Won’t Somebody Challenge the LADWP?

Re: “The DWP is Out of Control,” Opinion, Aug. 11

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti promised us real reform and cost control when he was elected in 2013, yet he and the City Council have done nothing about the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

As detailed in Mr. Rappleye’s opinion article, the LADWP provides zero accountability to the customers it serves.

The theft of city funds in the two trusts should have resulted in a criminal investigation by the city attorney’s office, but again nothing happened. Where is City Attorney Mike Feuer on this matter? Instead, the City Attorney’s office wastes resources on lawsuits which deny access to medical marijuana and meaningless zoning challenges.

The LADWP is asking for some of the highest rates in California, and businesses will continue to leave under the proposed increases. But there is no doubt the L.A. City Council will buckle and approve the new rates.

All of this occurs while the LADWP needlessly burns coal 24 hours a day. There is no real movement to stop burning coal and transition to clean energy by our ‘environmental’ mayor. Photo ops don’t clean up the environment.

We need real reform of the LADWP, but the current political apparatchik appears not to have the backbone.

George Gantz

Affordable Housing Leaves Local Homeless Behind

Re: “An Investment in Our Community,” Letters, July 28

As a resident of the Glencoe and Beach avenues neighborhood, I welcome the Gateway Apartments and its occupants.

Finally, our community has begun to address the problems of the less fortunate.

But were the most vulnerable included in this first step?

I have concerns regarding the selection process for tenants. During the three years I have lived here I’ve seen the same homeless citizens residing on our streets. The ex-Marine dependent on donations he receives at the corner of Maxella Avenue and Lincoln Boulevard. The young guy who calls a doorway at a commercial building on Glencoe his home. The most heartbreaking sight of all is the elderly gentleman who struggles to walk foraging through the trash outside the grocery store.

Nothing on our streets has changed. The same faces, the same cars and the same RVs
still call Glencoe Avenue home. Were these longtime residents, our neighbors, given the opportunity to apply for residency at Gateway?

As mother would say, “Charity begins at home.”

Cheryl McCarthy Walder
Marina del Rey

Luxury Homeless Housing isn’t Helping

Re: “Say No to the Homeless Tax,” Opinion, July 21

The recent column by Mark Ryavec was perceptive and intelligent. I want to vote for the homeless tax, but government cannot be trusted.

Government is much to blame for the housing shortage, and a deferred permit plan could help. The city could take back an equity interest in the property for certain qualified projects, then collect fees plus interest when a certificate of occupancy is ready.

Single room occupancy (SRO) units are the most cost-efficient way to go. Restrain bureaucracy and high-priced designs. Build with simplified systems to control costs. Both urban and suburban neighborhoods should include some buildings that offer basic housing units for no- or low-income citizens, with much smaller square footages than current projects.

The idea is not to ghettoize any particular area but to spread lower-cost housing all around. This will increase economic diversity and spread lower-income workers to more areas.

The Gateway Apartments in Del Rey produced 20 units at a cost of $10 million. The Star Apartments on Skid Row produced 102 units (and a rooftop running track) for $40 million. The cost per unit is a genuine scandal. Working people will resent and resist such expensive construction that ultimately benefits so few while so many are in need.

Peter Griswold
Marina del Rey

Where’s the Wildlife at Oxford Basin?

Re: “A New Beginning for Oxford Basin,” News, July 14

Let’s not forget: Counter to the desires of local nature lovers, during the 2014 rainy season L.A. County chain-sawed 650 mature trees at Oxford Basin Lagoon. The destruction included several flowering eucalyptus trees being used by Monarch butterflies as a wintering home and a landmark eucalyptus tree used by osprey, a fishing hawk, as a high perch.

Despite public protest to protect the Monarch wintering site and the high natural perch of the osprey, and despite formal requests made by Fish & Wildlife officials and California Coastal Commission members to leave the trees being used by osprey and monarchs, the county flexed its muscle and destroyed those trees.

On Thursday, July 7, L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe celebrated a denuded Oxford Basin as many of us stood by observing the absence of birds, butterflies and other wildlife. Some of us saw one lonely heron.

Many people chatted about the sanitized park. Unfortunately, green algae covered what looked like 40% of the water, and later a white, cloudy substance discharged into the Basin.

The public has a right to know if these renovated biological systems are working as promised. Millions of dollars of Proposition 84 bonds were set aside to improve water quality, expand wildlife habitat and prepare for major storm events at Oxford Basin and other places.

Susan Goodman
Santa Monica

No Federal Funds for Ballona Bulldozers

Re: “More Money for Beaches and Wetlands,” News, June 16

Your article incorrectly implies that funding from Rep. Ted Lieu’s National Park Service study bill might be used for The Bay Foundation’s planned fake restoration project for the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve.

The intent of bringing the National Park Service onto the scene is to bring a higher level of natural resource protection and nature interpretation, historical site designation, interpretation and support, and enhanced public access to natural areas from the Ballona Wetlands to the Baldwin Hills.

After a thorough review of the grading and excavation plans that The Bay Foundation, California Department of Fish & Wildlife and California Coastal Conservancy have submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for permitting, it has become clear to us that protection of wildlife is not in the minds of those pushing this bulldoze Ballona plan.

Thus, linking the funding of that plan to Rep. Ted Lieu’s National Park Service study bill is not something we support, nor do we believe is appropriate.

Additionally, the article incorrectly stated that the ecological reserve is 360-acres, when it is approximately 600 acres. Each of those acres was won through hard-fought efforts, sweat and tears of many hundreds of community members.

Marcia Hanscom
Executive Director, Ballona Institute
Chair, Sierra Club Ballona Wetlands Restoration Committee

Speak Out Against the Ballona Do-Nothings

Re: “Don’t Rip Up Ballona,” Letters, Aug. 10

The reactionary responses to my letter from the Ballona Do-Nothings were predictable. Swindlers always shoot at the messenger when the facts of the message are indisputable and don’t support their false narrative.

These facts are indisputable:

•    In the 1950s and ‘60s, Marina del Rey construction buried 200 acres of tidal wetland saltmarsh beneath 2 million cubic yards of fill dirt over an area stretching from the 90 Freeway to Fisherman’s Village.

•    These 200 acres are today mostly covered with non-native weedy plant species.

•    Since 2004, scores of experienced scientists and engineers have collected and analyzed data and planned a comprehensive tidal restoration of Ballona, and an overwhelming consensus agrees that any restoration plan should maximize the biological and habitat values of the land.

•    Only comprehensive tidal restoration will accomplish those goals of maximizing biological and habitat values.

•    The Coastal Act requires projects to be “feasible,” which means “capable of being accomplished in a successful manner within a reasonable period of time.”

•    The Do-Nothings’ so-called “gentler” approach, a cartoon-like plan to use community volunteers with shovels and wheelbarrows to execute a minimally invasive restoration, would take 140 years to complete even by the most conservative estimates and is therefore infeasible, according to the Coastal Act.

•    Mechanized excavation and grading are the only feasible means to remove the 2 million cubic yards of fill dirt dumped on the 200 acres south of Fiji Way in order to restore tidal saltmarsh there and restore biological and habitat values.

•    Mechanized excavation and grading necessarily requires bulldozers, scrapers, backhoes, excavators and many dump trucks, but enables the work to proceed rapidly and safely.

•    Mechanized excavation and grading was the preferred and successful means by which the Bolsa Chica, Carpentaria, Batiquitos, San Dieguito and Malibu wetlands were restored — to name just a few of the hundreds of coastal wetland restoration projects completed statewide by these methods.

•    Many of the small mammals and reptiles residing in the Ballona fill dirt area could be trapped and relocated prior to construction, albeit at considerable expense, but the Do-Nothings have never advocated such mitigation because it undermines their narrative.

The Ballona Do-Nothings naturally recoil at accusations that their tactics are the same as rightwing science-deniers like Imhoffe, Palin and Trump, because that truth exposes their hypocrisy.

They besmirch the good reputations of many accomplished scientists and engineers, as well as our Democratic Party leaders who strive for progress based on facts and make correct decisions for society even when expensive or emotionally difficult.

They ironically use dog whistle terms like “bulldozer” and “industrialized” to instill fear in the uninformed public and to leverage their influence with policymakers, just like the rightwing reactionaries they revile.

As Edmund Burke famously said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I am proud to stand up and shout against the plastic toy arrows of the Ballona Do-Nothings.  Who shall stand with me?

David Kay, Playa Vista