Compiled by Kamala Kirk

Two lawsuits filed to stop bulldozing of Ballona Wetlands

Great egret hunting.
Photo by Jonathan Coffin, naturalist at Ballona Wetlands

Two lawsuits were filed on Jan. 28 by Defend Ballona Wetlands, along with Climate Reality Leader Molly Basler and wildlife biologist Robert van de Hoek in Los Angeles Superior Court. The lawsuits challenge California Department of Fish & Wildlife’s (CDFW) approval of an environmental impact report that would allow the complete destruction of the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve.

The Ballona Wetlands’ approximately 640 acres have been public owned since 2003 and are the last wetlands on the LA Coast.

“Our current governor’s cabinet members just this week announced a series of initiatives that support ‘Nature-Based Solutions’ to counter climate change,” said attorney Bryan Pease. “So how does Gov. Newsom justify a project that would bulldoze and excavate more than 2.5 million cubic yards of soil, paving the way for new fossil fuel infrastructure for the aging gas storage field under this ecological reserve?”

Basler and van de Hoek claim that CDFW failed to respond adequately to comments made by numerous organizations and community members, especially related to climate change and to endangered and other imperiled species that call Ballona home.

“It’s outrageous that CDFW did not address the fact that hundreds of acres filled with plants, animals and soils would be destroyed, even though they store and sequester carbon now,” said Basler. “Protecting carbon in place is crucial. Yet, their plan would obliterate a mosaic of habitats so that a salt marsh might sequester carbon in 100 years? We don’t have 100 years!”

Added van de Hoek, “The state cannot legally dismiss the many documented sightings of endangered species and species on the California List of Species of Special Concern. The law says they must address those species, and in many cases, they did not. The ‘Nature-Based Solution’ at Ballona is to protect the landscape, not to experiment with it.”


Council Member Göran Eriksson appointed to NLC’s TIS Committee

Council Member Göran Eriksson.

Culver City Council Member Göran Eriksson was recently appointed to the National League of Cities (NLC) 2021 Transportation and Infrastructure (TIS) Federal Advocacy Committee. He will serve a one-year term on the TIS Committee and will provide strategic direction and guidance for NLC’s federal advocacy agenda and policy priorities.

“Our federal advocacy committees are the voices of what’s happening on the ground in our communities,” said Kathy Maness, councilmember of Lexington, South Carolina, and NLC president, who announced Eriksson’s appointment. “I am proud to have Göran Eriksson join NLC’s TIS Committee on behalf of his residents. Together with a team of local leaders from around the country, we will work to solve the most pressing challenges facing our communities.”

Eriksson will play a key role among a diverse group of local leaders in shaping NLC’s policy positions and advocating on behalf of America’s cities and towns before Congress, with the administration and at home. He also serves on the Culver City Council Mobility Traffic & Parking Subcommittee alongside Mayor Alex Fisch and the Ad Hoc LAX Subcommittee with Councilmember Albert Vera.

“I am honored to be appointed to this important committee and enthusiastic to hit the ground running to develop policy priorities in areas such as fleet electrification and charging systems, as well as drone integration and aviation noise,” Eriksson said. “I am especially eager to help shape policy in areas like equity in transportation and the future of revenue and congestion pricing, which impact communities across the nation that might not otherwise be quick to adopt new transportation technology.”

This year’s committee leadership includes Chair David Sander, Vice Chair Elaine Clegg and Vice Chair Barbara Odom-Wesley. NLC is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. It is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, and represents more than 218 million Americans.


Santa Monica expands outdoor dining on Third Street Promenade

The city of Santa Monica’s 33rd emergency supplement, signed on Jan. 28, allows restaurants on the Third Street Promenade to serve patrons at “satellite” locations within the pedestrian district.

This expansion of outdoor dining is intended to allow for safe, socially distanced dining spaces while supporting the recovery efforts of the promenade. Restaurants looking to take advantage of “satellite” dining zones must enter into a temporary outdoor encroachment agreement with the city and follow any other regulations required by the director of the Community Development Department.

“As LA County eases health orders to allow for outdoor dining, we will continue to adapt our public spaces creatively and safely to serve the community and support local businesses,” said Interim City Manager Lane Dilg. “We look forward to everyone enjoying outdoor dining experiences at our beloved local businesses once again and ask everyone to do so only with members of your household, to wear a mask or two when you are not eating, and to take all precautions to ensure that we maintain and improve public health together.”

For more information on applying for an outdoor encroachment agreement, visit santamonica.gov/economicrecovery

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