Removing wetland drains would impact plant resources
Re: “Coastal Commission begins probe of drainage system in Ballona Wetlands,” (Argonaut, July 18).
The article reports allegations that Playa Vista’s flood control system includes drains which required a California Coastal Commission permit, but apparently lack one. If true, then Playa Vista should correct the situation if any correction is needed given the status.
As an organization, Friends of Ballona Wetlands opposes any proposed remedy that interferes with the ongoing sound management of the highly successful freshwater marsh project and its delicate salt marsh surroundings, which still require careful professional management and thoughtful restoration.
Your readers should be aware that these structures drain saltmarsh “stranded” by two boulevards – areas which historically drained to Ballona Creek but are now trapped by poor road design that the state wetland restoration will correct.
The drains’ entry elevation is slightly higher than land level, so rainfall still soaks into the ground and does not drain through these structures. In fact, these drains have no effect on fresh ground water recharge, which in any case would be irrelevant were Ballona a properly functioning wetland enjoying twice daily tidal action.
These structures will drain feet-deep fresh water from large successive downpours, like those which dropped 24 inches on L.A. over three consecutive months in 2005. Analogous to your home toilet standpipe, which drains excess water from a stuck tank valve instead of flooding your home, these drains similarly protect the wetlands. Removing these drains, as some have already advocated, could cause long-term fresh water “drowning” of the wetlands’ salt-tolerant flora and fauna, if storms like those in 2005 were to recur.
Saltmarsh tolerates brief or infrequent fresh water flooding, but lengthy inundation eventually damages plants, cascading impacts to dependent fauna (see Alexander and Dunton, December 2002, Estuaries). Using methods proven at restorations from Tijuana, Mexico to Carpinteria, the state’s Ballona project will salvage existing plants and topsoil for nursery propagation, then re-plant “baby” plants and soil following land re-shaping that welcomes incoming tides.
Contrary to the public interest, removing the subject drains jeopardizes this vast plant resource bank which will be critical to rapid and successful habitat restoration when the state correctly re-shapes the Ballona topography.
Dr. David W. Kay
President, Board of Directors
Friends of Ballona Wetlands

Argument is not about property but on numbers of homeless
Re: “Supreme Court ruling on property seizures affects Westside,” (Argonaut, July 11).
According to the ruling in Lavan vs. City of Los Angeles, upheld by two federal court injunctions, Los Angeles retains the authority to remove abandoned belongings on public thoroughfares but cannot remove goods which clearly belong to a homeless person just because they remain unattended for a period of time.
Property owners still wonder about the blight of homelessness in their communities, while civic activists either celebrate homeless persons or worry about the plight of poverty which afflicts them. Lawyers merely litigate the property rights of the homeless persons. Instead of arguing about a homeless man’s belongings, why don’t city leaders, civic activists, and lawyers attend to a more important issue: why are there so many homeless in Los Angeles?
First of all, the individual may be a veteran who has not received proper care from the Veterans Administration. The Brentwood VA has turned into a private club for pet owners, laundromats and solar panels, yet tens of thousands of wounded warriors still wander the streets. Instead of discussing gun violence and mental health in a Santa Monica City Council open forum on July 15, Rep. Henry Waxman should have discussed the neglected transient homeless veterans.
Second, the growing problem of mental illness has not been addressed effectively. The gradual expansion of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual has catalogued more diseases, yet has provided no solutions. The governmental expansion into health insurance has decreased quality care and access for practitioners and patients. Waxman’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, has only exacerbated this problem.
Then there are those who still struggle to find a job and get back on their feet in this anemic economy. A government which taxed less, spent less, did less (that we would see less of altogether), would help ensure more business, more commerce, more opportunities and less homelessness.
Arthur Christopher Schaper Torrance

More land given away to development
Twenty-five years of post-Proposition 13 property tax and supporting local business, and my neighborhood is being ruined by private developers who have been given 60-year leases and permits to put up three buildings with more than 1,600 apartments and a hotel on public land in Marina del Rey in exchange for income for the county and campaign contributions for the supervisors. If this isn’t corruption, what is?
A community based Local Coastal Program was to provide a green-space park between two of these buildings; instead it was given to one developer for an additional 126 apartments. The park was to be funded; instead credits were given to these same developers for phony additions to their properties, i.e. public use of their pool, but the public wasn’t informed.
These buildings are five to seven stories; we NIMBYs will be unable to see the Marina or enjoy mobility along Via Marina!
Lynne Shapiro
Marina del Rey

Want residents to back off runway plan? No building on north land
A possible Los Angeles International Airport solution for consideration:
North-of-airport residents agree to stop blocking the LAX runway move;
In return, Los Angeles World Airports promises to never build or develop any property north of the moved runway, and cede this property to the city for perpetual use as a park and recreational area.
Jack Keady
Playa del Rey