Wants some of Prop. 12 funds used to save Egret Park

To the Editor:

As active members of the Committee to Complete the Park (a group of residents working in the Playa del Rey area to save coastal open space from development), we thank you for your recent articles about issues affecting the Ballona Wetlands area.

We commend Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s strong public voice in the unfinished business of preserving the integrity of this precious resource. Limiting the proliferation of billboards is an important part of this effort. But going deeper to the heart of the matter are the related topics of wetlands restoration and the acquisition and preservation of as-yet-unprotected open space.

While the Ballona Wetlands Restoration Project moves along in the planning process for a major overhaul that would cost many millions of dollars, we want to remind people that the Proposition 12 money being tapped for this was designated for acquisition as well as restoration of ecologically sensitive areas.

For a small fraction of the dollars estimated for a big restoration project, some Prop. 12 money could be used for immediate acquisition of the small but precious Egret Park, at the north end of Del Rey Lagoon — a piece of land that provides open space, habitat, and flight paths vital for the healthy functioning of the Ballona ecosystem.

Many elected officials, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilman Bill Rosendahl, and State Assemblyman Ted Lieu, have expressed strong public support and willingness to aid our efforts to save Egret Park from development. We urge all interested community members to thank these officials for their support, and to encourage their efforts to bring about the purchase of this land. Voices have been raised about this very same issue for at least 30 years — let’s finally get it resolved!

MaryEllen Ladd and Herb Lutz, Playa del Rey

Preserve the wetlands, don’t tear it up under guise of restoration

To the Editor:

At the Loyola meeting regarding the Ballona Wetlands “restoration,” the government-invited biologist [jokingly responding to a question about the fate of animals at her project] said, “we killed them all.” Some people in the audience laughed, but I do not think it is funny. In fact, if this is the truth, nothing is more heartbreaking. So much work and effort by so many to protect the Ballona Wetlands and its wildlife now seems futile.

The Friends of Ballona’s Web site claims they want to protect Ballona, yet they are willing to welcome, to the now-preserved lands, dozens of bulldozers which will dredge the life out of the wetlands and grasslands.

We need to preserve the Ballona Wetlands, not tear it up under the guise of “restoration.”

I hope the public continues to show its support of Ballona preservation, through groups like the Ballona Institute, who have a deep respect for the animals and the plants that make up the system now.

Wendy Rennert, Playa del Rey

Wants wetlands restoration that ‘respects the processes of nature’

To the Editor:

Thank you for reporting on the Ballona Wetlands restoration planning.

Especially interesting were the different views of Ballona Institute, Friends of Ballona Wetlands and Ballona Ecosystems Education Project.

While Ballona Institute and Ballona Ecosystem Education Project clearly have the best interests of the wildlife and ecology in mind, I found it very intriguing that the Friends of Ballona Wetlands continue to be compliant with authority, as Playa Vista developers taught them to do, not asking questions but expressing complete faith in “the process.”

If others of us had done that, more than 600 acres of land at Ballona would never have been preserved.

We need restoration that respects the processes of nature.

Susan Suntree, Santa Monica

Writer should complain directly to Sheriff’s Dept. about RV parking

To the Editor:

I understand the letter writer’s frustration with the Sheriff’s Department. for not enforcing the no RVs, no overnight parking restrictions in the Marina Parking Lot #5.

However, rather than writing multiple letters to The Argonaut he should complain directly to the Sheriff’s Department. If that doesn’t produce any results he can contact the office of his supervisor. It’s unfortunate that people don’t obey the posted signs, but taking a photo of the sign and then quoting it in The Argonaut is not likely to change anyone’s behavior.

The letter writer finds it “truly amazing” that the Sheriff’s Department apparently doesn’t read The Argonaut. I have no idea whether they read The Argonaut or not, but they are certainly under no legal or other obligation to do so. If you want something done, complain to those who are in a position to take action to resolve your problem.

Ed Schoch, Westchester

We must restore the habitat that wetland wildlife needs to survive

To the Editor:

This letter is in response to letters in the issue of June 18th, “Says wetlands not in better hands with Dept. of Fish & Game” and “Supports a balanced ecosystem approach for wetlands project.”

Once there was a wetland. It was big, over 2,000 acres. For thousands, perhaps millions of years it teemed with wildlife: birds, fish, frogs, lizards, invertebrates — the animals that depend upon this unique place between land and sea to survive.

Then, in a little over 100 years, people almost destroyed it.

First there was Venice and its canals, then oil drilling, then changing Ballona Creek into a flood control channel and walling off wetland streams from the creek. After that came the Marina and a deluge of development. Today there are only 600 acres left of Ballona.

The dredge spoils from all this destruction were dumped atop a large portion of the remaining marsh, turning it into upland. And the wetland dependent animals died. The plants and creatures they fed on disappeared, buried under tons of dirt. The migrating birds had nowhere to rest and nest. The California Least Tern and Beldings Savannah Sparrow joined the endangered list. Fish could no longer spawn at Ballona’s streams, depopulating Santa Monica Bay.

Meanwhile, upland creatures and flora became dominant at what was once wetland. The “upland” north of the creek mentioned in the second letter is a perfect example of what was flourishing wetland habitat, destroyed by dredge spoils. It’s a pleasant place to walk, but is that enough reason to prevent the healing of a wetland?

Friends of Ballona Wetlands began the long battle to save Ballona over 30 years ago. Finally, the state bought it.

Now we see the ludicrous spectacle of people who joined the campaign to save Ballona, citing the fact that over 95 percent of California wetlands are gone, suddenly urging that Ballona remain at least 49 percent upland in the name of “the people.” Just let it stay degraded becauseÖwell, because we like it this way.

Some people fought against the freshwater marsh, claiming it would be nothing but a “polluted runoff basin.” Today, it supports more wildlife than the entire wetland, including nesting species that haven’t been seen there in many years.

Some fought against replacing the old flap gates with self-regulating tide gates allowing some salt water into the parched wetland. The new gates have brought the first increase in the endangered Beldings Savannah Sparrow population in over 30 years.

A vendetta seems to be aimed at Fish and Game, probably because those who were spoiled by free access were suddenly constrained. They could no longer enter at will, chop down bushes as they wished or plant anything they wanted. They could no longer disrupt legal activities at the wetland.

Fish and Game manages wetland preserves throughout California. Many have been restored — and they’re beautiful. It couldn’t have been done without the bulldozers that have removed tons of dredge spoils, restored ocean connections and brought back the types of wildlife we killed in the last century.

The whole purpose of spending the money to buy Ballona is to restore a wetland.

Ballona is all that is left between Point Mugu and Bolsa Chica. Leaving it as it is or doing a weak, inadequate restoration would be fatally destructive and should not be considered. Yes, there are many things we love about this sad remnant of a once magnificent wetland, but we who have almost destroyed it owe a debt that we must repay by restoring the habitat wetland wildlife needs to survive.

Ruth Lansford, Founder, Friends of Ballona Wetlands

Commission ‘correct’ in rejecting Venice overnight parking districts was correct to do

To the Editor:

Spurred by the Venice Neighborhood Council and the Venice Stakeholders Association, the City of Los Angeles adopted the idea that barring coastal visitors from early morning (2 a.m. to 6 a.m.) parking in Venice would be a great way to solve the problem of nuisance vehicles on residential streets.

The city then developed a plan that would take the highly-restricted parking situation in Venice Beach (west of Main) and make it worse both by prohibiting residents from parking on some of our own streets (the ones on the “other side” of arbitrary dividing lines) and, later, by removing a healthy amount of off-street parking from our use in order to satisfy visitor coastal access requirements of the Coastal Act.

Both Councilman Bill Rosen-dahl and VNC Chair Mike Newhouse found themselves offering significant amendments to the commission to address these basic flaws as they spoke June 11th.

The Coastal Commission allows parking restrictions near the coast when settling conflicts between coastal residents and coastal visitors, and demands that the needs of both be satisfactorily met. In this case the city was asking to do real harm to both coastal residents and visitors in order to “have a tool” to address problems associated with homelessness and near homelessness. That is why the commission overwhelmingly rejected the city’s proposals, and why it was correct to do so.

Chris Plourde, Venice

California Coastal Commission decision insults people of Venice

To the Editor:

It was a curious decision that the California Coastal Commission (CCC) made on June 11th when it turned down the permit application of the City of Los Angeles for overnight parking districts (OPDs). Even more curious was the coalition of RV dwellers mingling with owners of some of the most valuable land in the world who turned out to voice their opinions against OPD.

The CCC decision forces the city into banning oversized vehicles (RVs) from the streets in Venice because most (a 60 percent vote says so) residents do not want RVs permanently parked or other vehicles stored in front of their homes.

But tourism is a key industry in California, which is also the home of many RV manufacturers. The CCC decision will not be well received by the tourist industry when and if RV parking is banned.

The OPDs would allow daytime sharing of parking on public streets with visitors. It would also direct visitors to properly maintained and safe RV parks for the nighttime hours. Overnight RV parks are businesses that depend on tourism.

OPDs would also discourage visitors from renting RVs in order to park for free overnight on public streets near Venice Beach, one of the largest tourist attractions in the Los Angeles area. Motels and the jobs this industry brings to the area must be considered.

The CCC vote on OPD followed commissioner statements, in their discussion of the pros and cons of the permit, that the Venice community has “social problems.”

I daresay that Venice is one of the most socially conscious areas of California. Through the Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) and the many liberal groups centered in Venice, the community spends much effort to find reasonable ways to share the limited parking available. And City Councilman Bill Rosendahl placed a motion with the city to provide off-street parking for RV dwellers in need of help.

By their statements regarding social problems, the CCC insulted the City of Los Angeles and the people of Venice who are doing their best to share limited parking in a humane way.

DeDe Audet,, Venice

How to get ‘free’ graffiti removal and bulky trash items picked up

To the Editor:

Not sure if this is print/post worthy, but I’m a Venice resident and I’m sick to death of the seeming apathy/ignorance my fellow residents have for requesting graffiti removal or calling in to get their discarded bulky items picked up from the streets and alleys. I don’t know if people don’t know or don’t care, but these services are provided to residents for “free” (They are paid for by taxes and part of everyone’s DWP fees – so perhaps “No extra charge” is the right term).

Here is the contact information about these very useful services:

http://anti-graffiti.lacity.org/welcome.cfm and

http://www.lacity.org/san/solid_resources/refuse/service_request.htm

Forgive me if this comes off as ranting, but Venice could be so much prettier if people showed some pride in their neighborhood and spent just a few minutes reporting both graffiti and dumping on their streets and in their alleys. Here’s something we’re paying for that we can use right now with immediate effect. Venetians, get your money’s worth!

As Ernest Hemingway wrote: “Enjoying living was learning to get your money’s worth and knowing when you had it.”

Jesse Boggs, Venice

Editor’s note: There is also a grafitti hotline 1-800-611-2489 that connects the caller to Operation Clean Sweep, which works through community-based grafitti removal programs. According to the Web site LACP.org, the work is done by volunteers and those who have received community service time through the courts.

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