Venice - Marina del Rey border crossing sealed
By DeDe Audet
An iron fence stands where a broad highway, three lanes north and three lanes south, once existed. Inside the fence you now see sixteen-story towers and two dozen million-dollar homes. Yes, you are looking at the posh Regatta condos, the luxe Water Terrace apartments, and the Harbor Crossing homes. Who did that and why? Was it option entrepreneurs, developers, or some other kind of real estate adventurer?
Once upon a time it seemed to be good strategy to link up the Marina Freeway (Route 90) to the Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1) in Santa Monica at the beach via a route called the Marina Bypass. Several routes were considered for this Bypass but all made use of one part or another of the old Southern Pacific Rail Road right-of-way which ran between Venice and the marina and on down to the industrial district north of Brooks. Residents of the Oxford Triangle section of Venice had the distinction of their choice of six different highway extensions through their neighborhood.
But those whose homes and access to the coast would be destroyed cared neither for the strategy nor the distinction. Fortunately for them Councilwoman Pat Russell had invited the Venice community to organize into a Town Council. And, as you all know, every brilliant kook in the world has resided in veniceCA at some time or another. And the Venice Town Council was their tool of choice. Vested interests who tried to push through the Marina Bypass had high expectations for their project. They had no idea how high the expectations of veniceCA could go. And it wasn’t long before the whole world knew about the Marina Bypass. The Beachhead did a great job.
At a crucial point, on a tip, some residents of the Oxford Triangle took up a collection at the intersection of Oxford Avenue and Howard Street to send a Venice Town Council member up to Sacramento to stop whatever was going on. Armed with a petition signed by the who’s who of veniceCA and little else, not even a Kleenex, the amiable veniceCA’er wandered the halls of the capitol without result. The office of the California Assembly member for the Venice district said he was very busy and perhaps an appointment might be arranged for next week. The receptionist at the office of the California Senate member for the Venice district didn’t know where the Senator was and “Who are you?”
The receptionist was not impressed with the story of taking the Senator on a bicycle trip through Venice. Bikers take note. At Nate Holden’s office, three big husky guys said “Ha, ha, and ha.”
So our rep trudged on to a dimly lit office where a kind lady offered a seat and asked what the rep was doing in the capitol. Depressed and reluctant to try the spiel once more, our rep had to be coaxed into hauling out the petition again and telling the sad story of powerful interests trying to destroy a fine community. At the end, a voice came from the darkened room beyond, “Come in here and tell me that story again.”
Well, it turns out that the Senator taking a post-prandial nap in his office had grown up in Venice! And he told the rep to bring the petition and the story to a certain committee room at three PM. And he would make sure the rep would get back to the airport on time to get home.
What does a person do in the capitol with an hour to wait? Our rep found a seat in the restroom and reviewed the notes.
Lo and behold, the senator who grew up in Venice was chairman of the subcommittee reviewing CalTrans funding. He killed the Bypass there. With the right kind of publicity, nostalgia, and the help of many other local elected officials, the Marina Bypass never got off the paper it was drawn on. The only place it ever existed was on paper and in the minds of those who wanted it.
Now the story comes to a close with a fence, an extension from the enclosure of the Water Terrace. A fence built to keep people from Venice from getting into the marina. And the fence has been built by people who live where a freeway might have been but for the work of the people they want to keep out.
In an interview July 31, a representative from the District 11 City Council office said that a city surveyor was being sent to determine exactly where the city-county line lies at the site on Thatcher Avenue where generations of Venice residents have crossed into the marina. Once that line is determined then they will try to find out if any of that land is privately owned. In the meanwhile the fence has been broken to allow persons to squeeze through. However, some are worried that bikers who are used to travelling through the area at high speed may suffer severe injury when they find they can not stop in time to miss the fence.
Posted: Fri - August 1, 2003 at 08:36 PM