Be Kind – Share the Park

Re: “Sounds of Summer,” feature, July 16

On Thursday, July 30, Marina del Rey will host Vanessa Williams in concert at Burton Chace Park.

We are lucky to have her perform a free show, but not so lucky in that many attendees of the free outdoor summer concerts in the marina stake out their territory, so to speak, hours early with huge blankets and tarps — which means anyone arriving after work is forced to stand quite a distance from the stage.

A polite request to those who don’t share their space that well: Please be considerate of those who can’t arrive hours early with several large lawn chairs or blankets with which to stake out their fiefdom.

Burton Chace Park is a surprisingly small space meant to be shared with thousands. Please be considerate.

Kyle Kimbrell
Playa del Rey

The Elephant in Ballona

Re: “Into the Wild,” Sunday Drive with Joe Donnelly, July 9

While I appreciate that Joe Donnelly and his subject, environmental journalist Judith Mernit-Lewis, are shining light on the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve and hinting that there are controversies, the elephant in the living room remains. This elephant — like the wild, rare and imperiled species thriving at Ballona — desperately needs to be seen, acknowledged, understood and, instead of tip-toed around, shouted about.

Why? More than $15 million of public funds have been spent on Ballona “planning” to date with no detailed accounting, in spite of a request made by former state controller and current state treasurer John Chiang. Many millions more are planned for a project that would destroy hundreds of acres of native plants and animals. I hope that is not OK with readers of The Argonaut.  It’s not OK with the West LA Democratic Club, Sierra Club, League of Humane Voters, LAX Area Democratic Club and many others.

The premise that Donnelly’s article puts forth in the beginning is one that the captivated public agencies want people to believe: that their plans would “return the reserve to something like its natural state,” and that “doing so would require pretty major surgery — removing ‘invasive’ flora and replanting native species, tearing up levees and culverts, setting part of the stream free to meander.”

Respected historical ecologists and restoration ecologists like Dr. Margot Griswold and Dr. Travis Longcore disagree. There is nothing in the plan that the state Coastal Conservancy and its local partners have planned that mimic nature’s functions during the last 4,000 years, according to USC’s Longcore.

And much of this “major surgery” is in no way “required.”

There are numerous parts of the 640 acres at Ballona which are already in “its natural state.”  If the planners have their way, historical meandering sloughs will be excavated and destroyed, including a slough that is the terminus of a stream called Centinela Creek that began in what is now Inglewood; what ends in Ballona is all that remains. Historical salt pannes habitat where thousands of shorebirds, waterbirds and waterfowl spend the winter would be obliterated. Seasonal marsh meadows also would be bulldozed away. Dozens of species on California’s special concern lists thrive in this ecological reserve. Seven species on the endangered species list have been documented here in the last decade.

So why would there be plans afoot to completely annihilate Ballona? Good question. That’s where the elephant comes in. State agencies have been broke for the last decade. So when the primary entity entrusted with taking care of Ballona (the California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife) has not had the funding to properly even maintain fences or undertake modest ranger patrols and is then offered an overhead percentage to oversee implementation of a plan they and their biologists had no hand in planning — well, that’s the elephant. And this elephant needs careful study and scrutiny.

Marcia Hanscom
Executive Director, Ballona Institute

 Measles has Consequences

Re: “Gov. Brown Signs Mandatory Vaccinations Law,” news, July 2

Yesterday a 72-year-old gentleman presented to my office with his wife for an evaluation of a cataract in his right eye. This is a normal occurrence in his age group. His left eye was blind and scarred over. “How did this happen?” I asked. “Measles with a high fever and an eye infection in childhood” he replied.

My heart goes out to parents having to make sense of contradictory medical information on vaccinations. However, spare a thought for my patient; and spare a thought for me in three weeks when I have to operate on the patient’s one remaining good eye. No wonder my hair is falling out.

John Maher MD