Easy solution to runway incursions

To the Editor:

Regarding Board of Airport Commissioners’ obsession with moving the LAX north runway into Westchester:

The real solution is easy. Simply prohibit landing aircraft from crossing an active runway.

Jack Keady, Playa del Rey

Limit development until transportation is in place

To the Editor:

Regarding the story “Neighborhood Council to meet on proposed 31-story tower Jan. 23” in the January 17th Argonaut, I have a question to the city and county leadership on the proposal.

Why 31 stories? Why not 35 or 40 or even 50? You and your special-interests friends would make a lot more money and really give the country something to talk about when it comes to the redevelopment of our beloved Marina del Rey.

There should be no more massive, high-density development allowed along Lincoln Boulevard from the airport area to Santa Monica, nor in the Marina, until such time as a long-term transportation plan for Lincoln Boulevard and the Westside is in place and working — not a lot of talk and political rhetoric, but solid substance.

This also applies to the Glencoe mixed-use development, which is also high-density.

Richard Chew, Playa del Rey

Writer says it’s hypocritical for City Council to cut trees while it promotes sustainability

To the Editor:

The decision by the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission not to designate the downtown ficus trees with landmark status was a disappointment, but hardly a surprise. Some of the commission members were sympathetic, but not enough to go out on a limb and stand in the way of “urban renewal.”

Rather than taking a strong stand in support of saving these trees, the commission members, except for one dissenting member, voted to allow these beautiful trees to be uprooted and either mulched or moved and face a very uncertain future. These are not young saplings that are easy to transplant.

As I said to our city manager, it is rather ironic that Santa Monica’s man in charge of protecting our trees argued forcibly in favor of having them removed and replaced by trees that offer far less foliage. A large number of the Treesavers group are residents of this city and will be voting in the next election. I personally promise that this will be a major campaign issue.

“It is time for change,” as our presidential hopefuls are fond of repeating, but here in Santa Monica we can begin that change at home by removing these rubber-stamp advocates for a city agenda that promotes growth, chain stores and increased revenues, etc.

How hypocritical for a City Council (that supposedly promotes sustainability) to favor a sterile and even more commercial cityscape against the natural aesthetic and historical value of the beautiful tree canopy that enhances our downtown ambiance.

There has been quite a bit of publicity surrounding the ill-advised decision to remove or destroy our downtown ficus trees, and now this contretemps will most likely wind up in court. If that fails, it is time to take it to the streets. Power to the people!

Jonathan Mann, Santa Monica

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl urges public to vote ‘yes’ on Proposition S to preserve LA city services

To the Editor:

Los Angeles voters face a stark choice when they go to the polls February 5th ñ and it isn’t about who the next president will be. With Proposition S, voters will determine the future of vital services, such as public safety, street repair, and parks and libraries.

I hate when politicians revert to scare tactics, so I am not exaggerating when I say that city services you and I rely upon every day will be eviscerated if Proposition S does not pass. I strongly urge you to vote in favor of this measure.

Proposition S, more formally known as the “Reduction of Tax Rate and Modernization of Communications Users Tax,” is a simple issue that has been made more complicated by courts and by political consultants.

Since 1967, Los Angeles has had a ten percent tax on communication services, such as phone service and satellite communications. It accounts for $270 million annually. As a result of a lawsuit and a resulting court ruling, the tax is being thrown out — unless the voters specifically ratify it.

Losing that much money — about six percent of the city’s budget — would be a nightmare. Cops and firefighters might be laid off. Fewer streets would get repaved. Operating hours for parks and libraries would be cut back. That’s not the City of Los Angeles you want or deserve.

Faced with such an ugly scenario, my colleagues and I placed the issue on the ballot, and took the opportunity to trim the tax to nine percent, modernize it so it applies to current technologies, and close a few loopholes.

The revised and reduced tax is better, smarter and fairer. It reduces the tax burden slightly on phone users, extends coverage to services such as T1 phone lines, applies to corporations, and completely exempts low-income seniors and low-income people with disabilities. And despite some of the opposition propaganda, Proposition S does not apply to the Internet.

This is a tough year for the City of Los Angeles. The economy is slowing down, and the state and the federal government are sending less of our money back to us. How we handle our fiscal struggles makes a strong statement about who we are and what kind of city we want.

By voting yes on Proposition S, we can say we are the kind of people who do not want to cut back on public safety, infrastructure, or neighborhood services. We can say we are the kind of people who want to keep working for a better city. We can say that we are a people who have a positive vision for Los Angeles.

For our neighborhoods and for our city, I urge you to please vote YES on S.

Thank you.

Bill Rosendahl, Los Angeles City Councilman

Says Proposition 92 will help community colleges continue as a ‘gateway to a better life’

To the Editor,

Community Colleges have been a gateway to a better life for millions of Californians. The demand for community colleges continues to grow and we need to ensure that our colleges remain affordable and have the resources they need to serve that growing population. Proposition 92 on the February 5th ballot would do just that by providing adequate, stable funding and limiting fees.

For those who question whether California can afford the cost of Proposition 92, perhaps the better question is can we afford not to invest in our greatest asset, our people. According to a 2005 UC-Berkeley study, for every dollar spent on community colleges, California taxpayers realize an additional three dollars. The biggest mistake we can make during the current fiscal crisis is to neglect our human capital for the future.

At Santa Monica College, we’re proud to have transferred tens of thousands of students to four-year universities and provided crucial training to workers in a wide range of professions, including nursing, computer technology, new media and early childhood education. These highly trained workers are needed more than ever.

For many Californians, community college is the only opportunity they have to get a college education. By passing Proposition 92, we can ensure that everyone has a chance to go to college and we invest in a stronger California for all of us.

Rob Rader, chair Santa Monica College Board of Trustees

Supervisor Burke urges all Angelenos to join in reducing use of plastic bags

To the Editor:

For the past nine months Los Angeles County has demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to analyzing and addressing a significant menace to our quality of life — plastic bag litter.

Bans have become a jazzy catch phrase — a quick solution to any looming threat. But it became abundantly clear from the onset that if Los Angeles County officials were really committed to cleaning up our streets and storm drains, implementing a ban that would be limited to the county’s unincorporated area would not help us achieve these goals.

So the Board of Supervisors took a different approach. We brought all stakeholders — residents, environmental groups, plastic bag manufacturers and grocery store representatives — to the table, parties that usually don’t see eye to eye, for a series of meetings to come up with a solution.

The outcome was an aggressive initiative that requires benchmarks of 30 percent reduction of plastic bags by 2010 and 65 percent reduction by 2013, or an all-out ban will be seen as our most viable option.

The county’s Single Use Bag Reduction and Recycling Program unites industry and environmentalists in employing an arsenal of tactics, including aggressive promotion of reusable bags, consistent and provocative environmental outreach, and perhaps most promising, the implementation of a “per bag fee.” This in an effort to change consumer preferences and reduce the number of single use bags.

By adopting this program, Los Angeles County anticipates 1.8 billion fewer bags circulating in 2010. By 2013, 3.9 billion bags will be diverted from our trees, rivers, and ocean. This is no small feat.

If Los Angelenos want to see fewer bags blowing in the wind, we need everyone on board. We need active citizens urging their city officials to partner with L.A. County in setting these firm benchmarks.

We need media outlets committed to sustaining a public dialogue about the high cost and environmental impact of inappro- priate bag disposal. Most importantly, we need consumers who are empowered to opt not for paper over plastic, but for reusable.

Yvonne B. Burke, chair Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

Concerned about future of wildlife in Ballona Wetlands

To the Editor:

Thank you for publishing the story entitled “California Coastal Commission says county is not effectively implementing its Local Coastal Program,” in The Argonaut, January 17th.

I am a nature writer and a wildlife conservationist. I am very concerned about the future of all the wildlife and the wildlife habitat in the Ballona Wetlands. This wetlands area is an environmentally-sensitive habitat area.

I have seen aquatic birds within the wetlands, such as great blue herons, snowy egrets, green herons, mallards, northern pintails, western sandpipers, killdeer, snowy plovers, common snipe and, on rare occasions, Arctic terns, Canada geese and Cooper’s hawks.

The wetlands provides the necessary marsh habitat for aquatic birds’ survival. It is a necessary stopping place for migrating birds that travel along the Pacific Flyway Zone.

Marina del Rey has a unique wildlife habitat within its own backyard. The wetlands needs to be protected and spared from any future development. To lose this very special ecosystem would be a real shame.

Gerald Steven Tlapa, Los Angeles