Arraignment for local environmentalist Robert Jan van de Hoek has been postponed until Friday, October 20th, at the Los Angeles County Superior Court Airport Courthouse.
The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office in August charged van de Hoek, 50, of Playa del Rey, with two counts of cutting down myoporum shrubs in the Ballona Wetlands and one count of cutting down a ficus tree in Del Rey Lagoon.
He was also charged with three counts of violating sections of the Los Angeles Municipal Code prohibiting the cutting or injuring of any plant life without permission from the city Department of Recreation and Parks.
His arraignment was scheduled Thursday, October 12th, at the Airport Courthouse but was postponed until October 20th to allow the defense to consider an offer made by city prosecutors to resolve the case, said van de Hoek’s attorney, Thomas Mesereau.
The prosecution has offered to suspend the case for a period of 18 months, during which time van de Hoek will not be allowed to remove any shrubbery in the wetlands unless he has an individual permit or works for an organization that has a permit to do so, Mesereau said.
Another term of the offer would be that van de Hoek make a small donation from his organization toward an environmental project, Mesereau said.
Prosecution attorney Elizabeth Gertz said the environmental project is related to devising a master plan for the Del Rey Lagoon.
If van de Hoek were to comply with the terms of the offer during the 18 months, the prosecution would consider dismissing the charges, Mesereau said.
Gertz said the prosecution has made the offer “in an effort to come up with an amicable resolution to this matter.”
An environmentalist who has been active in efforts to preserve local wetlands, van de Hoek is co-director of the Ballona Institute in Playa del Rey, an organization that works to preserve land in the Ballona Valley.
City attorney officials said the misdemeanor vandalism charges stem from two separate incidents in August last year and one incident in March this year, in which residents and park officials allegedly observed van de Hoek cutting off branches of vegetation in the Ballona Wetlands using large pruning shears.
The vegetation that was allegedly destroyed is known to be the home of several rare and endangered bird species, according to city attorney officials.