A different take on wetland drainage system
Re: “Removing wetland drains would impact plant resources,” (Argonaut letters, July 25).
It is very disconcerting that the Friends of Ballona Wetlands would show such indifference to Playa Vista installing unpermitted drainage devices in the wetlands. The letter writer and his organization have lost the credibility to defend the devices, having consistently defended Playa Vista for many years against any calls for accountability or environmental sensibility.
The letter writer and the Friends most recently became the loudest cheerleader of the Annenberg Foundation’s attempt to construct a new, 46,000-square foot building on top of restorable upland habitat in Area C of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve, which would include a center for domestic dogs and cats, a project long desired personally by Wallis Annenberg.
We’ve done our best to reach out to the Friends of Ballona Wetlands to find common ground, but to no avail. We’ve also made a point to compliment the Friends’ existing educational programs in Area B of the reserve, and to recognize that many of this organization’s staff and volunteers have a sincere passion for this ecosystem.
However, the numerous comments and actions from their president, and years of counter-productive support for whichever entity has the most money and political power, have them teetering dangerously close to “green-washing” territory, and our organization cannot effectively pursue our own conservation mission without making a comment.
It should be remembered that the organization was content for Area C to be swallowed into the Playa Vista development, creating an unnecessary headwind for organizations like ours, who were nonetheless successful in having it included in the protected reserve after years of hard work. Since agreeing to a premature legal settlement with the developers years ago, the Friends of Ballona Wetlands have been Playa Vista’s most reliable voice of support when other organizations try to hold them accountable to the public interest.
The lines between Playa Vista and the Friends of Ballona Wetlands are dangerously blurred at this point. It is no surprise that the Annenberg Foundation hired the same lobbyist from the same firm that formerly represented Playa Vista. Rather than leaping in with a full-throated defense of these unpermitted drainage devices, the letter writer and the Friends of Ballona Wetlands should be urging the California Coastal Commission to conduct a timely, objective and transparent investigation of the devices.
The letter writer should also indicate whether he or anyone in his organization had prior knowledge of these drainage devices, as both scenarios raise important questions. It is unsettling that the Friends and other organizations, such as the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, who have so confidently stressed their scientific knowledge of this ecosystem, were apparently unaware of a fairly conspicuous drainage system. All of these organizations ought to be issuing public statements regarding what they knew of this system and why they didn’t know more or do more about it.
We look forward to hearing the official conclusions of the Coastal Commission. The Friends of Ballona Wetlands’ unconditional support of Playa Vista aside, the developer needs to be held accountable for any unpermitted development. A simple slap on the wrist and after-the-fact permit would send a terrible message to developers across the state.
Walter Lamb
President
Ballona Wetlands Land Trust

Pier 44 overhaul a ‘further destruction’ of the Marina
Re: “Design Control Board supports proposed redevelopment of Pier 44,” (Argonaut, July 25).
This proposal is a continuation of the county destroying Marina del Rey, and transforming it into a city, including up to and also out and over the water.
The article says, “Among the goals of the development are to increase and improve view corridors…” There are no buildings at all obscuring the views of the water and the boats now, so how do you improve unobstructed views? There is now a clear view on all three sides of the water and the boats.
The article says, “… improve public access to the water…” That statement is inane. It is not a beach, so access to walk into this water is not necessary. If by “access” it is meant to see the water and the boats in it, that is entirely possible now as it is, and will not be possible with buildings all around it.
A “corridor” is hardly a view; in a marina, unobstructed views of the water and boats is what one wants and expects to see, as it is now.
The article says, “… design buildings complementary to the location on the Marina waterfront.” Buildings of any design are buildings, and buildings obstruct views, therefore to say “buildings complementary… to the Marina waterfront,” is also inane.
Markets, retail spaces, etc,, belong in cities, not here in Marina del Rey, hiding the fact that there is supposed to be a marina somewhere behind the wall of two-story restaurants, businesses, retail stores, parking lots, tons of concrete, traffic congestion, fumes and noise.
This proposal is no “boaters’ paradise,” as the applicant states; it is a further destruction of Marina del Rey.
Roslyn E. Walker
Marina del Rey

Block vehicle access to Venice Boardwalk
The tragedy at Venice Beach affords the opportunity to make the necessary changes that keep pedestrians safe.
Vehicle access to the boardwalk needs to be restricted. I have noticed many times how tourists and alike get lost or assume vehicle access to the boardwalk is legal, especially in the evening.
While the circumstances and results of this tragedy have some similarities to what occurred at the Santa Monica Farmers Market a decade ago, the primary difference is that the Santa Monica driver was a senior citizen who lost control of the vehicle while the driver on Aug. 3 clearly and intentionally sought to harm innocent lives.
Such random alleged criminal intent could not have been anticipated by anyone until now.
The second difference is that the farmers market is a temporary place of gathering while the Venice Boardwalk is a permanent destination of pedestrians as well as bicyclists, skaters and visitors to the beach.
The issue of car access needs to be restricted with additional and permanent barriers. Police officers need to be mobile in terms of their own access that would include bikes, horses and additional coverage along the route of the boardwalk. An additional police presence along Pacific Avenue as well as additional traffic personnel denying access to the beach along those various dead-end streets would further protect pedestrians and high volume beach visitation.
All of those dead-end streets that spill upon the boardwalk need to be redesigned so that car access is restricted to emergency vehicles. One way to do that is to open a permanent and active public safety center that could house police, fire and EMT service all at one location. Given the volume of visitation during peak summer months as well as the general visitation during the rest of the year, such a facility could further enhance response and tactical deployment of the city’s first response teams.
Asking why such a tragedy could occur is frustrating since one cannot understand the mind of such an individual who would do such a thing. But preparation and rethinking how the boardwalk operates is certainly something that needs to be entertained so that the chance of this reoccurring is not possible.
N.J. Antonicello
Venice Beach

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