The Ballona Creek Watershed Task Force has a 10-year history of delivering innovative, well-conceived planning documents. The Ballona Creek Watershed Management Plan and Ballona Creek Greenway Plan are still used today as sources of information and ideas for projects to clean up the water and create habitat and recreation opportunities along Ballona Creek.
The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission (SMBRC) has coordinated the bi-monthly meetings of the task force for the last decade or so, providing a forum for information sharing and discussion of environmental issues and projects. It is an important function, appreciated by local stakeholders, and SMBRC has been committed to providing it.
Our decision earlier this month to withdraw from the task force comes after several years of trying to manage extremely disruptive people who have used the meetings to attack others professionally and personally, and promote their own fringe agendas. Such environmental red herrings are easily ignored except in a small meeting room where a handful of disrespectful individuals are determined that only their pet peeves will be aired, at the expense of all other people’s interests.
The worst of these meetings have involved attacks and accusations of embezzlement, fraud and other crimes, as well as juvenile insults, directed at staff of the SMBRC and guest speakers at the meetings. As professionals, we do not respond to ludicrous charges or personal affronts, but we do get tired of them. When public discourse degenerates into childish playground scrapping, we do not participate and certainly cannot spend our limited resources in providing a forum for it.
There is good news, though. The planning for the Ballona Wetlands restoration project is going extremely well, and we are proud to be a part of it. The result will be a beautiful, 600-acre oasis for people and wildlife. The walking trails, overlooks, learning areas and expanses of open space being considered would transform this abused urban space into a treasure of the Southern California coastline. The task force has no impact on the wetlands restoration planning, which has enormous community support.
Other good news: The notes of support we have received since our decision to withdraw from the task force show there is an engaged community of people who continue to devote time and energy to environmental planning and activism in the Ballona Watershed. They are still committed to the goal of transforming the concrete waterway into a lush and healthy greenway for all to enjoy.
The SMBRC is here to help and will enthusiastically participate in future efforts with productive and positive stakeholders and partners. We look forward to it.
Dr. Shelley Luce
Executive Director
Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission