to oppose Playa Vista

BY HELGA CARR

More than 1,200 residents attended a town hall meeting opposing Playa Vista Phase II, co-sponsored by Neighborhood Councils, groups and environmentalists at Venice High School Auditorium on Monday, September 20th.

The goal of the meeting was to marshal opposition to approval of the Playa Vista Phase II project by the Los Angeles City Council Wednesday, September 22nd.

Despite the large turnout for the meeting at Venice High School, the City Council voted 10-1 to approve the Playa Vista Phase II project.

Mar Vista Community Council chair Tom Ponton presented 5,000 signed petitions — more than 2,000 from Mar Vista residents — opposing Los Angeles City Council approval of the project, to local Los Angeles Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, who was invited to attend and address the audience.

Sponsors of the Monday, September 20th meeting included Mar Vista Community Council —the city-certified Mar Vista Neighborhood Council — Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council, Westchester Neighborhood Council, the Ballona Ecosystem Project, the Surfrider Foundation, the Ballona Wetlands Trust, and members of the Gabrielino/Tongva Indian Tribal Council.

Sponsors of the town hall asked Miscikowski if she would meet with them Tuesday, September 21st — the day before the City Council hearing on Playa Vista — to discuss traffic mitigation and other issues.

Miscikowski told them they could come to her office at 9 a.m.

Tom Francis of Ballona Land Trust said if the City of Los Angeles approved Phase II, “we might have to litigate.”

Rex Frankel of Ballona Ecosystem Education Project asked the city to “look at the big picture,” saying that the entire Los Angeles basin had been underwater in the past and was a flood plain, and should be treated as one.

“Should you be mad about this stupid development?” Frankel asked the audience, who cheered and applauded, shouting “yes.”

Frankel said since the City of Los Angeles is under federal orders with the Clean Water Act to clean up the Santa Monica Bay, preserving the Ballona Wetlands to allow it to remain a watershed and cleaning the bay was more cost-effective than developing the project.

“The taxpayers paid $225 million to Playa Vista for the parcels to be preserved, Playa Vista didn’t give that to the taxpayers,” said Frankel.

Francis told the audience to stand up if they opposed the Playa Vista project and nearly all of the 1,200 attendees stood up, applauding and cheering.

Francis said a permanent end should be put to the experience of the “Playa Vista mistake.”

Francis pointed out that the City of Los Angeles claims there is an extreme housing shortage, but the city allowed thousands of homes to be bulldozed by Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that operates four city-owned airports.

“I implore you to wait — hold off on Playa Vista Phase II — you’re hearing from the community tonight,” Francis told Miscikowski.

Julie Inouye of We CAHRE — a local organization that was organized to keep the Daniel Freeman

Marina Hospital open —told the audience that she had been part of an early group to study environmental impacts of Playa Vista.

“We had great visions of what could be developed here, but after the Playa Capital Company took over and the visitor center went up, those visions of greatness unraveled,” said Inouye.

Joe Geever, Southern California Regional Manager for Surfrider Foundation, said the city is missing the big picture.

The loss of wetlands and water pollution are destroying the coastal environment, Geever said.

The city was given eight years to comply in cleaning urban water runoff through the Clean Water Act compliance, said Geever.

John Tommy Rosas, a member of the Gabrielino/Tongva Indian Tribal Council told the audience, “You can’t live outside of nature.”

Rosas spoke about Indian burial remains found during bulldozing at the Playa Vista development, alleging that the developers don’t recognize indigenous people.

Miscikowski said that because of the work of all these groups and individuals, Playa Vista had downsized its original plan, and a methane gas ordinance had been approved.

Miscikowski said she had met with Bill Pope, Mar Vista Community Council traffic analyst, and had received information regarding traffic mitigation.

The audience interrupted Miscikowski, shouting, “just say no” several times.

The councilwoman also praised the purchase by the state of land from Playa Vista for preservation. Miscikowski said the Indian burial remains issue was being handled in a respectful manner.

“We can’t stop the world,” said Miscikowski, bringing loud “boos” from the audience.

Miscikowski said long-time residents of Manchester Square had contacted her predecessor, Ruth Galanter, about the noise and pollution, and the result had been Los Angeles World Airports buying the property for the airport.

Pope said he has worked with the traffic problem and Miscikowski more than a year, comparing the fallacies of the Playa Vista environmental impact report and actual traffic.

Pope thanked Miscikowski for the concessions gained from Playa Vista, and that she had assured him that Playa Vista would now adhere to policies and laws.

Laura Burns of Grass Roots Venice Neighborhood Council said the projected 96 additional projects in the Playa Vista EIR in the community don’t reflect all new development currently planned.

Burns said that one project was identified on the EIR as being in Santa Monica, when it is actually a Venice project.

Traffic studies for this project are erroneous if they studied traffic for Santa Monica rather than Venice, Burns said.

Tom Chesney of the Westchester Neighbors Association asked that no approval be given to Playa Vista until the first phase is completed, and there is an indication that traffic mitigation has worked.

“I am concerned that Playa Vista is not being held accountable in assessing traffic, police, school, fire and residential services,” said Chesney.

Maritza Przekop, chair of Mar Vista Urban Planning Committee, said the community is concerned that there won’t be a view of the Westchester Bluffs nor the Loyola Marymount University (LMU) sign from the hills in Mar Vista when tall Playa Vista buildings are built.

She asked for a height limitation on Playa Vista buildings that would be in front of the LMU sign and the bluffs.

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