood will be determined by the outcome of the feasibility study,’ Tucker continued, ‘The overwhelming majority of Marina residents favor this move but we need their support right now. They’ll find out all about our position and the action we’ve already taken in the letter they’ll receive.’”
« Last Edit: August 30, 2010, 04:32PM by cho »
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History of Marina- Argonaut series #9
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2010, 04:27PM »
Looking back on how the Marina was created: Part XVIII

BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 2:03 PM PDT)

Part XVIII of the Marina del Rey history series continues to address the fight for cityhood by local residents and boaters at the time.

The drive for Marina cityhood that began in October 1984 was sourced in Part XV of the history series and continued in Part XVII.

In a March 14, 1985 Los Angeles Times article titled, “Bill Would Bar Cityhood for Marina,” reporter Mark Gladstone wrote, “For the second time in less than a year, a legislative attempt has been launched that could block Marina del Rey residents from forming their own city.

“A bill, introduced by Sen. William Lockyer (D-Hayward), would prevent residents from taking preliminary steps toward incorporation in areas where less than 50 percent of the land is privately owned. Marina del Rey, an 800-acre waterfront community with at least 8,500 residents, is almost entirely owned by Los Angeles County.”

The Times article continued, “Lockyer said he understood that the measure was given to his office by Los Angeles County officials concerned about cityhood in the Marina. He emphasized, however, that he also is interested in the broader issue of whether large chunks of public land should be turned into cities elsewhere in the state.

“‘There shouldn’t be new cities that are 50 percent or more public property,’ asserted Lockyer, who was elected to the Senate in 1982 and chairs the Judiciary Committee.

“County officials say they have had nothing to do with the Lockyer bill. One high-ranking county official said the measure is being pushed by a Marina developer, whom he declined to identify,” reported the Times article.

“Supervisor Deane Dana, who represents the Marina area, said he backs the measure, though he was not aware of it until early this week. He contended that if Marina del Rey was incorporated, county residents could be deprived of some of the benefits of using county-owned facilities.

“‘I don’t want the county to lose the Marina,’ Dana said.”

“Dana said he learned about Lockyer’s bill when Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), who represents the Marina area, called him to ask if the county had requested that it be introduced.”

The Times article continues, “Lockyer’s bill is similar to a proposal put forth by the conservative majority on the Board of Supervisors in the final days of the legislative session last summer. The proposal died before being formally introduced.

“That effort was made as a cityhood drive by Marina residents was getting off the ground. The cityhood campaign was triggered by fears that rents will skyrocket as county rent controls are phased out this year.

“Watson speculated that the rent-control issue may be the motivation behind Lockyer’s bill.

“‘I think they’re (county officials) trying to secure that there be no rent control affecting Marina del Rey. That’s my gut, knee-jerk reaction to it,’ Watson said,” reported the Times article.

“She said she plans to watch the course of the bill and may ask Lockyer to drop it. ‘I think it’s peculiar he would carry a bill for our county and not even touch base with us (Watson and Assemblywoman Gwen Moore, a Los Angeles Democrat).’

“Moore, who also represents the Marina, said that since the incorporation drive appears to have slowed she is not sure whether the threat of cityhood is real. But she said the Lockyer bill would not be in the best interests of her constituents,” according to the article.

“The cityhood drive became public last summer when Marina residents asked the county Local Agency Formation Commission to conduct a feasibility study of the cityhood idea. The study, originally expected to be finished last year, now is expected to be completed within several weeks, said Ruth Benell, the commission’s executive officer.”

The Times article continues, “Upon completion of the study, cityhood backers may file a formal petition, including detailed maps and signatures of 25 percent of the Marina’s registered voters. If the papers are filed, the commission will have to decide whether to place the issue on the ballot.

“Benell has said that she doubts that the Marina has an adequate tax base to support a city.”

In a May 16, 1985 Los Angeles Times article, “Marina Fight Shifts to New Front,” reporter Gladstone wrote that the California state Senate panel was debating a bill that could block incorporation.

Gladstone wrote, “The battle lines were clear. On one side were Marina landlords and county officials backing the bill. On the other were Marina tenants seeking cityhood and Sen. Watson and Assemblywoman Moore, whose districts included the Marina.

“Meanwhile, a tenants’ group called Marina del Rey Cityhood Inc. announced that it has obtained more than double the 1,400 signatures of registered voters needed for the Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Commission to consider putting incorporation on the ballot.

“Hy Tucker, president of the group, said that more than 3,000 signatures have been collected. But he cautioned that they must still be certified by the county registrar-recorder’s office before the commission can proceed.”

The Times article continues, “In March, the commission’s director issued a preliminary report that said a new city in the Marina would lose nearly $2 million in its first year of operation.

“At the center of the dispute on the Lockyer measure is a provision that would prevent incorporations in areas where less than 50 percent of the land is privately held,” according to the article.

“In the 1,700-acre waterfront community of Marina del Rey, the county owns slightly more than half of the land and, in turn, leases it to developers for boat slips, hotels and apartments.

“Lockyer argued that he introduced the bill because of his concern that cities with more than 50 percent public land are not ‘economically viable.’”

The Times article continues, “Under those circumstances, he contended, there could be ‘a potential for little rotten boroughs that get created that way.’

“Lockyer, who has not been to the Marina, said he did not intend to have the bill focus on ‘local squabbles’ such as Marina del Rey cityhood.

“Nonetheless, Lockyer dropped another part of the bill on annexation after a dispute arose in his Northern California district. The provision would have blocked annexations unless at least 50 percent of the affected land is privately owned. After the bill was changed, a vote was delayed for a week.”

In a June 21, 1985 Los Angeles Times article titled “Marina Bill Becomes Political Hot Potato,” Gladstone wrote, “A controversial bill that could block a drive to incorporate Marina del Rey has abruptly gained a new author and turned into a political hot potato.

“First, Sen. Bill Lockyer (D-Hayward), who pushed the bill through the Local Government Committee and onto the Senate floor last month, dropped his proposal, citing ‘in-house wrangling.’

“Then, lobbyists for the Marina del Rey Lessees Association, a major backer of the bill, persuaded Sen. Joseph B. Montoya (D-Whittier) to step in to carry it. But Montoya said he was uncertain when he would seek passage.

The Times article continued, “Since taking over the bill, Montoya said he has been approached by two colleagues who are concerned about the measure. One, Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys), who purchased a portion of two Marina leaseholds last year, expressed concern that the bill could hurt him politically, Montoya said. And Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) was equally disturbed that Montoya was carrying a bill that affects her district.

“Lockyer introduced the measure early this year, proposing that areas containing more than 50 percent public land be barred from incorporating because they would not have an adequate tax base to support city services. Although the bill does not name the Marina, Lockyer has talked about how the measure could short-circuit cityhood for the 803-acre enclave of county-owned land,” the article reported.

“At the heart of the issue is whether Marina residents will be able to continue their cityhood drive after Jan. 1, when the bill would take effect if passed by both houses and signed by the governor. Cityhood supporters have gathered more than 1,400 signatures of registered voters in an attempt to place the issue on the ballot.”

The Times article continues, “Watson, who has not taken a stand on Marina incorporation, has been a leading opponent of the measure. In the past she has said, ‘To impose a state solution to a local problem is unjust.’

“Robbins repeatedly has denied any role in the proposal. The senator [Montoya] said he has been told ‘by at least one colleague that he was urged to vote for the bill on the basis that to do so would score points with Robbins.’ The San Fernando Valley lawmaker insisted that he has not been involved in lobbying for the bill and said he had underscored that point to his colleagues.

“’I’ve fully complied with disclosure laws that indicate I have an interest,’ Robbins added. ‘I’ve made it clear I’m going to abstain.’”

The Times article continued, “Last year, Robbins and his partners, including Los Angeles lawyer Doug Ring and his father Selden Ring, bought leaseholds for Deauville and Bar Harbor marinas valued at $36.9 million.

“The Rings have hired Jerry Zanelli, a Sacramento lobbyist and former executive officer of the Senate Rules Committee, to watch out for their interests in Sacramento. Zanelli also represents other Marina landlords.

“But in an interview, Doug Ring insisted that the family had not talked to Robbins about the bill, ‘And I honestly believe that to do so would be inappropriate,’” said Ring.


Looking back on how the Marina was created: Part XIX

BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 4:06 PM PDT)
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/08/05/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt
Part XIX of the Marina del Rey history series continues to address the fight for cityhood by local residents and boaters at the time.

The drive for Marina cityhood began in October 1984 and was first sourced by the series in Part XV and continued in Parts XVII and XVIII.

In a June 28, 1985 Los Angeles Times article titled “Marina Cityhood Hits Roadblock in Capitol,” reporter Mark Gladstone wrote, “After an especially bitter debate, the state Senate narrowly passed a controversial bill that could short-circuit a drive to incorporate Los Angeles County-owned Marina del Rey.

“The action capped months of fierce lobbying, which pitted Marina landlords, fearful that cityhood would result in tough rent controls, against Marina tenants, who contend they want to have direct control over their waterfront community.

“The bill by Sen. Joseph Montoya (D-Whittier) was approved on a 22-11 vote — one more vote than the simple majority required — and sent to the state Assembly where another tough fight is expected.”

The Times article continued, “Opponents said that while the bill did not cite the Marina by name, it clearly was aimed at the area. Montoya’s proposal would prevent any area in the state with more than 50 percent of its land in public ownership from becoming a city.

“The county-owned 804-acre Marina, with boat slips and apartments is wedged between Venice and Playa del Rey. It enjoys the image of an affluent oceanfront community for young professionals.

“One of the leaseholders is a partnership that includes Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys). Robbins was not present during the debate and did not vote. He previously said he would abstain because it would be a conflict of interest for him to vote on the measure,” stated the Times

article.

“In addition to the Marina del Rey Lessees Association, the bill was backed by Los Angeles County and the Marina del Rey Chamber of Commerce. It was opposed by the League of California Cities and tenant groups. The incorporation drive was started last year by a tenants group called Marina del Rey Cityhood Inc., according to the article.”

“A preliminary staff review of the proposal issued by the Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Commission said a new city with more than 10,000 Marina residents would face a first-year deficit of nearly $2 million because it would not raise sufficient tax revenues.”

The Times story continues, “The raucous Senate debate focused on the impact Montoya’s bill would have on the Marina and whether Montoya should carry a measure affecting the district of another lawmaker, in this case Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles).”

In a September 13, 1985 Los Angeles Times article titled, “Assembly OKs Bill to Impede Marina del Rey Cityhood Drive,” Gladstone wrote, “a measure that would make it harder for the 10,000 residents of Marina del Rey to form their own city and impose rent controls was approved by the Assembly by a 48-19 vote.

“But final passage was threatened by a dispute between the bill’s author, Sen. Joseph Montoya (D-Whittier), and Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco).

“Unless it can be ironed out today before the lawmakers go home for the year, Montoya said, he will shelve the bill until January.

“The flap revolved around a landlord-backed amendment that Montoya wanted to insert into his bill that would make it even tougher for Marina residents to form their own city,” stated the Times article.

“In a Senate speech, Montoya assailed Brown for refusing to relax Assembly rules so the bill could be amended in the Assembly. Minutes later, Montoya, Brown and Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) and other lawmakers huddled to thrash out the issue.

“Afterward, Brown insisted that if an attempt was made to amend the Montoya bill or any other legislation he would postpone action until next year. ‘There’ll be no more quick shots for anybody,’ said Brown.

“Under current law, the commission must receive petitions from Marina residents calling for cityhood and then decide if it’s economically feasible.”

The Times story continued, “The Los Angeles commission staff has preliminarily said the proposed city would face a first-year deficit of nearly $2 million.”

“Even so, Marina landlords sought tougher amendments that would have required a vote on Marina cityhood in all unincorporated areas of the county and allow Marina cityhood campaigns only once a decade. After Brown’s meeting with Montoya, the amendments were not introduced.

“Supporters of the bill contended that if the Marina were allowed to become a city, then residents, almost all of whom are renters, would impose rent controls and limit the amount of lease payments the county collects.

“Assemblyman Gray Davis (D-Los Angeles) argued that the county should have the right to develop these assets without being threatened with cityhood.”

In an Oct. 13, 1985 Los Angeles Times article titled “Bill to Derail Marina del Rey Cityhood Drive Signed Into Law,” Gladstone wrote, “Gov. George Deukmejian signed into law Wednesday night a controversial measure aimed at short-circuiting a tenant-led drive to turn Marina del Rey into a city that landlords fear would adopt rent controls.

“The new statute set a Feb. 15 deadline for filing incorporation papers. Currently there is no deadline. Cityhood supporters have maintained they will meet the deadline, forcing the Los Angeles Local Agency Formation Commission to decide whether the city would be economically feasible. Earlier this year, the commission staff issued a preliminary report asserting that the county-owned Marina would not have the tax base to support a city.”

The Times article continued, “A favorable ruling by the commission would have paved the way for an incorporation election in the Marina.

“But Hy Tucker, president of Marina del Rey Cityhood Inc., said cityhood has gained momentum because of the controversy surrounding the legislation, carried by Sen. Joseph Montoya (D-Whittier).

“‘We’re getting a lot more people coming out of the woodwork because they feel the bill in itself favors the lessees (Marina landlords) who had the bill introduced,’ said Tucker.

“In particular, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors could derail the cityhood drive merely by objecting to the submission of cityhood petitions to the Local Agency Formation Commission,” according to the article.

“The board, which supported the legislation, contended that the proposed city would enact rent controls and, in turn, limit county revenues from Marina leases.

“The 804-acre Marina, once a marshy stretch of coast between Playa del Rey and Venice, has become a major tourist attraction as well as home to about 10,000 residents, more than half of whom are executives or professionals.”

The Times article continues,

“Los Angeles lawyer Doug Ring, whose father, Selden Ring, is a major Marina leaseholder, explained that, among other things, landlords were afraid cityhood would lead to tough rent controls because most of the area’s voters are tenants.

[Doug Ring and his father Selden became partners with Sen. Alan Robbins in the Deauville and Bar Harbor marinas.]

“Initially, the bill would have prevented the cityhood drive from continuing after Jan. 1. But in a compromise, landlords agreed to extend the deadline to Feb. 15.

“‘Obviously, we got something less than we would have hoped to have seen, but that is the legislative process,’ Ring said.”

“The Times article continues, “Cityhood supporter Hy Tucker said his group will attempt to have the county expand the cityhood study area beyond the general boundaries of the Marina to include another 800 acres of vacant land between the Marina and Playa del Rey.

“The land, owned by Howard Hughes Properties Ltd., is the site of a proposed $1 billion development known as Playa Vista.”


« Last Edit: August 30, 2010, 04:30PM by cho »
A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are for.

cho

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History of Marina- Argonaut series #10
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2010, 04:28PM »
Looking back on how the Marina was created: Part XX
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/08/12/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt
BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, August 11, 2010 3:51 PM PDT)

Part XX of the Marina history series concludes the coverage of the fight for Marina del Rey cityhood by local residents and boaters at the time.

The drive for cityhood began in October 1984 and was first sourced by the series in Part XV and continued in Parts XVII, XVIII and XIX.

In a Dec. 26, 1985 Los Angeles Times article titled “Marina Tenants File Bid to Place Cityhood on Ballot,” reporter James Rainey wrote, “Tenants who hope to form a city in Marina del Rey have filed petitions asking the county to put the incorporation question on the ballot.

“Leaders of Marina del Rey Cityhood Inc. presented more than 1,700 signatures to Ruth Benell, director of the Los Angeles County local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO).

“Marina del Rey activists said more than a year ago that they hoped to form their own city so they could impose a rent control law to replace the county ordinance that expired this year. Reducing crime and limiting high-rise development are also factors in the incorporation drive, organizers say.

The Times article continued, “The proposal has drawn opposition from powerful political and business interests, including the county Board of Supervisors and Marina landlords. The conservative majority of the Board of Supervisors supported a bill in the state Legislature that would have stopped the cityhood effort. An amended law eventually passed, allowing cityhood proponents to proceed without restrictions as long as they filed petitions before Feb. 15, 1986.

“Monday’s filing means that the required 1,400 signatures — equal to one-fourth of the registered voters in the Marina — should be verified by the county registrar’s office before the deadline.

“Three months after verification, the county commission will conduct a public hearing and then vote on the cityhood proposal. If the commission approves the plan, the Board of Supervisors must place incorporation on the ballot,” stated the Times article.

“Benell estimated that next November would be the earliest the question could be put to a vote in the Marina.

“But securing approval from LAFCO will be difficult. Two members of the seven-member commission, Supervisors Pete Schabarum and Mike Antonovich, already have said they oppose incorporation. Approval requires a simple majority. And Benell in March issued a preliminary report that said a city of Marina del Rey would lose nearly $2 million in its first year of operation.

“Cityhood proponents hope to disqualify Schabarum and Antonovich from the LAFCO vote. They said a conflict-of-interest law prohibits commission members from voting on an issue if they have received political contributions of $250 or more from people who are affected by their decisions,” according to the Times article.

“Both Schabarum and Antonovich have received such contributions from Marina landlords and should be barred from the incorporation vote, cityhood opponents said. But the county counsel said the state law does not apply to LAFCO and that the supervisors will be allowed to vote.

“Benell’s preliminary report showed that the city would bring in $3.5 million but spend $5.4 million in its first year. Benell said nothing has changed to turn the study in favor of cityhood.

“‘I think the preliminary report was based on sound figures,’ she said. ‘I don’t anticipate finding $2 million more in revenue to offset the expenses the city will have.’”

The Times article continues, “Hy Tucker, the president of the cityhood group, said the organization plans to present a study of its own that will show that a city of Marina del Rey would collect enough money to pay for services. The study, which will cost about $25,000, will be completed by Christenson & Wallace, an Oceanside firm that has written similar reports for Isla Vista and Mammoth Lakes.

“Cityhood supporter Stuart Simon said the county report greatly underestimated money the city would make on parking and traffic citations and bed taxes from two luxury hotels under construction.

“Simon said the report also overstated costs, especially the $3.6 million price tag for police enforcement on land and in the small craft harbor.

“Cityhood backers said the boundaries of Marina del Rey should include the 800-acre Marina with its 5,800 apartments and 6,000 boat slips, and 900 acres to the south where the Summa Corp. plans to build a huge, $1 billion planned community called Playa Vista,” stated the Times article.

“The county, however, has already given preliminary approval to the city of Los Angeles to annex the southern portion. The open fields are owned almost entirely by Summa, and the firm’s officials say they want their development to be part of the city of Los Angeles.

“The powerful opponents claim that cityhood is merely a device to extend rent control, which expired in Marina del Rey and other unincorporated parts of the county this year.

The Times article continued, “Tucker admitted that rent control is important to Marina residents, many of whom were hit with large rent increases after controls expired. But he said increases in crime and high-rise development also concern them.”

[Los Angeles Times reporter Judy Pasternak wrote two articles about LAFCO’s decision on Marina cityhood. The first article, dated March 13, 1986 was titled, “LAFCO Report Urges Denial of Marina Vote on Cityhood.” The second article, dated March 27, 1986 was titled “LAFCO Blocks Vote; Marina Bid on Cityhood Rejected.”]

The following information is from two abstracts of Pasternak’s articles:

On March 13, 1986, Times reporter Pasternak wrote, “Ruth Benell also wrote that the cityhood campaign is based solely on the hope that rent control would be imposed after incorporation. She wrote that ‘rent control in and of itself is not sufficient justification for the incorporation of a city.’”

“On March 26, commissioners will conduct a public hearing on cityhood supporters’ application to incorporate. If commissioners approve the application, the Board of Supervisors must set an election. If commissioners deny it, as recommended, cityhood backers will have no recourse but the courts.

The Times article continues, “Benell’s conclusions did not surprise cityhood backers, who forced the study by submitting 468 voters’ signatures last month.”

[Submitted signatures actually numbered 1,700, but the required minimum amount was 1,400. After required certification of the voters’ signatures by the county registrar, the number may have officially dropped to 1,468.]

In Times reporter Pasternak’s March 27, 1986 article she wrote, “Cityhood backers said the commission action will not end their campaign to incorporate the Marina. ‘The issues are still there and we will continue forward in our quest,’ said Simon, a director of Marina del Rey Cityhood Inc.

“Future efforts to form a city of Marina del Rey would face even more obstacles than this one has. The incorporation group gathered its signatures just before new rules took effect governing cityhood in areas where more than 50 percent of the land is publicly owned. The legislation that Gov. (George) Deukmejian signed last October, allows the county Board of Supervisors to derail a cityhood attempt in such cases merely by objecting to the state commission.”

The Times article continued, “Hy Tucker, president of the cityhood group, said he had expected the commission’s denial, despite his plea for a postponement. Tucker and consultant Fred Christianson told the commission they had not been able to get enough information to complete an analysis of the finances of a city of Marina del Rey.”


Looking back on how the Marina was created: Part XXI

http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/08/19/columns/helga_gendell/hg1.txt

BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 4:52 PM PDT)

Part XXI of the Marina del Rey history series addresses the business ties and ultimate legal ramifications affecting two California state senators at the time and a Beverly Hills real estate investor who was then a member of the California Coastal Commission and the county Small Craft Harbor Commission.

In an Oct. 7, 1984 Los Angeles Times article, reporters James Rainey and Mark Gladstone wrote that state Sen. Alan Robbins and two partners � Doug Ring and his father Selden Ring � jointly purchased two Marina del Rey complexes for nearly $37 million. Each partnership was to own 50 percent of the joint venture, but the “bulk of the cash operation” for the purchase would come from Doug and Selden Ring, according to the Times article.

The Robbins/Ring purchase of Bar Harbor and the Deauville Marina complexes was sourced in Part XVI of the Marina history series.

In June 1985, state Sen. Joe Montoya, a Democrat from Whittier, was handed a “political hot potato,” according to a Los Angeles Times article by reporter Gladstone, when lobbyists for the Marina del Rey Lessees Association persuaded Montoya to step in and carry a bill to block the drive to incorporate Marina del Rey after Sen. Bill Lockyer dropped his proposal because of “in-house wrangling.”

Montoya’s involvement was sourced in Part XVIII of the Marina history series.

Mark Nathanson was a Beverly Hills real estate investor and, at the time, a member of both the California Coastal Commission and Small Craft Harbor Commission.

In a Nov. 13, 1986 Los Angeles Times article titled “Ex-Member of Watchdog Panel Pays Fine of $13,400 for Not Listing Business Ties,” reporter Paul Jacobs wrote, “A politically well-connected Los Angeles real estate investor, Mark Nathanson, was fined $13,400 for failing to disclose millions of dollars in business interests while serving as a member of the watchdog Little Hoover Commission between 1983 and 1985.

“Nathanson agreed to pay the fine after admitting to what investigators of the state Fair Political Practices Commission called �repeated and wholesale omissions’ from his required financial disclosure statements.”

The Times article continued, “Appointed in January to the state Coastal Commission by Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco), Nathanson in a written statement said he paid little attention to conflict-of-interest statements that he was required to file as a Little Hoover Commission member, �because I assumed no one would care. Obviously, having just paid over $13,000 in fines n I was wrong.’”

“Each year, public officials are required to file reports in which they disclose their economic holdings and sources of income as evidence that they are not profiting from their positions in government.

“Nathanson accused the Fair Political Practices Commission of using his case �to send a message to everyone who has to file,’ and described the fine as �excessive’ because there was �no hint of a conflict of interest’ uncovered by the commission’s investigators,” stated the Times article.

“Nathanson earlier this year told investigators that he found the economic disclosure statements �terribly boring and useless,’ according to a commission staff report.

“As a condition of the settlement, Nathanson is required to amend a series of economic disclosure statements he had filed as a member of the Little Hoover Commission. A spokeswoman for the Fair Political Practices commission said she was unaware of any problems with the documents that Nathanson, as a Coastal Commission member, has filed more recently.”

Jacobs’ Times article continues, “Former Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. appointed Nathanson in 1983 to the Little Hoover Commission, an unpaid panel charged with investigating the efficiency of government agencies. He stepped down in November 1985.

“Several years earlier, in 1977, members of that commission had refused to reveal their incomes, arguing that the economic disclosure requirements of the Political Reform Act did not apply to them. However, the courts ruled otherwise, settling the issue long before Nathanson was appointed,” according to the Times article.

In an Aug. 7, 1988 Los Angeles Times article (Westside Zones Desk) titled, “Marina del Rey Disputes Over Mall Settled,” it stated that “The battle of the malls in the Marina del Rey area has apparently ended, with one development company conceding and selling its property to another developer who has said he will build a primarily residential project.

“Marina East Holding Partnership, of which state Sen. Robbins and developer Brandon Birtcher are principal partners, has reached an agreement to sell a 16-acre site at Lincoln Boulevard and Admiralty Way to the J.H. Snyder Co.

“Snyder Co. holds the master lease on the Marina City Club condominiums in Marina del Rey and is building the Water Garden office project in Santa Monica.”

The Times article continued, “No details of the sale were announced, but the land is estimated to be worth about $45 million. Marina East Partnership was in a race with Prudential Property Co. to build a mall the size of the Westside Pavilion on separate lots less than a mile apart. But Marina East apparently gave up on its plans after the City Council in Culver City last month gave its approval for the other mall, which is to be on an 18-acre site on Washington Boulevard near Lincoln Boulevard.

“Nearby residents and Los Angeles Councilwoman Ruth Galanter had opposed the Marina East proposal because of potential traffic and parking problems and favored residential development.”

The Times article described the property sold to Snyder as “The roughly trapezoidal-shaped parcel, known as Admiralty Place, bounded by Lincoln Boulevard, Admiralty Way and Maxella Avenue, at the end of the Marina Freeway.”

Looking back on how the Marina was created: Part XXII
http://www.argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/08/26/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt

BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Thursday, August 26, 2010 9:06 AM PDT)

Part XXII of the Marina history series continues to address the business ties and legal problems at the time affecting state Sens. Alan Robbins and Joe Montoya, and Mark Nathanson, a Beverly Hills real estate investor and member of both the California Coastal Commission and the county Small Craft Harbor Commission.

Part XXI introduced the three individuals and their relationship to Marina del Rey.

Montoya had been handed a political “hot potato” in June 1985 according to the Los Angeles Times when lobbyists for the then Marina del Rey Lessees Association persuaded him to step in and carry a bill to block the drive to incorporate Marina del Rey.

Nathanson had paid a fine of $13,400 for failing to disclose millions of dollars in business interests while serving as a member of the Little Hoover Commission between 1983 and 1985, according to the Los Angeles Times. He had agreed to pay the fine after what the state Fair Political Practices Commission called “repeated and wholesale omission” from his required financial disclosure statements, noted the Los Angeles Times.

In August 1988, Robbins and Brandon Birtcher, principal partners in Marina East Holding Partnership, reached an agreement to sell a 16-acre site at Lincoln Boulevard and Admiralty Way to the J.H. Snyder Co.

In a March 31, 1989 Los Angeles Times article titled “U.S. Agents Search Capitol Lobby Firm in Montoya Inquiry,” reporter Paul Jacobs wrote, “Widening their investigation of state Sen. Joseph B. Montoya (D-Whittier), federal agents armed with a warrant searched the offices of a politically well-connected lobbying firm, the owner of the firm confirmed.

“The investigators n five from the FBI and one from the Internal Revenue Service n searched the files of Governmental Advocates, Inc. for more than four hours. The agents were seeking evidence of possible violations of federal extortion, racketeering and conspiracy laws, according to the search warrant, which listed a series of special-interest bills that either had been authored by Montoya or had moved through the Senate committee he chairs,” the Times article reported.

“Several of the measures affected clients of Governmental Advocates lobbyist Jerry Zanelli and the firm’s owner, Hedy Govenar. Zanelli, a longtime friend of Montoya, is the former chief executive officer of the Senate. He has strong ties to top Democratic legislative leaders, including Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti of Los Angeles,” stated the Times article.

“There was no indication that either Zanelli or Govenar is a target of the FBI’s investigation.

“However, several sources familiar with the federal investigation said Montoya is one of the principal subjects of the three-year inquiry into political corruption in the Capitol called Brispec (for bribery n special interest). The investigation came to light last August when FBI agents raided the offices of Montoya, three other legislators and two legislative aides.

“No state official has been charged with a crime, but in recent weeks federal authorities have stepped up their investigation of Montoya and some others, subpoenaing financial records and other documents and interviewing lobbyists and legislative staff, according to sources.”

The Times article continued, “The same sources said they expect the first indictment of a legislator to come in the next several weeks, but they cautioned that public corruption cases are often slowed by unanticipated delays.

“Montoya’s attorney, Michael S. Sands, said he was unaware of the search, �and at this time I have no comment.’

“This week, U.S. Attorney David F. Levi, who heads the investigation, went to federal district court to obtain a warrant to search the files of Zanelli and Govenar, whose office is located across the street from the Capitol. Levi would not comment on the search warrant, which was ordered sealed by the court,” the Times article stated.
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Re: History of Marina- Argonaut series
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2010, 03:10PM »
No wonder the public questions the motives of its public officals and has "great" trust issues with their decisions.

cho

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Re: History of Marina- Argonaut series
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2010, 11:30AM »
Looking back on how the Marina was created: Part XXIII

http://argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/09/02/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt

BY HELGA GENDELL

Part XXIII of the Marina del Rey history series continues with the legal ramifications of then state Sen. Joseph B. Montoya, one of the principal subjects of a three-year FBI inquiry into political corruption in Sacramento called Brispec (Bribery — Special Interest) after FBI agents raided the offices of Montoya, three other legislators and two legislative aides in March 1989.

The search of Montoya’s office was referenced in Part XXII of the Marina history series.

The business ties between Montoya, Sen. Alan Robbins and Mark Nathanson, then a member of the California Coastal Commission and county Small Craft Harbor Commission, were sourced in Part XXI of the history series.

In a June 13, 1989 Los Angeles Times article titled “Sen. Montoya and Former Aide Plead Not Guilty,” reporter Paul Jacobs wrote, “Speaking softly but decisively, state Sen. Joseph B. Montoya (D-Whittier) and his former aide, Amiel A. Jaramillo, pleaded innocent in federal court to charges of using their public offices for extortion and racketeering. After their arraignment together, the two read terse statements expressing confidence that they will ultimately be found not guilty, but they refused to answer questions.

“Surrounded by staff, friends and family, Montoya said he would ‘vigorously defend my innocence during these court proceedings.’”

In a June 15, 1989 Los Angeles Times article titled “Robbins Becomes ‘Subject’ of Capitol Corruption Probe,” reporters Jacobs and Mark Gladstone wrote, “Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Tarzana) has become a subject of the federal grand jury investigation into political corruption at the state Capitol, according to sources familiar with the probe.

“Investigators from the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service have been gathering voluminous records to determine whether a criminal case can be brought against the veteran lawmaker, these sources indicate. Last week, the grand jury subpoenaed files from at least six Senate committees concerning more than 120 bills — more than 50 of which were personally carried by Robbins.”

A June 19, 1989 United Press International article titled “Businessman Tells of Paying $20,000 for Montoya’s Help” states, “A Colorado businessman said he had to pay $20,000 to win passage of a bill authored by state Sen. Joseph B. Montoya (D-Whittier) and also to pay for lavish lunches and a hotel room for a Montoya aide and a ‘lady friend.’ Robin Kearns of Ft. Collins said he later ran out of money and refused to pay a $1,500 monthly retainer to Fred Shanbour, a lobbyist recommended by Montoya.

“As a result, he said, the law he wanted passed is now due to expire in the next two or three years. Kerns and his business partner, C. H. Carter, were flown to Sacramento at government expense and interviewed for more than three hours by an FBI agent and federal prosecutor investigating Montoya and his relationship to various lobbyists.”

In a July 21, 1989 Los Angeles Times article titled “Videotape Shows Sen. Montoya Accepting Check, Lawyer Concedes,” reporter Jacobs wrote, “A crucial videotape to be used in prosecuting Sen. Joseph B. Montoya on federal extortion, racketeering and money-laundering charges shows him accepting a $3,000 check from an undercover FBI agent — a payment made to the senator just for attending the meeting, Montoya’s attorney acknowledged. However, the attorney, Michael S. Sands of Sacramento, contended that the tape will not prove damaging to the Whittier Democrat.”

In an Oct. 11, 1989 Los Angeles Times article titled “New Charges Filed Against Senator, Aide,” Jacobs wrote, “A federal grand jury added four new charges to its original indictment of Sen. Joseph B. Montoya (D-Whittier) and a former top aide, Amiel A. Jaramillo. Montoya will face two charges of bribery in addition to charges of using his office for extortion, racketeering and money laundering that were included in the original indictment filed against the two men last May. Jaramillo has been charged with added counts of extortion and conspiracy.”

In a Nov. 23, 1989 Los Angeles Times article titled “U.S. Memo Says Montoya Demanded ‘Fees’ for Votes,” Jacobs wrote, “Sen. Joseph B. Montoya (D-Whittier) repeatedly and systematically demanded ‘fees for service’ — campaign contributions and honorariums — in exchange for his support of special-interest legislation, federal prosecutors charge in a document filed in U.S. District Court.”

In a Nov. 29, 1989 Los Angeles Times article titled “Guilty Plea Made in Capitol Sting�” Jacobs wrote, “A Republican legislative aide, whose refusal to become an FBI informant in 1988 triggered a raid of Capitol offices, pleaded guilty to extorting $12,500 in payments from an undercover agent on behalf of GOP Assembly members.

“Appearing in U.S. District Court, the aide, 42-year-old Karen Watson, formally agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in their continuing investigation in exchange for reduced charges and a recommendation of leniency in sentencing.”

In a Dec. 5, 1989 Los Angeles Times article titled “Jury Selection Begins in Montoya’s Bribery Trial,” reporter Richard C. Paddock wrote, “Sen. Joseph B. Montoya (D-Whittier), the first legislator indicted in a federal corruption probe in the state Capitol, went on trial on 12 counts of extortion, bribery, racketeering and money laundering. U.S. District Judge Milton Schwartz, joined by prosecutors, Montoya and his attorneys, spent much of the day questioning individual jurors in private in an effort to impanel a jury that has not been influenced by media coverage of the case.”
A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are for.

cho

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History of Marina- Argonaut series
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2010, 09:37PM »
Looking back on how the Marina was created: Part XXIV
http://argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/09/09/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt

BY HELGA GENDELL

Part XXIV of the Marina del Rey history series continues to address the legal ramifications of then state Sens. Joseph B. Montoya and Alan Robbins.

Part XXIII concluded with the jury selection in Montoya’s bribery trial. The reported business ties between Montoya, Robbins and Mark Nathanson, a Beverly Hills investor who was then a member of the California Coastal Commission and the county Small Craft Harbor Commission, were sourced in Part XXI of the history series.

In a Dec. 22, 1989 Los Angeles Times article titled “Court Hears Tape of Montoya During Sting,” reporter Richard Paddock wrote, “Sen. Joseph B. Montoya, agreeing to promote a ‘special interest’ bill to benefit a shrimp company, told an undercover informant he wanted a $3,000 payment, according to a secret tape recording of the conversation played in court.

“Montoya, in a meeting with Senate staff member John Shahabian, said he would accept $3,000 at a breakfast meeting with a representative of the company and call the payment an ‘honorarium,’ according to the tape.

“But unknown to Montoya, Shahabian was working as an undercover informant for the FBI and the shrimp company was a bogus firm set up as part of a sting investigation into political corruption in the state Capitol.”

The Times article continued, “Montoya (D-Whittier) is now on trial on 12 counts of extortion, racketeering, bribery and money laundering as a result of the sting. Three of the counts relate directly to the shrimp company honorarium, but the rest involve alleged extortion of money from other groups who sought Montoya’s support on various bills from 1985 to 1988.

“Two conversations taped by Shahabian were played in public Thursday for the first time, although some excerpts from the tapes had been released earlier by prosecutors.

“One tape — a conversation with Sen. Alan Robbins — revealed that it was Robbins who first sent Shahabian to Montoya. ‘What it will take with Joe (Montoya) is a little envelope,’ Robbins told Shahabian, according to the tape.

“Robbins (D-Tarzana) turned down Shahabian’s offer of a payment for himself, saying, ‘I don’t need to be taken care of on every bill that comes through,’ according to a transcript of the conversation,” stated the Times article.

“Shahabian told the jury that he began cooperating with the FBI in 1987 after he was snared in the sting. He said he had received a payment of $7,500 from an undercover agent for his help on similar legislation for the ‘shrimp company’ in 1986.

“Shahabian, acting in his role as a representative of the shrimp firm, began to seek assistance from legislators in 1988 for a bill that would help the company receive state bond financing for a shrimp plant in the Sacramento area.”

The Times article reported, “In June, he met with Montoya and asked for the senator’s help when the measure came before the Senate Banking and Commerce Committee, of which Montoya is a member.

“‘Well, it affects just one company,’ Shahabian told Montoya, according to a transcript of the tape.

“‘All right,’ Montoya said.

“‘What is the uh, how can we be helpful to you?’ Shahabian then asked.

“‘Either way, contributions and/or honorariums,’ the senator said.

“Later in the conversation, Shahabian told Montoya that two Republican assemblymen, Pat Nolan of Glendale and Frank Hill of Whittier, were supporting the bill and he would be receiving a total of $10,000,” according to the Times article.

“Both Nolan and Hill remain under investigation by U.S. Attorney David Levi.

“After learning of the amount to be paid to the Assembly Republicans, Montoya told Shahabian, ‘I wouldn’t wanna do more than three. You don’t wanna appear ridiculous. Y’know it’s nice to get help but you don’t wanna appear ridiculous,’ Montoya added.

“At one point in the conversation, Montoya referred to a committee analysis of the bill and said, ‘It does make it very, very clear that it’s special-interest money.’”

The Times article continued, “Shahabian mentioned that it might be difficult for him to arrange an honorarium, which would normally be payment for a speech. Shahabian pointed out that there was no group Montoya could address, only a representative of the ‘company.’

“‘Well, can I meet with him somewhere?’ Montoya suggested. A moment later, he said, ‘We’ll have a breakfast meeting, if need be.’

“A week later, Montoya received a $3,000 check from FBI agent George Murray, who was posing as George Miller, the head of the shrimp company.

“Murray delivered the check at a breakfast meeting, which was videotaped by another federal agent. Prosecutors began playing the tape for the jury Thursday but ran out of time to show any scene that might be incriminating,” according to the Times article.

“During the conversation between Montoya and Shahabian, the two spent far more time discussing honorariums and contributions than what the legislation would actually do.

“Shahabian noted that the ‘company’ had given $20,000 to then-Sen. Paul Carpenter (D-Cypress) in 1986. Carpenter, now a member of the State Board of Equalization, also is under investigation.

“Montoya asked whether the company was ‘still doing well on the shrimp. After Shahabian said it was doing ‘quite well,’ the senator said, ‘OK, so they can be helpful.’”

The Times article continues, “Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Panneton, Shahabian told the jury, ‘Sen. Montoya had a reputation of someone who was more helpful to his contributors than to other people.’”

In a Jan. 26, 1990 Los Angeles Times article titled “Robbins Hit by Montoya Trial Fallout,” reporter Bill Boyarsky wrote, “Although he’s not been charged with any offense, the Tarzana Democrat has been hurt by testimony in the [Joe Montoya] trial. A government informant, wearing a secret recorder, taped [Alan Robbins] suggesting that the informant offer $3,000 to Montoya for supporting a bill. Robbins also told the informant it would take about $40,000 to win Senate passage of the bill.

“All of these requests are recorded by Robbins’ staff. When Robbins goes into the budget negotiations, his copy of the budget is indexed with notes containing the requests. As the negotiations move along, Robbins, master of detail, dispenses his favors.”

The Times article continued, “Robbins steered the bill through the Senate, but with a key change: an amendment to allow Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti of Los Angeles to appoint a senator to the new agency’s board. Roberti, one of Robbins’ many debtors, undoubtedly was ready to give the job to Robbins. The senator wanted the appointment so he could increase his local political power.”
A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are for.

cho

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History of Marina- Argonaut series
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2010, 07:27PM »
http://argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/09/16/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt

Looking back on how the Marina was created: Part XXV

BY HELGA GENDELL

Part XXV of the Marina del Rey history series continues to address the legal ramifications of then state Sens. Joseph B. Montoya and Alan Robbins, and their connection at the time with Mark Nathanson, a real estate investor and former member of the California Coastal Commission and county Small Craft Harbor Commission.

Part XXIV concluded with the coverage of a court hearing a taped sting recording by an informant. Part XXIV additionally addressed news reports of how Robbins was impacted by the Montoya trial fallout when his voice was heard on that tape.

A Feb. 4, 1990 Los Angeles Times article titled “California Senator Montoya Found Guilty on 7 of 10 Felony Counts,” from the Advance Desk, reported, “State Sen. Joseph Montoya, snared in an elaborate FBI sting operation against political corruption, was found guilty of seven of 10 counts of racketeering, extortion and money laundering in the first felony conviction of a state legislator in 35 years.

“The seven-woman, five-man jury heard eight weeks of testimony and deliberated four days before finding the 50-year-old Democrat from Whittier guilty of accepting money from a bogus company to help ram a bill through the Legislature.

“Montoya will be sentenced April 26. The maximum penalties are 20 years in prison for each count. He also faces $2 million in fines and could forfeit $8,000 that prosecutors said he accepted illegally.”

The Times article continued, “Defense attorney Michael Sands said he would appeal the verdict ‘on every ground we can find. We think there are quite a few.’

“Juror Greg Coumas, a car dealership employee, said the trial left him with misgivings about the state of California politics.

“‘It bothers me,’ he said. ‘There were other legislators that came up (during the trial). It seems likely it doesn’t end here.’”

“Montoya was convicted on five counts of extortion, one count of racketeering and one count of money laundering. The jury found Montoya innocent on three counts of extortion,” reported the Times article.

“A stoic Montoya sat between his lawyers at the front of the heavily guarded courtroom packed with relatives and reporters.

“Asked if he would resign from the Legislature, defense lawyer Sands said, ‘I cannot comment on that at this time. We will have our discussions.’

“‘This case struck a chord with a lot of Californians,’ said U.S. Attorney David Levi, who headed the prosecution team. ‘People care about a case like this.’ Other than to say the investigation of Capitol corruption is still underway, Levi refused to discuss the likelihood of indictments against other lawmakers. But he added, ‘We felt it was very important to win this first case.’”

The Times article continued, “Montoya’s conviction leaves his colleagues facing the sticky legal and political problem of whether to expel him from the Senate.

“Senate leader David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles) said he has called an emergency meeting of the Senate Rules Committee to determine Montoya’s fate in the Legislature. He could be expelled from the Senate on a two-thirds vote.

“No lawmaker has been expelled by his colleagues since 1905, when four senators were removed from office on the same day after they were implicated in a bribery scheme,” stated the Times article.

“Since his indictment on May 17, 1989, Montoya has remained in the Senate as chairman of its Business and Professions Committee. The last time a sitting legislator was convicted of a felony was in 1954, when Assemblyman Charles Lyon, a Beverly Hills Republican, was found guilty of bribery in a scandal involving the sale of liquor licenses.

“Montoya’s former top aide, Amiel Jaramillo, was indicted along with his boss. He is due to go on trial March 5.

“During the elaborate sting investigation, the FBI formed two companies seeking special legislation that would have allowed it to obtain cheap, state-backed financing for a proposed shrimp processing plant in West Sacramento.”

The Times article reported, “Undercover agents, posing as company executives, won easy passage of bills in 1986 and 1988. Both were vetoed by Gov. George Deukmejian, who had been tipped off by the FBI.

“In September 1987, a Democratic legislative aide, John Shahabian, was caught allegedly extorting a $20,000 campaign contribution from agents on behalf of his boss, Sen. Paul Carpenter, who is now a Board of Equalization member.

“In exchange for immunity from prosecution, Shahabian agreed to help agents by wearing a hidden tape recorder while he helped shepherd the 1988 bill through the Legislature.”

According to the Times article, “The jury heard a taped conversation of Shahabian asking Montoya to support the bill and the senator’s agreement to accept a $3,000 honorarium from the FBI’s sham company.

“Jurors also saw a secretly videotaped breakfast meeting in which Montoya allegedly stuffed an envelope containing a $3,000 check in his coat pocket.

“Montoya contended during four days on the witness stand that California law permitted him to accept an honorarium for attending the breakfast. The investigation came to light Aug. 24, 1988, as FBI agents searched the offices of Montoya and three other legislators,” stated the Times article.

“The other three, Assembly members Gwen Moore (D-Los Angeles), Pat Nolan (R-Glendale) and Frank Hill (R-Whittier) remain targets of the investigation, along with Carpenter. No other lawmakers have been charged.

“After the search, a federal grand jury continued investigating Montoya. Besides the sting, he was accused in seven other instances of wrongdoing. Prosecutors portrayed Montoya as a man driven to become a millionaire any way he could.

“The jury acquitted Montoya on three extortion counts dealing with charges that he attempted to extort money from actor Ed Asner and the Screen Actors Guild, a recycling company in his district known as the Allan Co., and the California Independent Producers Association, a trade group of natural gas producers.”

The Times article continued, “But the jury convicted Montoya on counts of trying to extort money from prominent sports agent Mike Trope and the National Football League Players Association, who were opposing each other on legislation in 1985.

“Montoya was also convicted of extortion for demanding money from lawyer-lobbyist Gene Livingston, who wanted Montoya to carry a bill protecting the graduates of foreign medical schools.

“An official of the California Oil and Gas Association said Montoya, after voting in favor of a bill the association wanted passed, asked a lobbyist to make sure that a campaign contribution had been made. But the jury acquitted Montoya of extortion in that incident,” reported the Times article.

In a Feb. 11, 1990 Los Angeles Times article titled “Brown Pushing for Ban on Honorariums,” reporter Richard C. Paddock wrote, “[Willie Brown] and [David A. Roberti] agreed in separate interviews that pressure on the legislature to act has been intensified by the Feb. 2 conviction of Montoya on seven counts of extortion, racketeering and money laundering. Montoya, who resigned his Senate seat, was found guilty by a federal court jury of using his position to extract honorariums and campaign contributions from people with business before the Legislature.

“Now, Brown said, Montoya’s infamous videotaped breakfast at Pennisi’s Café here has made it politically unacceptable for legislators to take honorariums, even as speaking fees for legitimate appearances.

“Brown, who has long been at odds with Montoya, said a ban on honorariums for legislators would be ‘Joe Montoya’s ultimate revenge.’”

In a July 9, 1990 Los Angeles Times article titled, “Robbins Retains Financial Stake in Development Project,” reporters Jeffrey L. Rabin and Jack Cheevers wrote, “State Sen. Alan Robbins, whose sale of 16 acres of choice land in Venice last year was portrayed as an effort to end a controversy over a massive regional shopping center he had tried to develop there, has in fact retained a limited interest in the project that replaced it — a $400 million complex of offices, condominiums and apartments called Channel Gateway.

“The Tarzana Democrat’s plan for building a massive regional shopping center, office and residential complex on prime land near Marina del Rey generated intense opposition in 1987 and 1988 in the congested neighborhoods around Lincoln Boulevard.”

The Times article continues, “But the development dream stalled when slow-growth advocate Ruth Galanter upset veteran Los Angeles Councilwoman Pat Russell in the district and Culver City approved zoning for a rival shopping center three blocks away from where Robbins sold the land in March 1989.

“The veteran lawmaker’s involvement and assemblage and then selling the once industrial land in the Oxford Triangle neighborhood has become the subject of an array of civil lawsuits filed in Santa Monica Superior Court,” stated the Times article.

“In court papers, a Newport Beach businessman trying to buy and develop property near the Marina claims that Robbins warned him that he would never get a crucial government permit because Robbins wanted to acquire the land himself.

“Robert Blake also said Robbins boasted that he had Councilwoman Russell ‘tied up’ in connection with his efforts from 1985 to 1987 to buy the 16-acre site. The property is subject to city planning rules.

“Blake’s allegations are contained in documents filed recently as part of a complex web of civil lawsuits involving Blake, Robbins and a wealthy La Jolla car dealer, Jeremy Simms. The three were partners in a 3,800-acre parcel of Ventura County land that sold last year for $22 million. The profits from the sale also are a subject of the suits,” reported the Times article.

“Robbins has said in interviews that Blake’s charges are ‘absolutely absurd’ and that his allegations ‘do not comport with the facts.’

“But the legal fight has served to focus attention on Robbins’ role in the property that lies at the western end of the Marina Expressway, just outside Marina del Rey.”

In a correction regarding acreage of the property sold, dated July 29, 1990, the Times stated that “Robbins’ partnership purchased five acres for $12.2 million and, after acquiring other parcels, sold a total of 16 acres for $45 million to Los Angeles developer Jerome Snyder and his associates in March 1989.”

In a July 17, 1990 Los Angeles Times article titled “Montoya Arrives to Start Prison Term a Day Early,” reporter Paul Jacobs wrote, “Former California state Sen. Joseph B. Montoya quietly entered a federal prison camp in Boron on July 16, 1990, one day before he was scheduled to begin serving a six and one-half year sentence for extortion, racketeering and money laundering.”

In an Oct. 1, 1990 Los Angeles Times article titled, “Sen. Robbins Investigated in Alleged Extortion Case,” reporters Jacobs and Mark Gladstone wrote, “A federal grand jury is investigating allegations that state Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Tarzana) and California Coastal Commissioner Mark L. Nathanson were involved in a scheme to extort $250,000 from a prominent San Diego hotel developer who was trying to block construction of a rival hotel, The Times has learned.

“The developer, Jack Naiman, has told investigators he was startled by the alleged demand for a payoff and tried to resist, but was put into a ‘squeeze’ that led him to pay the bulk of the money — some of it in cash — according to sources familiar with the probe.

“The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office here are trying to determine whether the veteran San Fernando Democrat allegedly abused the power of his office for personal gain in violation of state and federal law, sources familiar with the investigation say.”

The Times article continued, “Neither Robbins nor Nathanson has been charged with a crime, and attorneys for both men deny any wrongdoing. But the grand jury is continuing its investigation.

“The allegations were brought to investigators by Naiman and Jeremy Simms, a Robbins business partner from La Jolla who has been battling the legislator in a protracted series of lawsuits.

“Robbins, who is running for reelection, said in a written statement to Times reporters that ‘if allegations of the nature you have described have been made, they are absolutely false.’

“But he added that ‘because the federal investigation is still pending, my legal counsel has requested that I not comment any further at this time.’ He expressed confidence ‘that I will be found to have acted legally and properly at all times.’”

The Times article reported, “In October 1989, Robbins acknowledged in a public document that he had received money from Naiman, but said the payments were part of a loan transaction that also involved Simms. He did not report the transaction in detail.

“Nathanson, the coastal commissioner who also is a subject of the probe, spoke briefly twice with a Times reporter, but referred most questions to his attorney. Nathanson, a real estate broker and consultant, said he has reported all of his income sources on the financial statements that are required to be filed each year with the State Fair Political Practices Commission.”
A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are for.

cho

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History of Marina- Argonaut series cont'd (part 26)
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2010, 11:23AM »
http://argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/09/23/news_-_features/marina_del_rey/hg.txt

Looking back on how the Marina was created: Part XXVI


BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 3:35 PM PDT)

Part XXVI of the Marina del Rey history series continues to address the reporting of legal ramifications of then state Sens. Joseph B. Montoya and Alan Robbins, and their connection at the time with Mark Nathanson, a real estate investor and former member of the California Coastal Commission and county Small Craft Harbor Commission.

Part XXV concluded with an Oct. 1, 1990 Los Angeles Times article titled “Sen. Alan Robbins Investigated in Alleged Extortion Case,” by reporters Paul Jacobs and Mark Gladstone. They wrote that a federal grand jury was investigating allegations that Robbins and Nathanson were involved in a scheme to extort $250,000 from a prominent San Diego hotel developer, Jack Naiman, who was trying to block construction of a rival hotel.

According to the Times article, Nathanson had told a reporter that he had reported all of his income sources on the financial statements that are required to be filed each year with the State Fair Political Practices Commission.

The Times article reported, “The records on file with that watchdog agency show no payments from developer Naiman to Nathanson.

“Nathanson’s attorney, Robert L. Shapiro, said Nathanson ‘certainly did not extort money from Jack Naiman or anyone else.’”

The Times article continued, “U.S. Attorney David F. Levi would not comment on the allegations or even confirm whether there is an investigation. However, other authoritative sources said the federal probe of Robbins began at least two years ago as an outgrowth of an FBI sting operation to root out corruption in the state Capitol. In recent months, investigators have questioned Robbins’ legislative staff, his business partners and several lobbyists. A number of Robbins’ associates have been questioned by the grand jury.

“Federal authorities have subpoenaed Robbins’ financial records, and the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) has been contacting many of his campaign contributors.

“In the course of the wide-ranging investigation, the grand jury also has been looking at how the lawmaker acquired an interest in 1987 in a much-coveted Acura car dealership in the San Diego area as American Honda Motor Co. Inc. was introducing the upscale automobile. Robbins’ profit for about a year has been estimated at between $150,000 and $190,000 by people familiar with the deal,” the Times article reported.

“Other matters under federal scrutiny include Robbins’ ties to an exotic car rental operation in Marina del Rey, his private land deals around the Marina and in Ventura County, and a bill that could have affected his financial holdings in the Marina,” according to the Times.

“In addition to the ongoing federal probe, Robbins is the subject of an investigation by the state attorney general’s office, which is trying to determine whether the lawmaker violated statutes barring the personal use of campaign funds.

“At least partly in response to the federal and state investigation, Robbins’ campaign committees reported paying about $170,000 in the first six moths of 1990 to law firms in San Diego, Los Angeles and Sacramento, according to the committees’ campaign filings.”

The Times article continues, “During his sometimes turbulent 17 years in the Senate, Robbins, has proven to be a politician of considerable resilience.

“Respected for his quick mind and unflagging energy, he has managed to keep a series of complicated private business deals in motion while juggling a heavy legislative load.

“Now, federal investigators, looking at Robbins’ various activities, have turned much of their attention to his behind-the-scenes role in what apparently started as a dispute over development in the booming San Diego hotel market,” stated the Times article.

“Several people familiar with the probe agreed to talk to the Times on condition they not be identified. These sources said an account of Robbins’ and Nathanson’s alleged involvement in the hotel controversy has been presented to the federal grand jury.

“The struggle over the hotel began in 1987 when San Diego businessman Jack Naiman, after five years of planning, was securing the financing he needed for his Aventine project — an office building, athletic club and hotel-restaurant complex in La Jolla just off the I-5 Freeway.”

The Times article reported, “With the future of the $150 million project still unsettled, Naiman became concerned about a competing proposal. Plans were being made for a Sheraton hotel a few miles away on city-owned land — a picturesque ocean-view site overlooking the Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course.

“The 48-year-old Naiman, born in Lima, Peru, is described as a restless entrepreneur and a connoisseur of art and architecture. Naiman also dabbled in politics, donating money to several political candidates, mainly Democrats, including $2,500 to Robbins.

“It was in 1987, with a fight looming over the Sheraton proposal, that Naiman turned to businessman Simms for help, according to sources. A former Pasadena car dealer, Simms was Naiman’s friend, neighbor and sometimes-business associate who had provided substantial loans to Naiman, according to public records.”

The Times article continues, “With the encouragement of Naiman, Simms led a well-funded campaign to oppose construction of the Sheraton and was the spokesman for Friends of Torrey Pines, which stressed that the proposed Sheraton was in the flight path of jets taking off from the Miramar Naval Air Station.

“Simms also was a friend and business partner of Robbins. The one-time auto dealer has made substantial contributions to political campaigns, including $3,000 to Robbins. At one point in 1980, Simms let Robbins stay at his home for several months after the lawmaker’s separation from his wife.

“In 1987, Simms made personal loans of $600,000 and $350,000 to Robbins when the legislator-businessman was strapped for cash, Simms stated in a court declaration. But Robbins and Simms are now locked in legal combat, having filed suits and countersuits over millions of dollars in property investments. Despite Simms’ spirited public relations efforts to kill the Sheraton deal, the San Diego City Council approved plans for the hotel. But the Sheraton still needed Coastal Commission approval before construction could begin,” stated the Times article.

“It was Simms who suggested that Naiman contact Robbins in the hope of getting the lawmaker’s help in blocking the rival hotel when it came before the commission, sources said. According to this account, when Naiman did contact Robbins, the senator said he thought he could be helpful in assisting the ‘stop-the-Sheraton effort.’ At this point, Robbins’ reasons for offering help were not clear. There was no direct request for money, the sources said, but Robbins allegedly suggested there might be some expenses in connection with the Coastal Commission fight,” according to the Times.

“Some time later, according to this version of events, Coastal Commissioner Nathanson entered the discussions about the Sheraton by contacting Simms. Nathanson is a Beverly Hills-based real estate broker with extensive political ties; he has been appointed to a number of public positions.”

The Times article continues, “Nathanson has had problems with authorities in the past. In 1974, after resigning from the Los Angeles Building and Safety Commission, he was charged with grand theft for allegedly accepting $2,500 from a Hollywood businessman in connection with a zone change. Nathanson pleaded no contest to the charge, but insisted that he had acted properly and had never solicited a bribe. A judge reduced the sentence to a misdemeanor and sentenced him to three years probation.

“In 1986, Nathanson was fined $13,400 by the state Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to disclose millions of dollars in business interests while serving as a member of the Little Hoover Commission. When Nathanson called Simms, the coastal commissioner was allegedly angry and pointed to the steps that had already been taken on Naiman’s behalf to stop the Sheraton. Apparently unaware of Robbins and Naiman’s previous conversation, Nathanson told Simms it was urgent for Naiman to keep his promise to get back to Robbins again, this time in person. There was no discussion of money,” the Times article stated.

“Neither Nathanson nor his lawyer would answer questions about the coastal commissioner’s involvement in the Sheraton dispute. Nor would they confirm or deny that the conversation with Simms ever took place.

“But as this version of events continues, Nathanson’s agitation so puzzled Simms that he quickly contacted Naiman and urged him to meet with Robbins. It was then, at a meeting in Sacramento, that Robbins allegedly told Naiman he would have to pay $250,000 for lining up the support needed to stop the Sheraton. As one source described it, Robbins ‘put the bite on him.’

“Not wanting to go along, Naiman called off the effort to block the competing hotel, investigators have been told. But Robbins allegedly told Naiman that he would have to pay anyway, and that if he did not, he would have trouble doing business in California again.”

The Times article reported, “Fearing the veteran lawmaker could follow through on what Naiman saw as a threat, the developer began making payments, according to sources familiar with the allegations made to federal investigators.

“The Sheraton hotel proposal was unanimously approved in September 1987, by the 12-member Coastal Commission, including Nathanson, without any debate and with no indication that there had been any attempt to affect the outcome. And, despite the competition, Naiman was able to secure his financing and complete the construction of the Aventine projects, including a Hyatt Regency Hotel.

“Naiman could not be reached by reporters. An aide said he would have no comment on the allegations. Simms also refused to comment,” according to the Times article.

“Initially, Robbins allegedly failed to report any payments from Naiman on his annual financial disclosure statements required by state law. But Robbins later revised his 1988 declaration to report that part of a Simms loan of ‘over $10,000’ was ‘transmitted’ to the senator by Naiman. The disclosure statement required no elaboration, and Robbins did not have to reveal the exact amount of the loan.

“Sources familiar with the alleged transaction said Simms denies Naiman was acting on his behalf when making payments to Robbins. Robbins believes the federal investigation of the allegations is the result of a rancorous business dispute between him and Simms, according to an attorney familiar with Robbins’ legal position.

“About a year ago, an attorney for Robbins wrote U.S. Attorney Levi complaining that Simms was making ‘untrue accusations’ about the lawmaker. Attorney Paul H. Rochmes asserted that Simms’ accusations were ‘baseless’ and represented an attempt to pressure Robbins into paying Simms ‘several million dollars’ to settle their business dispute.”

The Times article continues, “Also of interest to investigators is how the San Fernando legislator wound up with a share of the National City Acura dealership, which he parlayed into a six figure profit within a year, sources said. The federal authorities are trying to determine whether Robbins’ participation in the deal was related to his legislative activities, and thus may have involved an abuse of public office.

“One focal point for investigators is a 1984 bill by then-Assemblyman Bruce Young (D-Norwalk), which would have forced Honda and other manufacturers of all-terrain vehicles to sell their products exclusively through franchise dealers. At the time, Honda and the other manufacturers were selling three-wheel, all-terrain vehicles through various types of outlets, not just franchise dealers.

“Robbins gained the attention of Honda and its lobbyists by sponsoring in the Senate the dealer franchise bill that Honda opposed. After a bitter fight, the measure went down to defeat, representing a major victory for the auto manufacturer.”

According to the Times article, “Three years later, Robbins wanted an Acura dealership, and Honda inexplicably allowed their one-time foe to acquire an interest in one.

“Collaborating with ex-car dealer Simms to obtain an Acura dealership, Robbins enlisted the help of Honda lobbyist Paul Priolo, a former Assembly Republican leader and legislative colleague. Sources said Priolo provided helpful ‘information,’ but they disagree over whether it was crucial to Robbins.

“The state Political Reform Act prohibits a lobbyist from ‘doing anything with the purpose of placing any state elected official�under personal obligation to the lobbyist.’ Priolo could not be reached for comment,” stated the Times article.

“Even before the dealership opened its doors, Robbins and Simms sold the controlling interest to Robert H. (Bob) Baker, a National City auto dealer. Baker told The Times he had presented plans from a dealership to Honda and ‘it was understood to deal with Robbins and Simms.’ Baker said he eventually paid the two men about $330,000. Baker also said Robbins’ investment in the dealership was $30,000, which matched a ‘consulting fee’ he already had paid the legislator,” the Times reported.

“Baker and Harold Tipton, another San Diego area car dealer who participated in the deal, have testified before the grand jury, according to Baker and other sources.

“James J. Short, an attorney for American Honda, said in a prepared statement that the company also ‘had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in Sacramento to provide information concerning Sen. Robbins and had fully cooperated with the request,” the Times article stated.

“Short said he has been assured Honda is not a target of the grand jury investigation. He denied that ‘the company had either given or sought any special treatment to or from the senator.’

“The federal investigators first began looking at Robbins as part of a sting operation known as Brispec (for bribery-special interest), in which undercover FBI agents posed as businessmen seeking legislation to help them start a shrimp company processing plant near Sacramento. The federal probe has resulted in the conviction of ex-Sens. Joseph B. Montoya (De-Whittier) and Paul Carpenter (D-Norwalk) on political corruption charges.”

“Over the last two years, federal authorities have been gathering information about a number of other activities involving Robbins, including: The senator’s alleged efforts to solicit campaign contributions from osteopathic physicians. In 1985, the Osteopathic Physicians & Surgeons of California had a bill pending before the Senate Insurance, Claims and Corporations Committee, which Robbins chaired. Ex-Sen. Montoya testified during his trial that Robbins wanted a contribution from the osteopaths. The measure backed by the group was intended to stop discrimination against osteopaths by health maintenance organizations. The lobbyist for the group, Matthew Weyuker, said he refused to send a contribution to Robbins, who voted for the measure in his committee anyway. The bill later died in another committee.”

Other activities involving Robbins, according to the Times: “The lawmaker’s dealings with the Beverly Hills Car Collection, an exotic car rental agency with a branch near Marina del Rey. Federal authorities are looking at allegations that Robbins was able to obtain special deals from the agency for political associates and personal friends. The chief executive of the company, Allan J. Siemons, has been questioned by federal authorities, according to sources. Siemons declined to comment on those discussions.

“A 1985 bill, carried by Sen. Montoya, that limited the ability of tenants in Marina del Rey to incorporate their community and impose rent control on apartments. The measure passed and stopped the incorporation drive in its tracks — to the benefit of Robbins and others who lease county-owned land in the Marina. Robbins abstained from voting on the bill, citing a conflict of interest.
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History of Marina- Argonaut series cont'd (part 27)
« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2010, 11:24AM »
http://argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/09/30/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt

Looking back on how the Marina was created: Part XXVII

BY HELGA GENDELL
(Created: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 4:02 PM PDT)

Part XXVII of the Marina del Rey history series continues to address news reports of the legal ramifications of then state Sens. Joseph B. Montoya and Alan Robbins as well as the investigation for alleged extortion against Mark Nathanson, a real estate investor and former member of the California Coastal Commission and county Small Craft Harbor Commission.

Part XXVI concluded with an Oct. 1, 1990 Los Angeles Times article by reporters Paul Jacobs and Mark Gladstone about the investigation of Nathanson by the FBI for the alleged extortion of a San Diego businessman.

In a Sept. 20, 1991 Los Angeles Times article titled “Robbins-Led Venture Seeks Bankruptcy,” reporters Jack Cheevers and Gladstone wrote, “A real estate partnership led by Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys) has filed for bankruptcy, listing $7.6 million in debts to prominent Los Angeles developers, lawyers and banks.

“The partnership’s biggest single debt is $3.4 million to an Encino bank linked to the scandal-ridden Bank of Credit & Commerce International.

“Robbins is the majority partner in Marina East Holding Partnership, which filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. His only partner in the venture is Los Angeles attorney Marvin Kay, a close friend.”

The Times article continued, “Marina East’s lawyer, Lawrence A. Diamant, said the bankruptcy filing was triggered in part by the sluggish economy, which has slowed development of a massive Venice commercial and residential project in which Marina East has a big financial stake.

“The $400-million project, called Channel Gateway, includes more than 1,000 living units along with an office building containing 314,000 square feet of space. Robbins, who has grown wealthy developing offices, medical buildings and apartment complexes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, said the bankruptcy has not seriously harmed his personal finances.

“According to documents filed in support of the bankruptcy petition, Marina East’s largest creditor is Independence Bank of Encino, the San Fernando Valley’s biggest commercial bank,” reported the Times article.

“Federal bank regulators this week imposed $37 million in fines on Saudi Arabian financier Ghaith Pharaon for concealing his 1985 acquisitions of Independence on behalf of Luxembourg-based BCCI.

“According to public records, Robbins and Marina East have received at least two loans totaling more than $7 million from Independence.”

The Times article continues, “Marina East made Independence a partner in 1990 as a security for the loan on which Marina East still owes $3.4 million, according to bankruptcy papers. The loan is accumulating interest of more than $1,000 per day.

“According to Los Angeles County property records, Independence also loaned Robbins personally up to $3.6 million in 1989. That loan was secured by property held by Marina East, records said. Robbins said the loan had been repaid, the Times reported.

[The following article on Montoya cites portions of the full story germane to the subject.]

In a Sept. 21, 1991 Los Angeles Times article titled “5 Extortion Verdicts Against Montoya Upset,” reporters Richard C. Paddock and Paul Jacobs wrote, “In a setback for the FBI’s corruption probe in the state Capitol, a federal court of appeals overturned the conviction of former Sen. Joseph B. Montoya on five counts of extortion.

“The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the jury received flawed instructions on the federal extortion law, but upheld Montoya’s conviction on two remaining counts of racketeering and money laundering. The court refused to release Montoya from prison but ordered the trial judge to consider reducing the Whittier Democrat’s 6 �-year prison sentence.”

The Times article continues, “‘We are pleased that the five extortion convictions have been reversed,’” said Jan Lawrence Handzlik, Montoya’s attorney. “‘Extortion requires something more than the receipt of voluntary campaign contributions by an elected official. We continue to believe that the two remaining convictions should be reversed.’

“The court ruling casts a shadow over the six-year investigation that resulted last year in the guilty verdict against Montoya and, in a separate trial, the conviction of former Sen. Paul Carpenter on charges of extortion, racketeering and conspiracy.

“The decision, which applies a higher standard of proof in extortion cases, could lead to a reversal of Carpenter’s conviction and, according to legal experts, make it tougher to bring charges against three other state legislators under investigation: Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Tarzana), Assemblyman Pat Nolan (R-Glendale) and Sen. Frank Hill (R-Whittier),” stated the Times article.

“In essence, the appellate panel found that the trial judge had failed to instruct the jury that Montoya could be found guilty of extortion only if there was an explicit promise to act in exchange for a payment.

“The court’s decision to throw out Montoya’s conviction on all five extortion counts stems from a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court this year in the case of McCormick vs. the United States that changed the standard required for conviction in federal extortion cases.

“The Supreme Court ruled that, in order to convict a lawmaker, a jury must find there was ‘an explicit promise or undertaking by the official to perform or not perform an official act.’ In other words, public officials could only be found guilty of extortion if there had been a quid pro quo — a deal in which the official promised to take action in return for a payment.

“In Montoya’s trial — which took place before the McCormick case was decided — Judge Milton L. Schwartz instructed the jury that they did not have to find such an explicit promise,” reported the Times article.

“Despite its ruling, the appellate court indicated that Montoya’s conviction on at least some of the extortion cases would have been upheld even with the new standard for jury instructions established by the McCormick case.

“‘Our review of the evidence indicates there was sufficient evidence from which a jury could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that the payment was made in exchange for a promise of official action,’ said the court. ‘The deficiency is that the jury was not required by the instructions to make such a determination.’”

The Times article continued, “That finding gave some comfort to prosecutors as they contemplate retrying Montoya and bringing similar corruption charges against other legislators. ‘We think the Montoya decision has demonstrated loudly and clearly that California lawmakers can be prosecuted on racketeering and money-laundering charges and on (federal) extortion if the jury is properly instructed,’ O’Connell said.

“On a separate issue, the appellate court went even further than the U.S. Supreme Court, which had applied the tougher standard for an extortion case only to political campaign contributions.

“The three-judge panel ruled that the requirement of an explicit quid pro quo also applies to honorariums, saying there was ‘no rational distinction’ between campaign contributions — which can only be used for political purposes — and honorariums, which go directly into the lawmakers’ pockets,” according to the Times article.

A Nov. 20, 1991 New York Times article titled “State Senator From California Facing Racketeering Charges” reported, “A long-standing federal inquiry into corruption among California officials led to the filing of racketeering charges against a powerful state senator, who immediately issued a letter of resignation in which he admitted breaking the law.

“In a complaint filed by United States Attorney George O’Connell, state Sen. Alan Robbins was charged with allegedly extorting money from special interests, engaging in obstruction of justice and filing a false tax return.

The New York Times article continued, “Mr. Robbins, a 48-year-old Democrat from Van Nuys, became the third current or former member of the State Senate to face federal charges in the last two-and-a-half years. Joseph Montoya, who was chairman of the Senate Business and Professions Committee when he was convicted in April 1990 of racketeering, extortion and money laundering, is now serving a sentence of six-and-a-half years at a federal prison camp.

“And former state Sen. Paul Carpenter is free pending appeal of his racketeering, extortion and conspiracy convictions. Before his resignation today, Mr. [Alan] Robbins was chairman of the Insurance Committee, one of the most powerful panels in the State Senate and a lever for campaign contributions from such special interests as insurers and lawyers,” according to the New York Times article.

“The federal complaint charged that Mr. Robbins had taken legislative action in return for money on three occasions and, in a separate episode, had used his office from 1987 to 1989 ‘to extort for himself and another public official more than $200,000 from a California developer.’ Neither the other official nor the developer was identified.”

The New York Times article continues, “The government said Mr. Robbins had also tried to obstruct justice by asking a grand-jury witness to lie and had failed to report $52,800 in income on his federal income tax return.

“Mr. O’Connell, the United States attorney, said the defendant had cooperated with investigators and intended to plead guilty. Prosecutors said charges against other officials were likely.

“In his letter of resignation from the Senate, Mr. Robbins said, ‘After practicing both self-denial and public denial, I came to the conclusion that it was time to drop the shield of pretense and recognize that a number of actions I had taken as senator failed to meet the standards of law,’” reported the New York Times article.

In a Dec. 10, 1991 Los Angeles Times article titled, “Capitol Probe Shifts to Coastal Commissioner,” reporters Paul Jacobs and Mark Gladstone (with contributions by staff writer Robert W. Stewart) wrote, “The political corruption investigation that led to the resignation of Sen. Alan Robbins last month is now focused on one of the most influential non-elected public officials in the state, Mark L. Nathanson, a tough, combative member of the California Coastal Commission with strong ties to Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.

“A Beverly Hills real estate broker and business consultant, Nathanson is the unnamed ‘public official’ cited in charges against Robbins in the extortion of more than $200,000 from a San Diego hotel developer, sources familiar with the investigation told The Times.

“Nathanson has not been charged and through his attorney, has denied any impropriety. Nathanson is unique among those targeted by federal authorities — the first political appointee to undergo FBI scrutiny since the investigation began in the Capitol six years ago.

“The targeting of Nathanson, as well as the recent search of a prominent lobbyist’s office, signals that investigators have moved beyond their original objective of exposing and prosecuting corrupt lawmakers and legislative aides,” stated the Times article.

“U.S. Attorney George O’Connell and his investigators are following the probe wherever it leads them — even if it takes them outside Capitol corridors to the offices of lobbyists or the meeting rooms of appointed boards and commissions.

“In this instance, the investigation has led authorities to a man never elected to office, a brash, gun-toting political fundraiser who owes his public career to friends in high places,” reported the Times.

“Appointed to a series of state and local positions, Nathanson has been dogged periodically with questions about his conduct in office in a public career that spans almost three decades.

“It was the speaker of the Assembly, a liberal San Francisco Democrat, who placed Republican Nathanson on the Coastal Commission in 1986 — despite the fact that Nathanson had pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor attempt theft charge after being accused of taking a cash bribe in a West Hollywood parking lot 12 years earlier,” stated the Times article.

“Brown has said he was unaware of the incident at the time of the appointment and, when it was called to his attention, he dismissed it as too long ago to be relevant.

“Nathanson is one of four Brown appointees on the 12-member coastal panel, which regulates real estate development along 1,100 miles of California shoreline — a job of potentially enormous environmental and economic consequence.”
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History of Marina- Argonaut series (part 28-conclusion)
« Reply #16 on: October 13, 2010, 11:25AM »
http://argonautnewspaper.com/articles/2010/10/07/columns/helga_gendell/hg.txt

Looking back on how the Marina was created: Part XXVIII — Conclusion

BY HELGA GENDELL

Part XXVIII is the conclusion of the Marina del Rey history series, with a follow-up of reported legal ramifications at the time for then state Sen. Alan Robbins and Mark Nathanson, a real estate developer and former member of a state and county commission.

An interview with James A. Fawcett, Ph.D., the former chief of planning for the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors (DBH) from April 1993 to July 2000, details the origin of the Marina del Rey Long Term Asset Management Strategy (LTAMS).

Part XXVII of the series covered the news reports of the legal ramifications at the time for then state Sens. Joseph B. Montoya and Robbins, and the investigation of Nathanson, a former member of the California Coastal Commission and the county Small Craft Harbor Commission, by the FBI for the alleged extortion of a San Diego businessman.

Robbins resigned his Senate seat in November 1991 and was sentenced to five years for political corruption, entering federal prison in June 1992.

Nathanson was sentenced in August 1993 to four years and nine months for using his office to extort payments, entering federal prison in December 1993.

Fawcett is the director of the Marine Science & Policy Outreach Sea Grant Program at the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, and adjunct professor of Public Policy at the School of Public Policy, Planning and Development, University of Southern California.

The Asset Management Strategy is online at the Beaches and Harbors Web site under Marina del Rey redevelopment and is described as a “proactive strategy” designed to accomplish three objectives:

Provide a framework within which to make short-term Marina del Rey leasing and development decisions so that they remain consistent with redevelopment goals when Marina leases expire, largely between 2020 and 2030;

Provide programs to encourage redevelopment and refurbishment while ensuring quality maintenance of leasehold facilities during remaining lease terms; and

Effect a strategy for the Marina’s second generation development that better integrates recreational and commercial/residential areas, recognizing the need to establish Marina del Rey as an exciting and user-friendly attraction to both Southern California residents and tourists alike.

Fawcett told The Argonaut, “The bottom line is that after the 1995 LCP (Local Coastal Program) was amended, DBH missed a great opportunity by not going back to the drawing board to continue the planning process started in 1994.

“The mission should have been to involve the public as well as the lessees, crafting a future vision for the Marina that reflected the needs of the entire community. If Stan (Wisniewski, former director of DBH) had been sincere about that kind of effort, he and the county could have probably avoided much of the distrust and rancor that has characterized the relationship between DBH and the community over the past decade and a half. But, it would have taken a commitment to act like planning mattered to the Marina instead of treating the mission as one merely of property management. In the end, vision counts,” said Fawcett.

Fawcett recalled his tenure with the Department of Beaches and Harbors:

“When I arrived at the Department of Beaches and Harbors in April of 1993, one of the first things I noted was how difficult it was to read and interpret the Local Coastal Program for Marina del Rey,” he said.

“Moreover, it lacked any real sense of being a master plan. Oh, sure, it indicated the allowable uses on each parcel as well as the density allowed, but it didn’t really offer any vision of what the Marina could or wanted to be in the future.

“To an urbanist whose extensive graduate research had been focused on implementation of the Coastal Act of 1976, this was a golden opportunity to take the planning memorialized in the existing LCP and grow it into a vision for Marina del Rey,” he continued.

Over the months, Fawcett said he talked with the county’s planning consultants at Gruen Associates and the planner with primary responsibility for Marina del Rey, John Stutsman. After Fawcett had “really gotten my feet wet evaluating the existing LCP document and with the good counsel of Stutsman,” they approached Wisniewski, proposing that “we work together and develop an effective long-range plan for the Marina.”

“Stan, never one to hold much faith in planning to begin with, was reluctant to allow us to move on this path, and in fact, would not permit such an effort,” Fawcett claimed.

At the same time, as leases were expiring and coming up for renegotiation, and with the input of the department’s economic consultant, Fawcett said, “It became apparent to Stan that he really didn’t have good tools to decide where redevelopment would be most financially productive for the department and the county.

“In the end, economic considerations made it apparent to him that he needed a tool to evaluate how the Marina would evolve. While the objective of our proposed planning effort was more focused on design and land uses, (Wisniewski) was always more focused on real estate and revenue streams to the county,” said Fawcett.

Early in 1995, Wisniewski gave Gruen and the DBH planning staff the green light to move forward with what was originally called the “Long Term Management Study” for Marina del Rey, since even the planners’ and consultants’ approach would provide him with some of the tools that he found necessary, Fawcett explained.

Gruen and senior DBH planning officials conceived of the study as a series of “charrettes” that would bring together various parties with an interest in the future of Marina del Rey, providing information for Gruen to develop a kind of first-draft consensus plan that could then be used in public meetings to gather input and ideas from other stakeholders in the process, Fawcett continued.

“In the first instance — in the charrettes, however, the team would be limited to about 15 people consisting of Beaches and Harbors planning and asset management staff, Gruen design staff, ‘consultants with specific experience in Marina del Rey, and other real estate professionals with varied backgrounds to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the county with regard to the future of Marina del Rey up to the year 2025.’ The objective was to provide ‘concepts for consideration’ rather than a finished plan,” stated Fawcett.

[Two comments in the above paragraph by Fawcett refer to the Sedway, Kotin, Mouchley Group and Gruen Associates; 1995, Marina del Rey Long Term Asset Management Strategy,Workshop Briefing Book].

The original idea was for the LTMS to be vetted with the public and evolve into a full-fledged land use planning effort for the Marina, and the results of the charrettes would produce a “good starting point for that process,” he said.

“As Stutsman and I explained many times to director Wisniewski, the result of the charrettes would be a ‘plan for a plan, not a finished plan,’ meaning that there remained a great deal of work to be done both with residents of the Marina as well as with other stakeholders with an interest in what Marina del Rey might become because they were the real constituents of the plan.

“We wanted to ensure that Stan knew that this work would result in a draft, not a finished plan,” Fawcett explained.

Fawcett continued, “Unfortunately, all of this occurred as the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning worked with the Department of Beaches and Harbors to prepare a major amendment to the existing LCP. That effort had been underway for a couple of years and was in its final stages in 1995 before being reviewed and ratified by the Los Angeles Regional Planning Commission and the county Board of Supervisors before being submitted for approval by the California Coastal Commission.

“Fearing that the Coastal Commission would reject the amendment to the existing LCP if they discovered the county was operating on a parallel path to prepare a similar long-range plan — however different the two would be — Wisniewski ordered the name and direction of the planning effort to be redirected into what would become known as the ‘Long Term Asset Management Strategy,’” Fawcett said.

“Although the work had been conceived fundamentally as a planning project, it now would appear to the Coastal Commission and others that in fact the county was merely looking after its real estate assets in the Marina and that the work was truly independent of the LCP amendment.

“To the planners involved both from the DBH and Gruen, the approach was acceptable because we felt that once the LCP amendment was approved, we could return to looking at this as a long-term planning effort. We were either na‘ve or misguided in that belief by a director and perhaps others who did not want long-range planning to proceed outside the boundaries set by the state’s LCP process,” said Fawcett.

The need for planning was evident in the introduction to the LTAMS. Under the heading of “objectives,” he points out that the report states, “Without a pro-active (sic) asset management position, the current downward trend of the Marina in terms of the quality of improvements and its competitive position as a high-end residential and recreational area, will continue and result in a deteriorated revenue flow to the County.” (3) LTAMS, p.1-2.

Fawcett then said, “But the following paragraph revealed the more compelling objective-revenue generation for the county, rather than effective land use planning. It reads, ‘The objective of the LTAMS workshop is to produce one or more potential long-term development concepts for the Marina that will assist in maintaining and enhancing the quality of the Marina into the future.

“‘This process assumes that by developing a vision that pursues quality investment and repositioning of the Marina in the marketplace, greater future revenues for the county will be generated. It is hoped that the results of this workshop and the accompanying revenue projections will be compelling enough at a financial level to persuade the county Board of Supervisors to allow county asset management staff to pursue the preparation of an implementable LTAMS, and/or interim development guidelines.’

“Thus, the original objective of long-term planning to help the Marina meet the needs of the public was turned on its head into a real estate-based effort to derive more revenue from the existing leases,” said Fawcett.

The Regional Planning Commission and later the Board of Supervisors approved the amendment in 1995, and the Coastal Commission approved the major amendment to the LCP in early 1996, he said.

“For those of us who believed that the long-term planning effort should resume, focused on a long-term plan for the Marina rather than a short-term asset management strategy, the train had left the station. The LTAMS no more resembled the original objective of the planning team and instead was larded primarily with financial data, giving the department’s asset managers better information with which to renegotiate leases with the existing lessees,” Fawcett noted.

“Ironically, in a 1994 conversation, one of the county’s consultants proposed to the director and the planning staff a future option of collapsing all property ownership on each mole road into a single leasehold permitting creative land use strategies, and even perhaps moving the roadway location on the mole conducive to development of unified design and perhaps creating unique environments on each mole,” he continued.

“Notions such as that inspired the planners both at Beaches and Harbors and its consultants to propose the original LTMS. The irony is that the same economics consultant was equally active in supporting its conversion into the strictly real estate document that ultimately emerged,” said Fawcett.

Fawcett continues, “In the end, the public never really had the chance to help the county rethink what Marina del Rey might be since the LTAMS ultimately was an internal asset management document, a tool for the county’s asset managers to use in negotiating with lessees.

“As the 1995 LCP major amendment went to its final hearing before the Coastal Commission, one of the commissioners, a supervisor in San Diego County, resignedly noted when considering the amendment, ‘Well, this isn’t the way we would do things in San Diego, but I guess if you folks in L.A. County are happy with this plan, I won’t stand in your way.’ Of course, he was referring to the vast public spaces provided in Mission Bay and comparing it to the real estate-driven approach to development in Marina del Rey,” Fawcett said.

Fawcett said that as far as he is aware, the LTAMS continues to be used by Department of Beaches and Harbors asset managers and no real long-range planning has been either proposed or attempted since the mid-1990s.

“Around the middle of the 21st century, all of the Marina’s leases will expire and the citizens of the county will once again have the opportunity to reconsider whether Marina del Rey is fundamentally a recreational resource for the citizens of the county or a cash cow for the Board of Supervisors. Rethinking land use in Marina del Rey will be an interesting exercise; it’s just too bad that the public had so little opportunity this time to be a part of that process,” Fawcett said.
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