Questions Playa Vista Phase II impacts on nesting endangered bird

To the Editor:

Thank you for your in-depth coverage of the re-appearance of another endangered species in the June 17th Argonaut.

If the long-listed (since 1986) endangered least Bell’s vireo bird was seen nesting at Playa Vista, then the approval of Playa Vista Phase II should be questioned because of the existing endangered species habitat in the proposed construction zone.

If the least Bell’s vireo was seen nesting in the preserved areas of the Ballona Wetlands, then Playa Vista Phase II should be questioned because Playa Vista Phase II would be allegedly destroying even more wetland habitat, reducing available nesting sites.

Although some endangered, threatened and listed species are able to return to the Ballona ecosystem, many have been driven out for good by industrial, bulldozer-driven projects like those proposed by Playa Vista and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

I would like to see these species re-introduced in the Ballona ecosystem for future generations to study and enjoy.

Jack Neff, Los Angeles

Discusses effects of proposed plastic bag ban

To the Editor:

It is apparent from the proposed Santa Monica city ordinance to ban high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bags, except for take-out at restaurants, that it will be a state-wide “eco-tax.”

The “green fee” is slated to be 25 cents for any paper bag from the retailer, grocer or farmer at the market. This is unfortunate for two reasons: although, as I stated a year ago in council, when it first came up, the super light-weight and inexpensive bags are so good at what they do, before they inevitably break up and decompose that coastal cities may be justified in a ban, to prevent storm drain blockages.

Note also that even plant-derived plastic bags will be banned, although they are acknowledged to biodegrade.

As with the much-greater amount of material and energy that is required for the paper bags, we might do better to ban “low” density polypropylene bags at department and boutique stores, which are many times heavier than the HDPE bags.

It is surprising that a fifth of the HDPE bags are recycled, considering that (a) they’re only good for garbage, if they get dirty, and (b) they are quite often re-used by folks; recycling them is an unsanitary joke, though composting might be educational fun.

The retailers would get 10 of the 25 cents, which seems to be a quite an incentive for the overhead. However, has anyone seen any analysis on the energy requirements for the “reusable” replacement and their importation?

R. Brian Hutchings, Santa Monica

Coverage of sailor Abby Sunderland’s round-the-world attempt commended

To the Editor:

Kudos on bringing the community Pat Reynolds’ continuing outstanding coverage of Abby Sunderland’s sailing adventure (Argonaut, June 17th).

While other media outlets have focused on her parents, reality TV deals, and the cost of rescue operations, The Argonaut has consistently reported the facts without prejudgment.

Nautical News has proven to be the best source for the gripping details of this intrepid young woman’s amazing story.

Mark DeCew, Los Angeles

Delighted with article on least Bell’s vireos in wetlands

To the Editor:

Bravo for a wonderful article about the least Bell’s vireos (Argonaut, June 17th).

Robert “Roy” Van de Hoek, Marcia Hanscom and Jonathan Coffin of the Ballona Institute have done so much for the preservation of the Ballona Wetlands. Please continue to update the public on their progress in your upcoming editions.

What a delight to read this story, especially with the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico affecting the marshes and wetlands, birds and animals.

Gisel Nightengale, Culver City

Appreciates story on nesting endangered bird

To the Editor:

That photo speaks a million hopeful words with wings.

Your least Bell’s vireo nest story tugs at most humans’ hearts, no doubt (Argonaut, June 17th).

But there’s one question:

One of the nests is on publicly owned land in the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve — in willow thickets that were not ruined or ripped out by Playa Vista.

The Playa Vista leanings of the article are not appreciated by this reader who, incidentally, helped the least terns return to our protected Venice Beach nesting sites by shooing off those robbing crows for years. The similarities….

Ingrid Mueller, Venice

Claims endangered birds are nesting at Ballona in spite of Playa Vista’s efforts

To the Editor:

Re: “Endangered birds’ nesting draws scientists’ attention to restoration and recovery efforts” (Argonaut, June 17th).

In 1999 Playa Vista allegedly destroyed a huge amount of genuine “riparian corridor.” It was the historical Centinela Creek. With Bruce Robertson from Ballona Valley Preservation League I watched from the Loyola bluffs, and it felt like my heart was being pierced each time a bulldozer ripped out and shoved over a large willow tree.

The pain was enhanced, knowing that beneath the willows there were thousands of creatures being affected in an ecosystem that had found an equilibrium from the last time someone “moved” the creek — Howard Hughes allegedly tried to one-up Mother Nature before Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley’s Playa Capital tried again.

We don’t really know if least Bell’s vireo or other endangered songbirds were nesting in these willow thickets at the time, since protocol surveys for the vireo and the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher were never completed by Playa Vista’s consultants, at least two of whom are quoted in your article.

We do know that in 1998 Playa Vista bulldozed another riparian area west of Lincoln Boulevard just before environmental lawsuits were eligible to be filed, after a required 60-day notice was sent, charging violations of the Endangered Species Act. When shown photos of the “before” and “after” situation, wetlands expert Dr. Joy Zedler said, “It looks like a war zone.”

Evidence destroyed, no surveys could be done and no further compliance was necessary with this important federal law. And now they claim they’ve helped bring back the least Bell’s vireo? The one nest west of Lincoln Boulevard is in a remnant of that historical willow-lined stream, an area the bulldozers missed. So really, it is in spite of Playa Vista that these birds are back.

Marcia Hanscom, co-director Ballona Institute, Playa del Rey

Criticizes authority of environmental group on wetlands

To the Editor:

Friends of the Ballona Wetlands should step aside as any apparent authority on managing the wetlands.

As a longtime environmentalist and Sierra Club activist in preserving the area and fighting the Playa Vista project, I know the developers have tried everything to build, and many have made profits at the dispense of the environment.

We must trust the Ballona Institute and the Sierra Club with what they are suggesting in their opinions of the native plants in the wetlands.

We must allow all of these native plants to be organized and supported together in restoring our wetlands, which the “Friends” have allegedly called a dying wetland having no tidal flow.

And beware of the next time the [advocates] come down on the developers side to bulldoze the wetlands.

Dean Francois, Redondo Beach (former Redondo Beach Public Works commissioner)