Not surprised council incumbents got support of Santa Monica employee board

To the Editor:

I’m not surprised that the Coalition of Santa Monica Employees’ has endorsed the reelection of only City Council incumbents. That’s why I didn’t seek their endorsement.

Why does Santa Monica need 1,600 city employees for a town that’s just 8.3 square miles of land? Why does Santa Monica reportedly pay the second highest city manager salary next to Bell according to the recent Los Angeles Times exposé, plus a $1.3 million low interest mortgage offer? Plus what else? How many other city employees have City Hall loans? How much are city employee pensions costing us? I’ve spent 30 years fighting for employee rights, but these are hard times for everyone.

Too often City Council incumbents have voted for salary increases and for new positions just before elections. While not necessarily improper, endorsements by city employees who are on the receiving end of incumbents’ “generosity with taxpayer money” smell — especially post-city of Bell scandal.

No wonder the Coalition of Santa Monica Employees’ president wants “continuity.” My supporters and I, on the other hand, want to see the long overdue tightening of Santa Monica’s financial belt.

Susan J. Hartley, Law Offices of Susan J. Hartley, Santa Monica

Responds to county’s comments on boating council’s LCP position

To the Editor:

RE: Proposed Marina LCP amendment criticized by Marina del Rey Boating Council (Argonaut, Sept. 9):

Charlotte Miyamoto’s (of the Department of Beaches and Harbors) comments on behalf of the county pretty much highlight the very points of contention that the Marina Community Boating Council has had with the process.

The NR parcel (parking lot) “had an RFP (request for proposals) for redevelopment for a long time” (that’s the reason she gave for including it in the pipeline process), which is the point we’re making in regards to the “Save Tara” ruling — that these decisions were allegedly made prior to any impact studies.

She also said that the project will go through the Regional Planning Commission, county Board of Supervisors, and California Coastal Commission for approvals. But it begs the question: why change the law (the LCP is the law governing the Marina) for a change of use (parking to residential), when the impact of changing that law hasn’t even been studied, and the studies that have been conducted preclude the change? It’s irrelevant whether the project itself can theoretically be open to “public input.” The law shouldn’t be changed. It puts the onus on the public instead of the developer.

Finally, as noted in the Argonaut story, the county counsel before every meeting gives a disclaimer that the proceedings don’t constitute any approvals — the “Save Tara” disclaimer.

However, just because it’s stated doesn’t make it so. Decisions were made in this process that require CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) compliance. This is a serious legal vulnerability for the county, and seriously puts in jeopardy all of its decisions as a result of this process.

This will come to light soon enough. The representatives of the public should keep pushing.

Steven Cho, MDR Community, Boating Council Redondo Beach

Notes most county waste disposal sites are long distances from Venice

To the Editor:

RE: RV dumping: Unlike cities like San Diego that have free RV dumping, there is only one “hole in the ground,” free or not free in the entire “west of the L.A. River” part of Los Angeles that an RV can use. That is Dockweiler State Beach, between 16 and 24 miles round-trip from Venice, depending on the route.

They charge $10 for an RV to dump and are rather fussy regarding the equipment. If they do not like your equipment you are allegedly refused.

So if you happen to be a desperately poor person (perhaps “ejected” from Skid Row), where do you go?

Also, I will bet you that a very large portion of the RV dwellers in Venice do no have any information about Dockweiler Beach having a dumping facility. Is it really that surprising that there is illegal dumping when the city allegedly refuses to provide facilities for legal dumping?

Can there be any dissemination of information about where legal dumping can be done?

I certainly had interest in the article that appeared in the Sept. 9 issue of The Argonaut, “RV owners warned against dumping sewage waste in public streets,” quoting L.A. County Public Works Director Gail Farber:

“With more than 20 permitted waste disposal sites located in Los Angeles County alone there is no excuse for this practice.”

While I agree that there is no excuse for that practice, I do not feel that it is quite as easy to take care of the problem as the article implies. She is right that in the entire area of Los Angeles County (4,061 square miles, population 9.8 million) there are only 20 private disposal facilities. But what she does not tell you is that they are all long distances from Venice Beach.

Here is the list she suggests from and the round-trip distances from Venice (According to Google maps):

Artesia (68 mi), Bellflower (54 mi), Carson (42 mi), Castaic (84 mi), Cerritos (56 mi), Glendora (90 mi) La Verne (97 mi), Lakewood (57 mi), two places in Long Beach (55 mi and 57 mi), Monrovia (70 mi), Montebello (53 mi), Pico Rivera (63 mi), Pomona (97 mi), San Dimas (104 mi), three places in Santa Clarita (68 mi) West Covina (85 mi) Not only are these places far away but there are high fees involved ($20 plus).

The other place she suggests is the SAFE Hyperion Treatment plant, 7660 Imperial Highway, Playa del Rey. I dropped by the gate and asked about the facility and I was told that there was no RV dumping allowed. The SAFE program is a weekend program for household hazardous waste and not intended for RVs.

These are terrible economic times when people are unemployed for long periods of time and rents are sky-high. If you cannot afford $1,000 or $1,500 for rent an RV is maybe one of the last opportunities to not sleep on the pavement. Poor people need help in times like this.

Bob Tommaso, Westchester

Says it’s FAA’s job to protect neighborhoods from airport impacts

To the Editor:

RE: “Residents encouraged after meeting with Waxman regarding air pollution, safety at Santa Monica Airport” (Argonaut, Sept. 9):

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor’s response to the California legislature’s appeal to have the federal government establish and implement a reasonable distance between aircraft operations and exposed populations, is that the FAA has procedures in place to limit jet exhaust at Santa Monica Airport (SMO). He goes on to say that the FAA is not in any way responsible for the construction of homes so close to the airport.

In the North Westdale neighborhood east of the airport, it is not difficult to find some sidewalks stamped with the year “1929.” No one has said that the FAA had any role in the local housing development. However, what does appear to be the responsibility of the FAA, besides safety, is to guard against extreme impacts from aviation; be it noise or air pollution.

The recent state-of-the-art UCLA study captured what residents east of SMO have been complaining about for some 20 years: levels of pollution from SMO jets are reaching more than 1,000 times background levels. The FAA, along with the city of Santa Monica, was responsible for changing SMO into an airport that brought in these corporate and private jets by the thousands.

In 1991, the FAA implemented a change in SMO IFR (instrument flight rules) takeoff procedures requiring Los Angeles International Airport clearance, resulting in greatly increased idle/hold times and emissions from jets at SMO. Also in 1991, the Department of Transportation/FAA issued an interdepartmental memo warning of a critical jet blast area of 300 feet to protect personnel and sensitive equipment from idling jets and jet blast.

The new landing equipment was never installed. In 1994 $10 million was spent to resurface the runway to accommodate the jets, after which jet traffic began to skyrocket. No care was given to residents living closer than 300 feet from jet blast. Why? So the wealthy could jet comfortably into SMO without any thought of what the new impacts from jet traffic would do to the surrounding communities?

Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution was founded in 2003 to organize, educate, and advocate with regard to these intolerable new impacts.

Gregor also states, “The FAA has a long history of addressing concerns expressed by people who live around Santa Monica AirportÖ” My reply: The Santa Monica Airport Agreement signed by the FAA and the city of Santa Monica in 1984 was supposed to address community concerns about noise. With jets accounting for approximately 90 percent of the noise violations, one can hardly argue that the community received any benefit with regard to noise from that agreement.

It is high time that the FAA recognize that it has a responsibility to address these critical issues, and not blow more smoke on the suffering community with comments that side-step the intent of the question and very much appear to be nothing more than smoke screens and mirrors.

Martin Rubin, Director Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution, Mar Vista