Commission says it will review coastal developments

The Associated Press
Friday August 03, 2001

MARINA DEL REY — The California Coastal Commission, faced with a lawsuit, promised Thursday to begin reviewing this Santa Monica Bay community’s coastal development plan this year, a move that might result in recommending a halt to new development. 

“We are hopeful that this review ... will help us save a slice of this coastal paradise that is now accessible to all of the residents of the Los Angeles regions,” said David DeLange, president of the Coalition to Save the Marina, which had sued the commission. 

Under terms of a consent decree settling the suit, the commission agreed to begin its review of land-use plans for popular Marina del Rey and part of the Ballona Wetlands open area this year. 

After the review is completed, the commission will make recommendations to Los Angeles County officials on whether development plans for the area should be modified and how.  

The county is not required to follow those recommendations, however. 

Activists said development plans for high-rise condominium towers, hotels and shopping centers threaten the natural feel of Marina del Rey, an unincorporated area 15 miles southwest of Los Angeles. 

A plan by a Saudi Arabian sheik to build a 20-story luxury hotel was singled out by activists as the kind of project they’re trying to stop.  

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to authorize negotiations with Sheik Abdul Aziz al-Ibrahim to extend the lease he already has on public land at the marina. 

“The very character and charm of Marina del Rey is at stake,” DeLange said.  

“We intend to fight to preserve this way of life.” 

The coastal commission is required by the state’s coastal act to review each of the state’s Local Coastal Programs – land-use and zoning directives that outline regulations for development along the state’s coast – every five years. 

The commission has only reviewed two LCPs out of more than 50 since it was created in 1972, said Sarah Christie, the agency’s legislative coordinator. 

“The commission has never had the budgetary and staff capabilities to carry out this program,” Christie said. “Regrettably, we’re in violation of our own statute.” 

Next year’s state budget had included $1.4 million for the commission to perform more reviews, but Gov. Gray Davis cut that money out with a line-item veto when he signed the budget. 

Christie said that regardless of funding concerns the commission is committed to performing the Marina del Rey LCP review. 

“We don’t know where we’re going to get the staff to do it, but we’ll find a way,” she said.