Some Of Our Beaches And Parks Have Been Spared…

But the fight to save our coastal recreation spaces is not over!

Like many of you, I am pleased that City Administrative Officer Matthew Szabo has reached the conclusion that Will Rogers State Beach, Mar Vista Park, and Westchester Park will be spared.

Mike Bonin has wasted months on a four-page study to conclude what we all knew all along: these locations were never feasible in the first place.  The groundswell of local activism over these last few months has been breathtaking.  People from across the District came together to collaborate and strategize.  Alliances were forged, lasting friendships were made.  Perhaps for the first time, every community in CD-11 was on the same side, united in the fight to save the places we care about most.  I personally know many of you who contributed hundreds of volunteer hours to raise awareness about this issue, who wrote letters offering analysis and expressing your views, who spoke during Neighborhood Council meetings, who interviewed families at the parks and beaches, and who fought hard to get the attention of government officials.  Your hard work and dedication played a huge role in this outcome.  Although Mike Bonin won’t say it, I will:  THANK YOU.

While we can take a moment to breathe a collective sigh of relief for some of the proposed locations, isn’t it sad that we actually have to fight to save our beaches and parks…from our own elected member of the City Council?  Just think about that for a minute.

Here’s what we know from the CAO report[1]:

Will Rogers State Beach and Dockweiler Lot 3:  Spared due to lack of infrastructure, lack of utility capacity, and fire safety concerns.

Westchester and Mar Vista Parks:  Spared due to “robust recreational usage” and because they generate over half a million dollars per year for the City.

While this is good news, still on the table are the parking lot at Fisherman’s Village in Marina del Rey and the RV camping lot at Dockweiler.

The RV camping lot at 12001 Vista del Mar in Playa del Rey is a heavily-used tourist destination.  There are a total of 118 RV spaces, plus another 19 dry camper spots.  The lot is typically full on the weekends, year round.  The Dockweiler lot is the only RV campground on the beach in all of Los Angeles County.  Ongoing renovations approved in 2019, including a new administrative office, repaving, updated picnic and restroom areas, and habitat restoration, remain underway.  According to the Coastal Commission, the $11.5 million effort provided important public recreational improvements and supported the need for low cost access to the beach.[2]  Visitors with RVs pay $70 per night for hookups to water, sewage, and electrical outlets.  During my recent visits to the lot, I saw families barbecuing, children playing in the sand, people riding bikes along the Marvin Braude bike path, and groups gathered to watch a spectacular Pacific sunset.  Many of the groups I talked to were from out of town, enjoying a late summer vacation.  They’ve been coming here for years and consider Dockweiler to be one of their favorite destinations.

The parking lot at 13477 Fiji Way in Marina del Rey is right at the boat access point, directly across the street from the Ballona Wetlands ecological preserve, and immediately adjacent to the restaurants, retail businesses, and marina water recreation sports in Fisherman’s Village.  This location is used annually by thousands of boaters who do not have slips in the marina.  The site also is designated as a disaster staging area, serves as an emergency landing zone for helicopters, and is the only launch ramp that can be used in a major emergency.  From this location, visitors can stroll the harbor-front, go to the Marina Del Rey Visitor’s Center, watch passing sailboats, enjoy the wildlife, hear live music, or walk to Burton Chase Park for a picnic.  I remain highly concerned about the adverse impact the proposed tiny homes or “safe” camping project will have on the environment, the local businesses that rely on tourism, and the employees and families who depend on those businesses.  The local business economy, heavily driven by tourism and just beginning to recover from the pandemic, does not deserve another blow.  The hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions of Marina Del Rey generate nearly 3,000 local jobs, but they have not even been consulted about the “feasibility” of the City’s proposal.

Our coastal access and recreation destinations are the heart of CD-11, and our fight to protect them is not over.  We need new leadership who will keep our public spaces safe and accessible and work to bolster our local tourism-driven economy.

[1] https://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2021/21-0350_misc_08-10-21.pdf

[2] https://www.smdp.com/coastal-commission-to-hear-expansion-of-dockweiler-camp-site/177943

Traci Park

[1] https://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2021/21-0350_misc_08-10-21.pdf

[2] https://www.smdp.com/coastal-commission-to-hear-expansion-of-dockweiler-camp-site/177943

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