Posted August 12, 2015 by The Argonaut in Columns

The Argonaut congratulates contributing writer Shanee Edwards on being one of five winners of The Next MacGyver screenwriting competition, a contest hosted in July by “MacGyver” creator Lee Zlotoff, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, the National Academy of Engineering and The Paley Center for Media.

Shanee’s TV pilot concept, “Ada and the Machine,” is about a young mathematician working to build a steam-powered computer in the 1830s. Shanee will be mentored by actress-producer America Ferrera and Gabrielle Neimand of Take Fountain Productions. Read more about it at thenextmacgyver.com/finalists.html.

Letter Misrepresented Ballona Restoration Plans

Re: “The Elephant in Ballona,” letters, July 23

The letter that followed Joe Donnelly’s story about Judith Lewis Mernit and the Ballona Wetlands (“Into the Wild,” July 9) requires a response because it contains many misstatements of fact and it is important that the public not be left with the impression that claims made in the letter are true.

First, there is the claim that the Ballona Wetlands restoration project “would destroy hundreds of acres of native plants and animals” including “wild, rare and imperiled species.” Only certain areas, like the dunes and parts of Area B that are still functioning as tidal salt marsh (approximately 30 acres), are home to most of these, according to the Bay Foundation’s baseline reports, available online. Non-native vegetation and wildlife dominate upland habitats. Until the EIR/EIS becomes available for scrutiny, any statement about the restoration’s effects on these species, if any, is pure speculation.

Second, “[There are] numerous parts of the 640 acres at Ballona that are already in ‘its natural state.’” Considering the insults mankind has imposed on the wetlands, the term “natural state” covers very little. Yes, some areas are still functioning ecologically, such as the tidal salt marsh and the dunes. Unfortunately, these areas total some 30 acres, not 640.

Third, “Historical meandering sloughs will be excavated and destroyed including [remnants of] Centinela Creek, and the salt panne [will be] obliterated.” This statement is flat-out false. None of the alternatives are even considering obliterating the salt panne or destroying the drainage runoff “creek” that the letter writer calls Centinela. In fact, the value of the salt panne is freely acknowledged and is one of the reasons that habitat type is being preserved and enhanced in each of the alternatives.

Fourth, “… dozens of species of special concern thrive [now].” Thrive? More likely, are just barely hanging on in the limited habitat they have. Until we see the EIR/EIS there is no way to determine the extent to which these species will be affected, positively or negatively.

I would remind the letter writer that in the past she opposed every improvement at Ballona: the freshwater marsh which is now thriving; the installation of adjustable tide gates allowing more water into Ballona (successfully increasing the endangered Beldings Savannah sparrow population for the first time); and the Friends’ dune program, which has brought back native species formerly smothered by ice plant (its latest success being the return of the El Segundo blue butterfly). In addition, she opposed the wonderfully successful restoration of the Malibu Lagoon. All of these wrongheaded opinions, some of which even went as far as filing lawsuits, delayed the projects and cost unnecessary dollars.

Having participated in the EIR/EIS process in the past, the letter writer is well aware that what eventually emerges may not be what is originally proposed. Making false statements that will only inflame the public and lead to wrong conclusions does a great disservice to the process. I implore everyone who wishes to become involved to respect good science, to refrain from baseless statements, to study the facts, to keep an open mind, and to join in the effort to see that the final restoration plan encourages the best wetland ecosystem possible at Ballona.                               Ruth Lansford

Friends of Ballona Wetlands
Board of Directors


Re: “Into the Wild,” Sunday Drive with Joe Donnelly, July 9

Nice story. The Ballona Wetlands are truly a remarkable resource. However, there is something of a false narrative that disagreement over what should be done at Ballona is causing the project delays. Regardless of whether a particular plan is ecologically sound, the management of that plan must also be sound. An overly bureaucratic system in which no one entity seems accountable has taken shape at Ballona over the last 10 years or so, and we’re going to have to change that if we want a successful outcome for current generations of people and wildlife.                               Walter Lamb

Ballona Wetlands Land Trust

Re: “The Dwellification of Venice,” opinion, July 23

It’s like watching a wonderfully eccentric and treasured friend die. Every day we see more and more signs that the end is drawing closer. Breaks my heart. There will never be another Venice. Cold minds are taking the place of warm hearts here. Lots of money pouring in but many still are forced to sleep on the streets with little to no assistance. In fact, developers are calling for more and more criminalization of the poor and vulnerable to drive them out. Property values rule the day. This slash-and-burn gentrification that is creating Silicon Beach in place of our beloved Venice is frankly ugly in every way.

Deborah Lashever

Re: “7  Scary Places to Ride a Bike,” CicLAvia feature, Aug. 6

Somebody forgot to mention all the pedestrians walking on the bikeway in Venice and Santa Monica. Now that’s a real hazard for both walkers and bikers. We need a new law to keep pedestrians off the bikeway and to make the bikeway wider and possibly one way on two separate paths — one path northbound and one path southbound. It’s far too dangerous the way it is now.        John B.


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