LA County considers reducing boat slips at Marina del Rey

Under a Los Angeles County plan that has generated much debate, Marina del Rey could get a lot smaller, the Los Angeles Times reported today.

The county wants to reduce the number of boat slips by 476, from 4,731 to 4,255. If approved, it would mean a 23 percent drop in the number of boat slips at the marina since 1999, the Times reported.

County officials told the newspaper the reductions are needed to build slips for larger boats, which are in increasing demand.

Santos H. Kreimann, the director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors, told the Times that most of the marina's docks were built in the 1960s, but as boat construction materials have changed from wood to fiberglass, boats have become longer and wider. As a result, the county wants to accommodate the next generation of boats.

"We've heard from boat brokers -- they are requesting larger slips," Kreimann told the newspaper, noting the county plans to build 271 more dry boat storage spots as part of the plan. Officials are trying to create "a balance between the small boaters and large boaters. The boats have grown up," Kreimann said.

But making space for more bigger boats will result in taking away room for smaller boats.

Jon Nahhas, 43, an information technology consultant in Playa del Rey, is furious about those plans. Nahhas told the newspaper he feared that fewer boat spaces will result in higher fees and more competition among boat owners for spots.

If the reductions in spaces occur, Nahhas said, "affordable boating is going to go away."

The dispute is one of many that is generating controversy at the marina, which was built out of an estuary and inlet in the 1950s and 1960s, funded by the county and federal governments.

County officials lease the land on Marina del Rey to private developers, generating $35 million a year in tax revenue to Los Angeles County. Funds can be redirected to uses such as law enforcement and public health.

More than a dozen projects are being considered, including a 19-story hotel, adding thousands of apartment units and building tens of thousands of square feet of shopping and restaurant space. Some worry that the buildings' height will block wind for sailboats.