The Ballona Wetlands needs less opinion and more objective factual analysis Editor: The March 31 letter from David Kay (Jane Velez-Mitchell and the Ballona Wetlands) continues a decades-long pattern of misinformation being justified by a highly emotional “us against them” approach to what should be a fact-based discussion. Dr. Kay has never expressed any interest in an objective analysis of the available facts. He is playing the role of a salesperson whose sole objective is for the public to buy what he is selling. Our organizational approach has been, and continues to be, to help surface all of the relevant facts in the proper context, not only those that we believe support our position that the current restoration plans for Ballona, as designed, would be extremely counterproductive to the long-term health of the wetlands. Dr. Kay suggests that the proposed plan would benefit Belding’s Savannah Sparrow (BSS), even though the environmental impact analysis unequivocally acknowledges the near-term destruction of existing BSS habitat (see page 603 of the EIR) and, more importantly, the loss of virtually all BSS habitat to sea level rise by the turn of the century (see pages 547 and 275 of the EIR). This is a mind-bogglingly counter-intuitive outcome for a “restoration” project that is priced at $182 million. When presented with the maps and data showing this concerning outcome, in an open public forum, Dr. Kay...Read More
Getting LAUSD kids back into the classroom By Nick Melvoin This past year has been exceptionally difficult for the students, families, teachers and staff of the Los Angeles Unified School District, and as your representative on the school board, I am excited that we will soon finally welcome students back into the classroom. COVID-19 cases are declining, vaccines are being distributed, and we’ve learned a lot about which precautions help keep kids and staff safe. We have also reached an agreement with our teachers’ union to begin the recovery process from this crisis by safely reopening schools for in-person instruction in a hybrid model. Here’s what reopening will look like: We will begin reopening some elementary schools on April 12, with the remaining schools returning the following week. Elementary students who would like to return to campus will have three hours of in-person instruction Monday through Friday. In addition, to ease the transition back to campus, we’re going a step further by offering families the options of on-campus child care and extra enrichment activities. Of course, for those students who choose to continue learning remotely for the time being, schools will provide three hours of live virtual instruction. Middle and high school students will be able to return to campus on April 26. Students will learn in stable in-person cohorts, allowing them to preserve individual course loads and schedules...Read More
Jane Velez-Mitchell and the Ballona Wetlands Editor: Many who read the Argonaut’s exposé on former local TV news anchor and journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell (Argonaut, 3/25/21) will laud her activism on animal care and climate change issues. Her views and actions on the Ballona Wetlands Restoration Project, however, are seriously misguided and grossly uninformed. As a journalist, “unchained” or not, she should know better than to ignore the facts. Her publicly stated views on Ballona at local meetings and events simply parrot decades of outright lies fabricated by other activists who are well-known opponents of the state’s restoration plan. Her advocacy will only serve to harm, not help, either nature or people at Ballona and should be soundly rejected. The so-called “gentle” restoration alternative, now the rallying cry of Ms. Velez-Mitchell and her allies, was carefully evaluated and unequivocally rejected by the in-depth scientific and legal review performed through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Environmental Impact studies. This “gentle” approach was rejected because it does virtually nothing to undo and correct the extensive ecological damage inflicted upon Ballona by Marina del Rey’s construction and many other development infills over the past century. The “gentle” alternative also does nothing to replace the obsolete, massive and tide-choking concrete Ballona Creek channel, which the Fish and Wildlife plan will replace with modern, vegetated flood control features. Neither does the “gentle” alternative protect...Read More
Federal solutions are needed to address nation’s growing homeless populations By Dr. Coley M. King After living on the streets of Venice for many months, Morris celebrated his 77th birthday in a motel room, thanks to the dedication of outreach workers at St. Joseph Center and a room made available through Project Roomkey. This state and county program, aimed at reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission among people experiencing homelessness, relies on federal funds to provide motel rooms and supportive services to many of our patients, like Morris, who receive health care from myself and other members of Venice Family Clinic’s nine street medicine teams. The COVID-19 pandemic removed many bureaucratic obstacles, including opportunities for opponents to halt such projects, that have impeded other homeless housing programs. While falling short of its goals, this pandemic-inspired program homeless housing programs. While falling short of its goals, this pandemic-inspired program validated that with the infusion of federal funds and a real sense of urgency, we can house our homeless neighbors. This seems an insurmountable goal with an estimated 568,000 people experiencing homelessness across the country. But the rapid creation of Project Roomkey in California, a new president and a Democratically controlled Congress provide new hope that the nation can – in addition to battling COVID-19 – address the national emergency of homelessness with comprehensive and effective solutions. President Biden has already vowed to develop a national...Read More
Could This End Differently? Editor: The Main Street outdoor dining al fresco layout we now have has proven far less than the effective rescue plan it promised to be. The good news is that efforts are afoot to experiment with modifications in hopes of moving toward success — becoming a popular social and business district anchored by a thriving restaurant/bar customer base. The bad news is that these efforts are moving at a glacial pace. Let me declare my own bias — I objected to the center traffic corridor with scattered parking lane parklet seating for socially distanced outdoor dining when it first hatched nearly a year ago. My primary reason was that rather than spreading out serving areas to provide space for enough outdoor socially distanced diners to pay the rent and the employees, it presented choke points where the sidewalk was funneled between store fronts and small corrals of parklet customers with their crowds overflowing or folks just waiting for their place at one of the few parklet seats for service. Near equal in importance was my sense that bike lane and vehicle traffic close by made outdoor dining far less enticing than eating in an open-air piazza should be. I certainly wouldn’t want bicyclists sneezing on my guacamole as they wheeled by two feet from my table. I felt all the stakeholders for Main Street not becoming a semi-wasteland,...Read More
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