The plan for Ballona is the only means to accomplish all goals set for Ballona

By Dr. David W. Kay

Contrary to allegations made in Opinion (Nov. 11 Argonaut, “Gov. Newsom Shouldn’t Bulldoze LA’s Ballona Wetlands”), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s plan for Ballona is the only means to accomplish all of the goals set for Ballona after 20 years and counting of expert studies, exhaustive stakeholder engagement and public dialogue. Any other choice falls short and is settling for half a loaf.

The opponents brand bulldozers as villains, conveniently omitting that large-scale earthmoving has been the only practical method for restoring infilled tidelands statewide, including Tijuana Estuary, San Dieguito Lagoon, Bolsa Chica, Malibu Lagoon, Carpinteria, and the list of over 200 projects goes on. At Ballona, 3 million cubic yards of weedy, dry fill dirt dumped from Marina del Rey’s construction must be removed to reclaim any semblance of a functioning tidal wetland at the infilled area. In the course of repurposing this fill, the Fish and Wildlife project creates over 10 miles of new foot and bicycle paths proposed around the fringe of the ecological reserve, as well as modern, vegetated flood control berms to replace Ballona Creek’s massive concrete slopes.

The familiar opponents, who have neither the facts nor law on their side, always resort to pounding on the table. Their fictional narratives claim the state project will kill thousands of sensitive plants and animals, will harm the public health, destroy groundwater resources, create a Disneyland amusement park, is a petroleum industry conspiracy, will cause a methane explosion apocalypse and unleash a flood of biblical proportions, washing Playa del Rey into the sea. It’s all just baseless table-pounding.

They also claim it’s too expensive. Not for Los Angeles, it’s not. We’re the greatest city on the entire Pacific Rim. 8 million people live in the region and 2.8 million within a short drive of Ballona. We want and deserve the best. Fish and Wildlife and all state taxpayers want to build us the Wetlands’version of a safe, clean, high-performing and luxurious supercar. The opponents just want to throw a new coat of paint on an old Volvo, one that handles poorly, has no airbags, gets bad gas mileage and pollutes the air.

Sure, the supercar version of Ballona is expensive and it will take longer. So was Bolsa Chica, Malibu, the 405 expansion, the Mars missions, our Metro Rail expansions, our interstate highways, water supply projects and every other large public benefit project we’ve undertaken. As President Kennedy once remarked, “We choose to do these and all the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” He was and is still right. We shouldn’t ever settle for the old Volvo at Ballona.

Power to Speak is The Argonaut’s guest opinion column for community members to voice their views on local matters and does not represent an editorial position or endorsement by The Argonaut. The opinions, experiences, research and data analysis expressed in this article are the author’s own. Have a unique point of view on a neighborhood matter or a national issue with a local twist? Email kkirk@timespublications.com.

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