Appreciates coverage of no jets pledge at Santa Monica Airport

To the Editor:

Regarding “Congresswoman Harman promises not to use jets at Santa Monica Airport, joining growing list of candidates for public office” (March 25th Argonaut), I want to extend my appreciation for another excellent article that describes the efforts of, and on behalf of, the community to address the extreme impacts of airport operations on Santa Monica Airport’s neighbors.

And a big thank you also to congressional candidate Marcy Winograd for understanding that a ban on jet traffic at Santa Monica Airport (SMO) is precisely what is needed.

The story states “The Santa Monica City Council enacted a ban on jet traffic at the airport in 2008, but a Superior Court judge overturned the ordinance. The case is now before a federal appeals court.”

To clarify, Santa Monica’s appeal regarding the ban will be heard in the D.C. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal. Santa Monica banned only the fastest category type III and type IV aircraft.

The remaining 10,000 or more annual jet operations would not be affected. The City of Santa Monica has not been convinced that jet exhaust blowing across Bundy Drive into homes as close as 250 feet downwind from the jet blast is a human health risk.

Although it has been going on for decades, Santa Monica is content with the status quo. Readers should understand that the City of Santa Monica and the Federal Aviation Administration are both responsible for what happens at SMO.

With years of smoke screens and mirrors, Santa Monica’s finger pointing at the FAA mirrors right back at themselves as well.

Martin Rubin, Director, Concerned Residents Against, Airport Pollution,, Santa Monica

Commends Rosendahl for keeping his word in Playa Vista vote

To the Editor:

Community support for a livable city got crucified at City Hall when Playa Vista’s Village was approved by City Council; but Councilman Bill Rosendahl, as one of two no votes, redeemed himself.

This last open space could not only be used for habitat, but also as a treatment wetland. This natural treatment wetland could clean Ballona and Centinela creeks before they reach the preserved 600-acre Ballona Ecological Reserve and Santa Monica Bay.

On Friday, March 26th, in a packed Council Chambers, the City Council voted 12-2 to approve the plan, with Rosendahl, who represents the area, and Westside Councilman Paul Koretz voting no.

I commend both of these men for their compassion and sensitivity to the environment and courage to stand up to money throwing developers and single issue labor representatives.

Several community members, myself included, were not allowed to give public comment and questioned whether there was a Brown Act violation.

Rosendahl received many letters opposing the project and faced many unhappy Westsiders at local town hall meetings who were opposed to further expansion and destruction of this delicate ecosystem.

According to the Ballona Wetlands Land Trust, Playa Vista Phase II would add 2,800 residential units, 175,000 square feet of office space, and a huge shopping center. This would result in a minimum of 26,000 additional car trips per day.

Rosendahl decided to honor his 2005 signed pledge to voters that he would not approve going forward with Phase II until the first phase was completed.

He redeemed himself by keeping his word. Even though, some wished he had pushed harder for other council members to vote against the project and save Ballona Wetlands Southeast.

I commend all who wrote letters, sent emails, made phone calls and attended the council meeting.

Even though we lost the vote, Rosendahl kept his word.

And now we can keep the faith, in the struggle as we move on for justice to protect the “liver” of Los Angeles.

Suzanne Thompson, Venice

Recalls board member’s statements about Marina’s recreational purpose

To the Editor:

A key Los Angeles County appointee has told the county Board of Supervisors that there is a “profound lack of public trust” in the way the county is taking over public lands in Marina del Rey for private development.

Peter Phinney, chairman of the Marina del Rey Design Control Board, made the statement at a recent meeting of the board. Phinney represents the Fourth Supervisorial District, which includes Marina del Rey.

He claimed that the county’s development plan is entirely being driven by developers’ willingness to put up money and there is no counterbalance to protect the public’s interest in maintaining the Marina as a recreational asset and to preserve public access to the water and other recreational features.

Phinney said the Marina was originally conceived as a recreational asset for all ten million residents of Los Angeles County and not just for the 10,000 residents who currently live there.

For the record, the county is in an advanced stage of permitting 16 different projects including hotel towers, shops, offices and apartment blocks.

The projects call for the hand-over of 30 acres of publicly owned parking lots to private developers. These parking lots were originally set aside to ensure adequate public access to the Marina.

Phinney said he had discussed the county’s plans with many people and claimed he had found a “profound lack of public trust” in the county’s actions.

Because the February 17th Design Control Board meeting at which Phinney spoke was not adequately noticed, no reporters were present at the meeting.

A film clip of his statement is available on YouTube under “Marina del Rey Design Control.”

Bruce Russell, Marina del Rey

Says endangered flower story highlights the need for surveys of habitat

To the Editor:

Kudos to Ballona Institute for spotting what we hope botanists will confirm is the rarer variety of the Orcutt’s Yellow Pincushion flower during Ballona Lagoon trail construction.

While experts ponder the flower’s lineage, the known population should be securely fenced off from disturbance. Hopefully, the public trail can be rerouted to protect the flower but preserve pedestrian access.

The flower’s sudden appearance could be due to many factors, including a wetter winter than in recent years or local soil disturbance.

Many plants in this sunflower family germinate when soil holding the seeds is disturbed. In any case, this story highlights the importance of conducting careful, multi-year seasonal surveys of existing habitat, both during the initial planning and again during pre-construction permitting phases of ground-disturbing projects.

Identifying sensitive or rare species early in the process informs the project design to avoid impacts during construction.

The ongoing existing habitat surveys presently underway south of the Marina at the larger Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve will provide such data, so an informed, comprehensive tidal restoration design can emerge from the environmental impact report process.

Construction of a final design there can thus avoid and preserve any existing rare or sensitive habitats or species.

Dr. David Kay, Board Member, Friends of Ballona Wetlands, Los Angeles

Encourages Venice community to vote in neighborhood council election April 11

To the Editor:

I appreciated The Argonaut printing a recent article entitled, “Venice community leaders look to Santa Barbara as model for RV parking program locally.”

Santa Barbara’s safe RV parking program under New Beginnings demonstrates the power of an entire community coming together to solve issues and create a win-win for all its residents.

I believe Venice can achieve something similar and end this zero-sum mentality that fosters a belief that there is not enough to go around for everyone and pits neighbor against neighbor. I’m eager to hear the findings from the Eugene, Oregon, trip and witness our community coming together to create something that uniquely fits our needs.

The issue of overnight parking districts (OPDs) has been a contentious one, and I’ve seen it firsthand as a 15-year resident of Venice and candidate running for a community officer seat in the upcoming Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) election.

During the past four weeks, I’ve been walking Venice, introducing myself, meeting residents and asking them, “When you think of Venice, what comes to mind? What do you love about it? And, what would you do to improve it? What are the issues that concern you?”

The question on everyone’s mind — and the first thing I am asked repeatedly — “Where do you stand on OPDs [Overnight Parking Districts]?”

This question represents an opportunity to talk about so many issues affecting Venice. In fact, OPDs represent an intersection where many of those issues collide.

Specifically, we need to address the dire need for real, creative parking solutions; retain and increase affordable housing in Venice; connect people with services that provide food, shelter, housing and job opportunities; seek humane solutions to address homelessness and poverty; and, cultivate a community of dignity and respect.

A program like New Beginnings could begin to make an immediate impact on many of these issues.

Venice, like many communities, faces other significant, competing issues such as empowering and educating youth during a time when money is tighter than ever and saving our local library. Very few people realize that right now our library is desperate for our help.

With Los Angeles city budget cuts, our local library is facing serious cutbacks. We need that library to support not only our youth but also jobless residents seeking much needed resources.

For these reasons and more, it is crucial that all Venice votes on Sunday, April 11th at the Oakwood Recreation Center, 767 California, Venice. Polls open at 10 a.m. and close at 4 p.m.

This year the City Clerk’s Office will be administering the election and each voter will be required to bring current, valid identification.

Please join me on Sunday, April 11th and make your voice heard. Let’s work together for the benefit of ourselves, our neighbors and Venice. Together, we can do anything.

Cindy Chambers, Venice

Urges residents to attend meetings on issues affecting Marina

To the Editor:

Have you ever stopped to read the monument (County of Los Angeles, Marina del Rey) at the entrance to the Department of Beaches and Harbors facility?

It states: “This great recreation and boating facility is dedicated to the enjoyment of residents of Los Angeles County and is the result of years of research, planning and development by hundreds of public-spirited citizens and county, state and federal agencies. Constructed on the site of an ancient Spanish land grant known as Rancho La Ballona, its 760 acres of land and waterways will provide relaxation and recreation to countless thousands of persons in the years to come.” Dedicated April 10, 1965 —Board of Supervisors.

To me it states that recreation is paramount Ö. and the idea of “relaxation” is a very large part of the projected recreation and boating for Marina del Rey.

What a lovely concept and a draw our Marina could be to the outlying communities who, I’m sure, would visit and participate in Marina del Rey if we had followed the concept of the monument.

We have the areas (parking lots) that could be better utilized with a bit of organization and “creative management” to accomplish the concept.

Where is the analysis of projected population growth and the future for Marina del Rey additional recreational facilities? The county is undermining its own vision.

We have had quite a few controversial concepts proposed by developers in conjunction with the Department of Beaches and Harbors (DBH), such as a hotel on Mothers Beach — which would turn the promenade into a hotel strip and transfer recreational activity to Burton Chace Park.

Supervisor Don Knabe even admitted that that project was controversial. The hotel in question pulled out Ö and we have not had an explanation, nor a staff report of why.

The DBH seems intent on messing with Mothers Beach because they have secured an “outside architectural firm” — Gruen & Associates — to work on a Mothers Beach Concept Plan.

How much of our money has the “county” committed to pay them? How much was spent on RRM/Keith Gurnee for their Beach Strategic Plan relating to Mothers Beach? It seems that if they shelve one plan they just get another developer.

The county maintains records of usage for the Mothers Beach area for every group who reserves the picnicking areas. Were they notified or advised of a “public meeting” regarding the area in question?

What outreach has been done to outlying areas about their possible recreational interests in our future?

What notification has been sent to the residents and business owners requesting their comments and participation in meetings or workshops that so affect our community R&R?

The California Coastal Commission has recommended that the county hold public hearings to advise us of their planning projects.

The county allegedly states that there is a lack of money to hold public hearings while they go out and hire yet another development company to further their interests rather than ours.

I urge you to get involved by attending the Small Craft Harbor Commission as well as the Design Control Board meetings, or at least call the Department of Beaches and Harbors to get on the e-mailing list for each and every meeting that affects our Marina. Get informed.

D.G. Franklin, Marina resident and boat owner

Says no comparison of Santa Barbara RV parking program to Venice

To the Editor:

I am responding to the article concerning Venice community leaders looking at Santa Barbara’s RV parking program (Argonaut, April 1st).

I have been a resident and homeowner in Venice for 24 years.

Many residents of Venice are adamantly opposed to RVs in parking lots in Venice and some feel that City Councilman Bill Rosendahl has been deaf and blind to the impact that RVs have had on our community.

How many RVs are there or would there be in the councilman’s neighborhood? Venice is not a campground.

We need enforcement of the current regulations banning sleeping in vehicles overnight. Without enforcement, this problem will continue and grow, with or without a parking lot program.

Comparing Venice and Santa Barbara is apples and oranges.

Santa Barbara County is 2,737 square miles, population 422,000, and density of 145 persons per square mile.

The city of Santa Barbara is 41.4 square miles, population 90,000, density of 4,865 persons per square mile, with numerous parking lots in commercial only and industrial zones, approximately 400 RVs, or people living in vehicles, 9.66 RVs per square mile. One RV for every 225 persons, and numerous ordinances banning RVs and enforced with posted signs within the one mile coastal zone.

Los Angeles County is 4,061 miles, population 9,863,000, density per square miles of 2,427 persons. Population of the City of Los Angeles is 3,833,000, 469 square miles, density per square mile of 8,205 persons.

Venice is 1.975 miles, population 31,200, density 15,800 per square mile, almost double the average density of Los Angeles and over three times the density of Santa Barbara, with approximately 400 RVs or people living in vehicles, 200 RVs per square mile, one RV for every 78 residents and all parking lots are in near proximity or right next to single family or other residences.

While there may be other places in Los Angeles city or county where this could work, there is not one suitable parking lot in Venice for such a program without having an impact on neighbors.

Ty Allison, Venice