Community News

MCA and the degaussing station

Last month’s front-page article about the possibility of a restaurant in the degaussing station contained a number of inaccurate statements about the Marina Community Association. The article included quotes from people who claim to have “heard” things, but at no time did the Marina Times approach anyone at MCA to ask their perspective on what happened.

None of what follows is intended to advocate for or against a restaurant at the Marina degaussing station. The purpose of this column is simply to correct the inaccuracies in the February article.

In February 2010, the Recreation and Park Department first raised the possibility of a restaurant in the degaussing station. MCA immediately told RPD that would violate the prohibition on commercial activity in Chapters 437 and 942 of the California Statutes.

The city attorney responded with an opinion letter and plot maps, stating that the degaussing station is outside the area covered by the commercial restrictions. In early 2010 MCA reminded RPD that the degaussing station had been found to be seismically unsound.

The degaussing station project was discussed at the MCA 2010 annual general meeting, which unfortunately had low attendance due to the World Series.

In spring 2011 MCA hand-delivered a letter to every house on Marina Boulevard, warning of plans to convert the degaussing station into a cafe. The letter asked that the recipient contact MCA and get involved. MCA received only one reply from all of Marina Boulevard.

In May 2011 the MCA column in the Marina Times addressed the degaussing station. In February 2012 Woodhouse made a presentation to the MCA Board. MCA expressed concern that any operation be limited to park hours. In July 2012 Woodhouse and RPD made another presentation to the MCA Board saying that they intended to keep open until 9.30 p.m. seven days a week. MCA protested to RPD about the extended hours.

On Aug. 3, 2012, MCA sent a description of the project to all MCA members living on Marina Boulevard in the blocks closest to the degaussing station, asking them to complete a survey. Only 11 people opened the e-mail and none completed the survey.

On Aug. 6, 2012, MCA sent an e-mail and survey to 394 members, 198 of whom opened the mail and 78 completed the survey. The respondents were asked to express their level of support for the project, with 10 being strong support and 1 being strong opposition. The average of all responses was 6.98. They were also asked if they supported the project moving forward, and 67 percent answered “yes.”

On Aug. 14, 2012, the MCA directors voted in favor of supporting the Woodhouse proposal for the restaurant in the degaussing station, and MCA sent a letter to the Recreation and Park Commission urging them to include language in the lease that would limit Woodhouse to a six month trial period during which there would be strict monitoring of noise complaints, compliance with agreed operating hours, impact of lighting on neighbors, garbage, ABC compliance, and city health code violations. MCA recommended a community meeting at the end of six months to evaluate the impact on the neighborhood.

In September 2012, the RPC voted to accept the MCA trial period suggestions to amend the Woodhouse lease. On Oct. 2, 2012, MCA sent an e-mail to all members relating the RPC decision.

At the Nov. 14, 2012, annual general meeting of over 100 MCA members, representatives of Woodhouse and RPD were present to answer questions. At a Nov. 19, 2012, meeting at City Hall, some of the most ardent opponents were people whom MCA had been begging to get involved for almost two years – without success.

The Marina Times article relies heavily on statements by Peter Fortune. Mr. Fortune claimed never to have received any of the e-mails from MCA about the project. That is not surprising, since he did not become an MCA member until November 2012. Presumably he was not interested enough in this project to respond to any of the MCA outreach over the prior two years. On Dec. 19, 2012, MCA sent an e-mail to Mr. Fortune offering to use the MCA membership e-mail list to send Mr. Fortune’s own opposing opinions to our members. He has never responded to that offer. Apparently he preferred to spread his unfounded allegations in the pages of the Marina Times.

The Marina Times also attempts to confuse the degaussing station issue with the completely unrelated proposal for a Pet Food Express store on Lombard Street.

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