Let’s find a way to co-exist

We are citizens who have been working together towards a sustainable Ballona Wetlands, and we hope that more people will join our efforts.
The Nov. 22 and 29 Argonaut cover articles about Playa Vista Phase II are worrisome for all concerned about, and living in, this area.
First, the area has large migratory gas seeps (ETI study, 2000). Won’t paving over more of the open space in Phase II make the gas pressure higher in Phase I? Children live in Playa Vista, and a home for seniors is proposed – we want their health to be respected. Can this issue be addressed competently?
Currently, ground water around the gas storage is being pumped out. Can unpolluted water be made available to plants and animals living in these wetlands? (Less than 5 percent of California wetlands – the web of life – are undeveloped).
More shopping will bring more cars (for the proposed development, the estimate is 24,000 trips per day) as well as more pollution, from out of the area. Can residents already bicycle easily to everything they need?
A big cement pipe under Lincoln Boulevard is the current “mitigation” route for animals; it has a ledge too narrow, and a depth of water too high, for most animals, including foxes. Road-kills in this area have been shown by scientists to be at over 3,000 per year – that’s at least eight animals per day. Can we find a better way to co-exist?
The Gabrielino-Tongva tribe once lived in this area. Phase II of Playa Vista was once a stand of willow trees near a creek. Can we leave some open space so that the gas can escape, and rain water can seep in for animals and trees again?
Could the developer donate some of the land? There are plenty of less delicate and dangerous places to build in Southern California. Please think about the long-term picture.
Lauren Gottlieb (Los Angeles),
Susan Goodman (Westchester),
Louise Steiner (Santa Monica),
Bill Mims (Los Angeles)

Nativity scenes are reminder about generosity

Re: “The feeling of Christmas versus the law.”
I have recently read that Nativity scenes have been outlawed on public space in Santa Monica, and in that a two-hour maximum exists if the scene is attended.
The value of Nativity scenes is that no matter what time of the day or night I drive by, they remind me about human generosity in that the deepest feeling of Christmas and Nativity scenes is one of “giving.”
So, for that short period of time I am reminded to be more generous than I otherwise might be.
And this is against the law?
Dr. Len Bergantino
Los Angeles

Not impressed with 50th boat parade

Not to be a Grinch this holiday season, but I feel the need to express my disappointment with this year’s Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade. Let me preface this criticism with the fact that I love this community and any type of activity that can bring us all together, especially for something fun during the holidays.
I’ve been to the annual holiday boat parade for most of the past 10 years that my wife and I have resided in this jewel of a neighborhood. This year has to rank near the bottom of all of the previous boat parades we have had the pleasure of viewing (aside from two years ago when an ill-timed torrential rainstorm struck the night of the parade).
And this parade in particular was built up in my mind because it was special – it was celebrating the 50th year of the event. But it started on a low note right from the beginning – the grand marshal’s boat; it did not even have a single light or decoration on it.
Was it too much to expect that the grand marshal’s boat might have a little flair going for it? It had nothing on it other than navigational lights and some shadowy figures waving in the dark, one of them who was supposedly Olympic volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh (it could’ve been her older brother in a wig for all I know). So the parade started with a thud.
And it seemed to continue in this downward trajectory with some half-hearted/half-decorated boats. Granted, there were a few boats/owners that seemed to take a bit of pride and actually put some effort into the event and I do not want to take away from them, but overall it just seemed very underwhelming.
Maybe I’m alone in this impression and I was just not feeling the spirit this year. Or maybe we just blame the poor economy and move forward.
Scott Tretter
Marina del Rey

Property seizure freeze takes toll on Venice

The injunction against seizing the belongings of the homeless has implications far beyond Skid Row. In Venice it has given the city of Los Angeles pause over removing tons of bikes, shopping carts, luggage, tents, lean-toes, tables, tarps, sleeping bags, umbrellas, etc., that are stored throughout the Venice Beach Recreation Area.
This goes far beyond the intent of the injunction to protect essential property such as identification cards, medication, change of clothes and personal mementos.
The occupation of this park by transients has rendered it inhospitable to visitors and residents alike, creating “Skid Row West” along a beachfront that should be a primary recreational venue for the public.
We encourage City Attorney Carme Trutanich to appeal this overly broad and anti-resident injunction to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mark Ryavec
Stakeholders Association

Losses felt at marketplace

Unless I have missed a letter, I find it unbelievable that nobody has written about the AMC turning into a “dine-in” theater at Marina Marketplace, at prices that are so atrocious.
And, our wonderful neighborhood Regal Cinemas (formerly United Artists) has been dismantled, leaving those of us Marina del Rey area residents who live and spend money in the Marina area, and have for years, with nowhere to go but to Culver City or the Beach Cities cinemas.
One would have thought that the Marina developers would have learned that when J. Nichols restaurant closed, remodeled and became the ultimate “yuppie” eatery, the long waiting lines for a table at the old establishment disappeared and nobody seems to be waiting at the new Nichols. Since when did the developers decide that Equinox, AMC and who knows what other familiar shops and stores should replace a thriving community shopping area in favor of what they like to call “upscale?”
I am heartsick at losing our Regal Cinemas and can only hope that when the new Cineplex is built in Playa Vista it will draw not only AMC customers away, but will also take their gym, restaurants and any other changes they may have in mind.
Naomi Bernstein
Los Angeles

Need machines for proper restoration

The editing of my Nov. 15 letter (“Another Costly Challenge”) omitted my main point: machinery such as bulldozers will be necessary to restore the Ballona Wetlands. This led to a Nov. 29 rebuttal letter (“Differentiating Wetland Restoration”), which understandably misunderstood my subject and thought I was speaking of restoration design. I hope this will clarify my previous letter.
Major restorations cannot be achieved with hand tools; machinery is necessary. In my letter I cited the freshwater marsh, which is a successful example of recreating a wetland using bulldozers. An area that was weedy, plowed land was transformed into an ecosystem that now supports more wildlife than it has since before this area was developed.
I have no doubt the Malibu Lagoon will be successful too, also using machinery. Ballona is much larger and clearly cannot be restored using trowels, buckets, pruning shears, rakes and trash receptacles, as the letter that prompted mine claimed.
As for restoration design, there is no confirmed plan. There will be many ideas and alterations before a final plan is approved. I urge everyone to hold off, not plant their feet in the cement of “my way or the highway” and let good science guide us.
For an informative article on the Malibu Lagoon controversy, the November issue of Smithsonian Magazine is worth reading. It’s on the Internet and also on Friends of Ballona Wetlands’ Facebook page.
It will give you insight into a battle which promises to be repeated at Ballona unless we all put our emotions aside and do what’s best for a wetland we fought so long and hard to restore.
Ruth Lansford
Playa del Rey

Time for an answer

Government is no longer responsive to its citizens. I have written twice to Los Angeles World Airports and to the mayor’s office to ask why planes are now flying constantly over the Marina Peninsula, a decided change of route, and received no answer to my question.
I have written three times to the Parking Violations Bureau to ask why my street had a sudden “no parking” sign on a Saturday, for the first time in 25 years and with no advanced notice — no answer, just a $73 fine.
And why does the California Coastal Commission hear issues on the southern coast at a meeting in San Francisco, making it impossible for most concerned parties to testify?
The lack of replies leads me to suspect ulterior motives, especially with regard to a hotel on parcel 9U in the heart of a residential neighborhood in the Marina and a probable circumvention of environmental rulings for a wetland property.
Those of us on the west side of Marina del Rey have been denied a once promised park at the corner of Via Marina and Marquesas Way so that a developer could have 136 apartments in addition to his 500. Was that park denied so that a teeny, tiny wetland park could pave the way for another large hotel in the Marina, where thousands of us live and pay property taxes and would prefer peace, quiet, less hazardous waste and less traffic?
Is another hotel needed when the current ones operate at 70 percent capacity and have had to lower holiday rates?
Lynne Shapiro
Marina del Rey

Taking Nativity display restrictions a step further

Re: “Holiday traditions hold strong for church groups” (Argonaut, Dec. 6).
As a former Californian and frequent visitor to the state, I read with interest about the Santa Monica City Council’s decision not to display the Nativity scenes at Palisades Park this year. Because I understand how offensive one person’s belief can be to another, I don’t understand why the council allows the city to continue displaying a statue of Santa Monica – how offensive is that?
Taking it a step further, why would they allow their city to be named after this saint? I suggest they change the name to another more appropriate, atheistic name. And why stop there?
How about changing the names of El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Porciuncula (Los Angeles, for short), San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, and every other city or town in California having a “religious” name.
It is possible that if this action were taken, other states would follow their example; i.e., San Antonio, TX, St. Petersburg, Fla., St. Paul, Minn., etc.
The Communists knew how to handle this sort of problem, changing the name of St. Petersburg to Leningrad, for example. You see how that turned out.
Here’s wishing you a very Merry Holliday (or Holiday), coming from Old English and meaning “holy day.” (Oops, better change that too).
Loretta Mitro
Bridgeport, CT

‘Pleased as punch’ about co-president legacy

Re: “Instrumental co-president of Playa Capital leaves legacy after 12 years” (Argonaut, Dec. 6).
I worked at Latham & Watkins while Patti Sinclair was there and believe me when I tell you that working for attorneys is no easy job. I sometimes worked on her cases, even though I did not work directly for her.
My attorney and partner, Susan Welch (I was her legal secretary), is as wonderful a woman as Sinclair. Welch and Sinclair were made of the same mold, because when a case closed they always said, “we won!”
It was never “I” won, it was always “we.” Even though I have only a high school education, I always felt a part of their team and that I was part of the win for which they worked so hard to attain for their clients.
I was pleased as punch to see her photo on the front of The Argonaut, which I read weekly, and was not surprised at all that she was instrumental as co-president to leave a good legacy after 12 years regarding the Playa Vista community.
She is a woman most deserving of this adulation. Thank you for reminding me of someone good who passed through my life and gave me confidence in myself that I did not have before working for Latham & Watkins.
Lolly Hellman
Venice Beach