Public art in Mar Vista. Credit: Aja Bufka

Opposing Placement of the Proposed ‘Traquero’ Monument
Editor:

I am writing to offer our support for the Mexican American Traquero Monument Project, while also indicating our opposition to its proposed location on the Windward Circle island.

I appreciate that a significant amount of thought and work have gone into the plans for this monument. Certainly, it is proper to have the contributions of the Traqueros honored.

However, the installation of the monument with a water feature at this site is highly problematic. The issues any public monument will face at this site are security, pedestrian safety and conflict-of-use with storm water storage at the site. The current use of the island to exhibit Venice artist Robert Graham’s sculpture must also be considered.

The sponsors of the project were apparently unaware that the site was earlier the home to a replica of the original gondolas that Abbot Kinney constructed for the enjoyment of visitors to the Venice Canals.

Several years ago, the Venice Historical Society installed the gondola on the traffic circle median. That gondola was viciously attacked on numerous occasions by vandals, various decorative ornaments were stripped off, it was gouged, and at some time it was partially shoved off the circle into the street in what appeared to be an attempt to steal it.

Eventually, the Historical Society felt it had no choice but to put it into storage until a more secure location was found nearby on fenced-in U.S. Postal Service property. Without fencing or a barrier of some type, any new monument will certainly be the target of graffiti and acts of vandalism.

The Department of Transportation has long banned visitor access to the island and has installed signs directing visitors on foot to travel on the sidewalks and crosswalks around the outer edges of the traffic circle, not to cross by means of the island. This ban on foot traffic to the island results from the risk of pedestrians being hit by cars traveling around the circle where lines of sight are obscured by large bollards placed around the perimeter of the island.
I recently forwarded the Traquero Monument Project to Brian Gallagher, Principal Transportation Engineer at the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s District Operations Bureau, and asked his opinion. He replied on December 21, 2020:

“LADOT does not want to put anything in that median island that would require us to provide pedestrian access. I’m sure that LAPD and the Neighborhood Prosecutor’s Office will agree with us.”

There is a large storm water reservoir beneath the island that requires frequent visits by large city public works trucks to maintain and repair the antiquated pumping equipment. These trucks, usually two at a time, park just next to where the Traquero monument is slated to be installed. This will routinely detract from the public’s view of the monument.

As I mentioned in my remarks when the project was before the Venice Neighborhood Council, the Traffic Circle (and the storm water reservoir underneath it) were originally part of Lake Ballona, a long, narrow coastal lake that sat east of Venice’s coastal dunes. Abbot Kinney used it as the anchor for the first canal system he created. From 1905 to roughly 1929, the circle was a boat basin and the center of a network of canals. The primary rail lines were on Venice Boulevard and Electric Avenue, not Grand, or Venice Way, or Windward.

Speaking for myself and my organization, I would like to see the circle further commemorated as the site of the Venice Lagoon and the center of the “Lost Canals” district. I also would like to suggest two alternate Venice locations for the monument, which have higher visibility and receive more public visits:

1.  Just west of the intersection of Venice Boulevard and Abbot Kinney Boulevard, on the original Pacific Electric Red Car line, is an open area on the median. An extant portion of the Red Car line has been preserved there. The Venice Heritage Museum is proposed for just west of site I am suggesting, which would include a refurbished Red Car (veniceheritagemuseum.org/the-museum-campus). What better place for a monument to railroad workers than next to the very tracks they laid and a historic rail car? Access to the median is available from either crosswalks at Abbot Kinney Boulevard or the Venice Library’s parking lot.

2.  Windward Plaza, just west of the Venice Sign, currently contains a prominently placed 60-foot metal sculpture by Mark di Suvero. A news story was published last year that claimed the sculpture is going to be dismantled and trucked to another site in northern California. This site, between the boardwalk and the ocean at the foot of Windward Avenue, is probably the most visited site in all of Venice Beach and there are no safety issues with traffic.

I will close by noting that aesthetically, I think the Traquero monument will clash with the Robert Graham sculpture now located on the island, in both style and purpose. I would note that Mr. Graham is one of the most famous members of the Venice Art Colony of the 1970s and 1980s and its only Mexican member. He and his sculpture deserve the “stage” offered by the Windward Circle island to himself.

Thank you for your consideration of our views on the location of this monument.
Mark Ryavec
President, Venice Stakeholders Association

Re: Ballona Wetlands
Editor:
My zoology degree is only a B.A. but I cannot fathom how respecting Nature’s healing the area best she could can be dismissed as merely a highly emotional response. Destroy the village to save it? Oh, please!
Lisa Edmondson
Los Angeles

Oppose the Anti-Turkish Acrimony in California Legislature
Editor:
I am deeply concerned about the recent wave of anti-Turkish acrimony in the California legislature. Leaving aside all critical issues amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, three state legislative bills (ACR 26, AB 1019, AR 21) based on the allegations of Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire and on the Armenian territorial claims against Turkey and Azerbaijan have been introduced since February.

ACR 26 and AB 1019 seek to institutionalize California’s economic warfare against Turkey for the country’s rejection of the Armenian narrative regarding the World War I era atrocities. AB 1019, specifically, seeks divestment of the California public employee retirement funds from Turkey by accusing it of the crime against humanity based on the 1948 UN Genocide Convention.

However, all actual genocides, such as the Holocaust, those in Srebrenica and Rwanda, have been tried in an appropriate international court tribunal. In contrast, the WWI era atrocities in the Ottoman Empire were never legally assessed, the intent to exterminate Armenians was never established.

Furthermore, the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights – “Switzerland vs. Perincek” (2013, 2015) and “Mercan and others vs. Switzerland” (2017) concluded that the allegations of Armenian genocide are a matter of legitimate debate with clear historical and legal distinctions from the Holocaust.

The attempts to drag our state legislature, public education, economic and criminal justice institutions into the anti-Turkish travesty constitute an abuse of our representative democracy. While recognizing a crime against humanity may be an act of moral authority, issuing judgements without a trial is not. I urge our elected representatives to consider these facts while formulating their position on the aforementioned legislative bills.
Anonymous

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