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Dec 07, 2016
The never-ending ramification of Marina del Rey’s redevelopment continue on. It seems things will lay still, but then, suddenly, become tumultuous, confusing and frustrating at some given moment. The latest issue that is weighing heavy is the reality of multiple construction projects happening simultaneously causing a temporary shortage of slips. Although anyone who’s trying to come into the marina with a boat will and difficulty in doing so, it’s the local brokers that are feeling the squeeze more than anyone. Bar Harbor’s full tear-down has removed that entire basin’s worth of slips to go away, which is quite a few, there is also Neptune and Pier that are out of commission; plus a major pending project at Mariner’s Bay, which has caused them to not accept more tenants. Not to mention the Marina del Rey Hotel anchorage that is also redoing slips (on a smaller scale) and causing shortages. All in all that’s over 1,000 slips that are completely unavailable in addition to a freeze on existing slips related to construction. For brokers, this is like removing entire sections from their stores and severely hampering their ability to make sales. Brokers depend on the availability of slips to make and close deals. “I haven’t seen, and I’ve been a broker here since 1974, an impact on boaters as severe as this,” said Gerry Purcell of Purcell Yachts. “The energy crisis, the financial crisis – none of them have been as severe as this.” The health and well being of brokers is of particular concern to boaters and tradesmen in MDR for this is where it all starts. People buy boats from brokerages then those new owners rent slips, pay people to x their boat, get gas, make improvements, take lessons…whatever—it all begins with that sale. They are lifeblood and it should be concerning to all involved including county officials that a freeze of this magnitude could be problematic down stream.“In one month, I had four clients that wanted to write offers on boats, but I couldn’t and a 40-foot slip, said Purcell. “They were commissions anywhere from five to ten thousand dollars each.” Purcell went on to say that the situation has created problems for all of the brokers in Marina del Rey and also to boaters who had to vacate but couldn’t and another slip for one reason or another. He and other brokers have questioned the planning process and wondered aloud why this wasn’t staged differently.“I was concerned as early as I understood that Neptune and Pier 44 redevelopment was really going to happen, probably 6 – 9 months ago,” said Steve Curran who has been selling boats in Marina del rey since the 1980s. “These closures had been rumored for years but always delayed. David Lumian, Chairman of the Small Craft Harbor Commission, brought this up at a Harbor Commission hearing three to six months ago and it was down played in terms of how it would affect slip availability by county Staff.” “The department is trying to be committed to getting everyone who is in a slip that’s being a displaced—a new slip,” said Lumian. “The problem is it doesn’t allow for new people who want to move their boats here or want to buy a boat and keep it here.” With so many slips completely offline, the next natural fear is that anchorages might take advantage of the situation and raise rents, knowing that boaters would be over a barrel. It’s already happened in one of the basins, a boater who asked not to be named said his rent went up 30% and had no recourse. There’s no way for him to do anything but except the hike because there currently is no where to go besides heading down to the Long Beach/Wilmington area. Lumian spoke optimistically about the county’s mindfulness of the dilemma and encouraged boaters who have been affected to reach out to county officials or the Small Craft Harbor Commission and let them know what their situation is.“It’s not going to heal itself,” Lumian said. “I raised this issue nearly a year ago and at the time it didn’t seem to resonate—now that it’s happening, people need to let us know what’s going on. It starts with people expressing themselves.”
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