Wetlands Coverage Reads Like Public Relations Copy

Re: “A Big Yellow Warning Sign,” News, May 2

The Argonaut’s coverage of invasive weed management at the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve has avoided discussion of how hundreds of thousands of dollars in public and private grants have been spent on weed management in a very small corner of the reserve, and whether that money has achieved, or is even on a path to achieving, what it was intended to achieve.

The Argonaut has published no fewer than three articles related to an invasive species removal project along Culver Boulevard in Playa del Rey. Friends of Ballona Wetlands and The Bay Foundation jointly applied for, and received, an additional $90,000 from the Coastal Conservancy via a recommendation from the local Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission. (Another topic yet to be covered by this paper is Assembly Bill 1511, which would place the commission under the administrative purview of the conservancy at the request of the foundation and as supported by the friends).

The most visible section of this ongoing project is below the bluffs and to the right of Culver Boulevard as one drives east about a hundred yards past the light at Nicholson Street. This site is currently overrun with the very invasive species referenced in the article (euphorbia terracina, crown daisy, black mustard) and many others like wild radish, sweet clover and Bermuda buttercup. The record shows that important management best practices were not followed for this project. Preparatory steps such as local native seed collection did not begin in earnest until almost two years after the project commenced, rather than in the years leading up to the project, as is customary. Previous methods of communication to the public about this project, such as a newsletter and social media site, have been discontinued, and it is very difficult to get timely information as to what steps are being taken to address the current situation.

When local media doesn’t seek out more information than what it is provided freely by the subjects of the articles they publish, readers get only a partial understanding of important issues, and policy-makers are under no pressure to address shortcomings. As an early 20th century editor once remarked, in slightly paraphrased form, “Whatever [someone] desires to get published is advertising; whatever [that person] wants to keep out of the paper is news.”

Walter Lamb

Playa del Rey

Editor’s Note: Lamb is president of the nonprofit advocacy group Ballona Wetlands Land Trust.

Don’t Piecemeal Affordable Housing into Marina del Rey

Re: “Affordable Housing Isn’t Necessarily Fair,” Letters, April 25

Absent a specific “affordable housing” policy for Marina del Rey, the county should issue an RFP to the multi-family housing development community to construct an “affordable housing” complex on Parking Lot 11 (14101 Panay Way). This complex would be designated solely for “affordable housing” and would have mandated, proportionate divisions between very low, low- and moderate-income targeted tenants – with a percentage for “seniors” in each income strata.

High land acquisition costs are generally one of the most significant reasons why “affordable housing” is not financially feasible in more affluent areas. This is where the public sector can be of prominent assistance. As an inducement or incentive for a proposed developer/lessee to respond to the suggested RFP and ultimately enter into an agreement/ ground lease with the county, the county would convey a leasehold interest for the proposed development at a rental rate of $1/year for the term of the ground lease. This would be the subsidy from the public sector to create a more financially feasible plan for development.

Public parking eliminated by the development could be partially offset by including some public parking in the parking garage built for the new complex. The public section could be fee-based at current market rates, and resident parking could be separated by gates.

New affordable housing would be a more efficient process than the piecemeal methodology currently being imposed through negotiations with lessees during proposals for new development, renovations and/or ground lease extensions.

Lamont Roberts

Marina del Rey