An Accident Waiting to Happen

Nearly lost among our Christmas mail last year was a notice announcing a Jan. 10 Santa Monica Planning Commission hearing to consider approval of a new 47-unit mixed-use building to fill the whole 2900 block of Lincoln Boulevard. Researching the proposal on smgov.net, I was horrified at what I found.

The problematic narrow building site is as long as a football field with only one access way for vehicles: a street-level ramp that dumps out to Lincoln, the area’s primary coastal traffic artery. Rush hour is a slow parade of vehicles jockeying for position; other times it’s an open speedway that invites strategic acceleration to wedge through intersections before the light turns red.

I’ve lived 150 feet away from this site for 42 years, with a clear view from my desk as I write. I’ve seen many accidents, so images of what’s to come flood my mind. “The Killing Zone,” as I’ve called it at several city hearings, is where the ramp to all the basement parking and service areas opens to the sidewalk and directly onto traffic on Lincoln.

The building will provide parking for 151 cars, 12 motorcycles, flocks of scooters and bikes to serve building residents and visiting customers of the coffee shop and stores. The only loading dock to service residents and businesses and building needs, like dumpster service or product delivery, is down there too. (There won’t be a Lincoln Boulevard turnout lane for passenger drop-off or loading.) The basement ramp provides a single lane each way, with limited visibility for exiting vehicles driving up.

Now imagine yourself as a building resident driving to work one morning, waiting your turn in line to exit while dodging shop visitors seeking parking places. You make it to the top of the ramp seeking a gap in the northbound morning Lincoln parade. You’re alert for sidewalk electric scooters, bikes, pedestrians and motorized wheelchairs from the retirement home next door coming from the left and the right —pedestrians, too. You might curse the delivery van stuck in the downward ramp queue. It totally blocks your view of electric scooters racing around the van just as your gap in Lincoln traffic materializes.

Skilled drivers might manage these maneuvers, but add one or two bozos to the mix and you have a recipe for bent metal and bloodshed. Is this what we want? If not, please let our city council members know before it’s too late.

Tim Tunks, Ocean Park

Wetlands Must Have Water

Re: Response to “Ballona Also Needs Heavy Lifting,” Letters, Oct. 4

Rex Frankel needs an education in elementary wetland ecology. Yes, there was “clean, healthy wetland mud full of life” mixed with the debris that was dumped on Area A of the Ballona Wetlands when the Marina was built. But it was dumped until that mud was 15 to 20 feet high.

So what happens to that clean wetlands mud when it’s now 15 to 20 feet above sea level? The life dies, the mud dries, and soon you have a field of the same weeds you’ll find in vacant lots.

The word is wetland, which means it’s nourished by water. At 20 feet, water just can’t manage it. If you want to bring back the wetland and all the wonders it performs — cleansing polluted runoff, flood control, wildlife habitat — that dirt has to go.

And how do you remove it to reach wetland soil once more? Well, you sure can’t do it with pails and shovels.

So you bring in the bulldozers, just as we did to create the freshwater marsh. There was screaming and shouting and jumping up and down when we did that. Remember, Rex? Even lawsuits.

But we did it, and today the marsh is home for 255 native species (some not seen here in over 100 years) and a great resting and feeding stopover for migratory birds, plus performing other vital wetland functions. It’s also a lovely place for walking and birding. And, by the way, this was all done slowly and carefully, just as the salt marsh restoration would be.

Ruth Lansford, Playa del Rey

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