Letters: Great Playa del Rey Flood of 1954

Posted November 11, 2015 by The Argonaut in Columns
Why Build Next to a Runway?

Re: “Why is the FAA Dragging its Feet …?” Advertisement, Oct. 29

A full-page ad signed by all seven Santa Monica City Council members that ran in last week’s issue of The Argonaut decries the FAA and Santa Monica Airport.

There’s no question that the airport is noisy and polluting, especially for homes nearby. But who allowed those homes to be built so close to an existing runway?

It’s time Santa Monica’s leaders stopped blaming everyone else and admit the city fathers allowed entire neighborhoods to encroach on the airport. What were they thinking?

Jack Keady
Playa del Rey

An El Niño storm flooded Playa del Rey in 1954 Photo by Richard Morozowicz

An El Niño storm flooded Playa del Rey in 1954
Photo by Richard Morozowicz

Remember Godzilla ’54?

Re: “Forecast: Godzilla,” Cover Story, Nov. 5

The Godzilla El Niño article by Kit Stolz was well-prepped, but nowhere in this or any other article have I seen any mention of the damage that Pacific storms caused in Playa del Rey in 1954.

The included photos that my father took show the water level at my uncle’s and parents’ TV and camera businesses at 335 and 337 Culver Blvd. after one of many storms in the winter of 1954. You can see the black waterline — tar — that oozed up from the swamp (or the “Ballona Wetlands” to non-locals) behind our homes and businesses.

You covered Acosta’s old Del Rey Cleaners toxic waste spill quite well. But why hasn’t anyone written about this past flood damage and told us how high the water could rise in Playa del Rey and Marina del Rey?

In 1954, Culver Boulevard was floating in three feet of brackish seawater as far inland as Harry’s Bait and Tackle, our next door neighbor, who suffered the same damage to his store as my parents. Black tar from Standard Oil wells, pumping in the swamp behind the businesses lining the boulevard, covered street surfaces and buildings everywhere.

The storm flooded what was the Machado property back then to Mother’s Beach north to the old Revell model factory east of Lincoln Boulevard, where Costco stands today, it might’ve been one of the main reasons Hoppyland [a Western-themed amusement park run by William Boyd, aka Hopalong Cassidy] shut down.

While the oil wells may be capped, things could still get messy. Here’s your proof from 1954.

Paul Lankovsky Mono
(P. D. Lankovsky)
Marina del Rey

Goodbye Neighbors, Hello Tourists

Re: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” News, Oct. 8

When our now “tween” daughter was growing up, there were many families on our street here in Venice with children her age. They played together, made art and did crafting together, enjoyed movie nights and sleepovers, dressed up each Halloween to trick-or-treat together and shared various other good times. It was wonderful!

Sadly, a few months ago, the last of these friends moved away, joining the others who have either sold or rented out their homes. Now our residential street has various short-term rentals with visitors coming and going. We don’t mind tourists but miss having permanent neighbors and friends to lend us a couple eggs, water the plants while we’re away or meet up with for a Super Bowl party.

We regularly use and greatly appreciate short term rentals. For example, we rent a house for the holidays in the Bay Area, down the block from our relatives, when the family that lives there is temporarily away (visiting their own relatives). Also, when we have friends coming into town who we don’t have room for at our place, we are glad for the option to accommodate them in the rear guesthouse some neighbors rent out behind their home. What concerns us are the houses and apartments being used like hotels, with no owner or long-time tenant on site.

We used to think about securing a permit to close our street off from traffic for an annual block party with all our great neighbors. Now we imagine moving away to somewhere we might regain that sense of community we’ve to a great extent lost here.

Regan Kibbee
Founder of venicemoms.net

The Venice Menace vs. Washington Boulevard

Today, an autumn day in October, was my first attempt to get to a public meeting on my scooter. Since last spring, when I gave up driving, friends and relatives help me out for night meetings or when I need help with heavy packages.

It is not my vision (20/30 one eye, 20/60 the other) that made me feel I was no longer a safe driver.  What convinced me was noting that my reaction times, when playing computer games, were getting longer.

So my decision was self-imposed. With arthritic hips that slow down my ability to walk, I bought a scooter. Critical neighbors now call me the Venice Menace.

And that’s why I was scootering toward the ocean down the sidewalk along Washington Boulevard a little after seven on a Thursday morning. I was on the way to a Neighborhood Committee meeting near Ocean Front Walk.

I would like to say it was a wonderful trip on a beautiful day. But that was not to be because ill-tended sidewalks and roadways with unmended cracks turned it into an obstacle game. That’s when I realized what a beautiful thing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is. It ought to be required reading for all politicians. And voters, too.  Because it is going to take a lot of care and money to bring this street into compliance

Washington Boulevard leads to a pier where we can see fishermen fishing, feel a salty breeze, and see all up and down the coast to other cities.

On the way home I passed a fellow committee member who was getting along, very slowly, with a cane, near the Grand Canal, a show point of the Venice atmosphere. I knew it would not be easy for him to negotiate a severely tilted sidewalk.  And to top it off, my view of the canal showed the water to be covered with debris and scum. Some view.

Here we are, the elderly, doing the best we can to live decent, caring lives. Our numbers are growing and we’d like to live our remaining lives in as harmonious a way as possible.

DeDe Audet



    Jack Keady, the negative impacts of noise, pollution, and dangers extends for miles beyond the the homes adjacent to SMO. See this geospatial visual: http://www.smofuture.com/geospatial

    Bob Gutierrez

    I read the story about the great flood of 1954 and wanted to set the record straight on the location of the Revell model company. It was on the first property north of the mall which on maxella between Glencoe ave. and Del Rey street. Having grown up on The 2300 block of Glencoe ave in the fifties we would stop by the trash can of the factory looking for rejected models. The Costco property was a car race track in the fifties and the engineering department of Douglas aircraft in the sixties. ( my dad worked there )


    Jack Keady is right when he says, “There’s no question that the airport is noisy and polluting” What really matters here is not past history, but the current noise and pollution and the negative impacts to the 170,000 people who live in the zip codes directly adjacent to the Santa Monica Airport.

      Tom O

      Donald says “What really matters here is not what happened in the past, but the current noise and pollution and other negative impacts to the 170,000 people who live in zip codes directly adjacent to the Santa Monica Airport.” I suspect that Donald wrote that “what happened in the past” doesn’t matter” because he doesn’t want readers to think about the fact that “what happened in the past” includes the decisions by every one of those 170K people who CHOSE to live near SM airport at any time after 1920, when the airport was already there. That applies even more to people who CHOSE to live near SMO since the early 1970’s, when noise, pollution, and safety risks were similar to current conditions. The airport was there first: why did you CHOOSE to live near it if you dislike it so much?

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