Ballona Crime is No Surprise

Re: “The Arsenal Next Door,” News May 3

So the LAPD says: “We’re finding out that there’s a criminal element in the wetlands.” What’s that old saying? Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. That applies to history as recent as 2013.

In 2013, Friends of Ballona Wetlands wrote to all levels of government — elected officials, law enforcement, the health department — describing identical conditions at Ballona. The result was a series of meetings that included homeless advocates, Marina del Rey lessees, the elected, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, plus the representatives from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and LAPD.

The meeting resulted in a sweep of the wetlands, which temporarily evicted the unwanted residents. Of course, they all came back.

Since then California Fish & Wildlife has worked diligently to keep up with the ever-returning homeless, encountering real danger in the process (getting stabbed by needles hidden in the brush, confronting hostile and mentally deranged people, etc.). But they can’t do it alone.

Obviously, now that it’s known that the general public faces real danger, there will be a new united effort to solve the problem. How long will it last? When the next sweep evicts the culprits and the publicity dies down, all will be well — for a while. We’ll all relax. Problem over. Until …

Let’s not let history repeat itself this time.

Ruth Lansford

Friends of Ballona Wetlands

Money isn’t Ballona’s Problem

For the words “Ballona Wetlands” to be followed by “Crime Ring” shows how badly the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve has been mismanaged for many years, and ties directly to a story that has yet to receive any local coverage.

There exists a pool of $6.8 million of public bond funds approved by voters in 2000, much of which had been informally set aside for restoration of the Ballona Wetlands until the administering agencies realized that these funds would expire before that repeatedly delayed project could be implemented.

Proposition 12 funds from a different line item were used previously to fund ranger patrols in the wetlands in a partnership with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. Funds from the same Prop. 12 line item have been used for Ballona-related studies and for invasive species removal at other locations. Such stewardship activities are desperately needed now at the Ballona Wetlands, but there is simply a lack of political will to ensure that available funds are used for that purpose.

At some point, we need our local leaders and also our local media to start asking how an ecological reserve purchased 15 years ago is still largely neglected, with educational and stewardship programs confined to small sections of the reserve. We’ve been hearing for years that the issue is a lack of funding, but that simply isn’t true.

Walter Lamb
Ballona Wetlands Land Trust