Differentiating wetlands restoration

There are many problems with one of the ideas being discussed by the state for the Ballona Wetlands, which they claim is a restoration. A big problem is where they intend to get the water to make the wetlands wetter: dirty street drainage vs. clean ocean water.
Contrary to the claim by a letter writer in the Nov. 15 Argonaut, there is little in common with Playa Vista’s marsh restoration and the state’s plan. Simply put, there has not been a successful wetland restoration project that unleashed billions of gallons of new polluted street runoff into an existing wetland.
And that is the state’s preferred plan for Ballona, removing the levees that keep pollution out of our fragile wetland preserve. At the next-door Playa Vista freshwater marsh, the area was already the lower end of Centinela creek which ran through the old Hughes Airfield, receiving urban runoff from Westchester and Playa del Rey.
As a protected wetland already, it was not allowed to get new pollution, and in fact, when Playa Vista was developed they had to create an extensive filtration system within their development to assure that it would not add more pollution to the land they were restoring west of Lincoln Boulevard.
At Malibu Lagoon, which the writer cited in her letter, no levees were torn down, as Malibu Creek and the ocean already covered the lagoon site which was regraded and replanted only. And at the other large restoration project in this area, the huge Bolsa Chica restoration project in Orange County, the drainage from upstream developed areas was specifically diverted away from the wetlands and dumps into Huntington Harbor. The engineers created a new separate ocean accessway for Bolsa Chica that brings in clean ocean water.
That is the best way for Ballona Wetlands restoration. Not re-watering the marsh with polluted drainage from developed L.A., but with much cleaner water directly from the ocean. That is why our proposed alternative, the Ballona Creek’s plan, leaves the levees where they are and brings ocean water back into our wetland directly from the ocean while avoiding the pollution flowing down Ballona Creek.
One proposed plan removes the levees and digs out 20 to 30 feet of soil from half of the land, then dumps it on the other half of the land. This is to create a massive arm of the ocean, which is what the state’s bureaucrats think should be there. The problem is that this is what Ballona looked like 4,000 years ago, not 200 years ago when man’s activities began dramatically changing the wetlands. We believe that 4,000 years ago is not an accurate date to restore the wetlands to, but it merely gives the state an excuse for a massive, expensive and highly altering project.
Such maps comparing the 4,000 years ago condition to 200 years ago are here in the state’s existing conditions report: www.santamonicabay.org/BWRP/BWRP_Documents/Existing%20Conditions%20FINAL.pdf.
Returning to conditions of 200 years ago is the less expensive and more accurate way to restore Ballona, as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: “the return of an ecosystem to a close approximation of its condition prior to disturbance” (http://water.epa.gov/type/watersheds/archives/chap1.cfm)
As this report indicates, 200 years ago, the Ballona Wetlands were a delta with several smaller channels, very little urban street runoff, and a mix of marsh and sandy islands. This is a lot different than the state’s preferred alternative.
If you support a clean water restoration at Ballona, which is historically accurate and preserves all the wildlife and plants and trails that we love there, write to our elected officials.
Rex Frankel
President, Ballona Ecosystem
Education Project
Los Angeles


Something to consider about colocations

Re: “Resolution asking to postpone new action on charter applications fails” (Argonaut, Nov. 15).
I believe that Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Steve Zimmer’s recent proposal to ask charter schools for a delay in accepting applications was due to the influence he has faced so far from Westside homeowners and other members of the community, regarding colocations of charter schools with neighborhood schools.
There is nothing wrong with the concept of charter schools, their existence, or with the growth and expansion of charter schools and the charter school movement within the LAUSD. With colocation, however, existing problems with automobile, bicycle, skateboard and pedestrian traffic are increased, along with possible overcrowding of the buildings and parking spaces on the campuses of existing neighborhood schools, when charter, or other schools are brought in to share facilities and school grounds.
Additionally, this creates more noise and pollution in the surrounding neighborhood, combined with the increased traffic congestion, not to mention dirtier sidewalks and litter in the neighborhoods from school kids. This was a major concern of the homeowners with homes adjacent to Walgrove Elementary School in Mar Vista, who sought, earlier this year, to prevent a charter school from constructing new facilities for itself on the site of Walgrove.
Colocation can also result in the wear-and-tear and deterioration of the existing neighborhood school’s buildings and facilities. With an increased number of students from more than one school sharing a site, there is a need for more custodial and maintenance staff for cleaning and upkeep of the campus, which is impacted if the school district’s budget cuts have decreased the number of custodial staff.
Increased numbers of students also require adequate adult supervision, which can also be lacking if there are not enough teachers or school staff to monitor students outside the classrooms, again taking into account staff cutbacks and layoffs by the school district.
The above are things to consider and to think about if charter schools want to colocate on the campuses of the existing neighborhood schools, to expand their schools, and to increase their numbers of students.
Patricia Estes


Kudos for heroes

Congratulations on your “Local Heroes” section. Our community has countless interesting and accomplished people that the rest of us would like to read about.
Perhaps a weekly “Local Personalities” feature would answer this need.
Julian Myers
Marina del Rey