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Jan17th Hearing: BallonaWetlands to State Park!!

by RevereRides Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2001 at 11:42 PM

A small area of the Ballona Wetlands could become a State Park...details here about the Jan 17th meeting, contact info, and web information..... as well as a newspaper article...





Following are two posts regarding a hearing on Jan 17th to make part of the Ballona Wetlands a state park:



************************************************************



- Playa Vista Mega Development or a New State Park - Jan. 17th @ 4:00

P.M. -

Most of us are not activists or environmentalists.

But this is our neighborhood.

We can say no to more strip malls & office space!

We can say no to 13,000 more housing units in our backyard!

We can say no to 26,000 more cars cutting through our neighborhood!

WE can say YES to a NEW STATE PARK between Mar Vista & Playa del Rey.

CARPOOLS:

If you need a ride, send me back an e-mail.

If you have room in your car for a neighbor, send me back an e-mail.

Better yet, invite a neighbor to go along.

Tom Ponton ewstogo@g...

State Controller Kathleen Connell has confirmed a public hearing date

for discussion on what citizens would like to see Area C become --

more strip malls and office space or a restored wetlands and

parkspace. Background: Area C is North of Ballona Creek and East of

Lincoln Boulevard. There are currently NO entitlements or permits for

this land (it's part of "Phase 2"). Culver Blvd. runs right through

the middle of Area C. A tidal creek from the sea ALSO runs through

this land. ....Area C provides food, refuge and home to thousands of

killifish, numerous bird species and two rare plants found nowhere

else in the remaining1,087 acre Ballona Wetlands ecosystem.

Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Loyola University, St. Roberts Hall Auditorium

7900 Loyola Blvd.

Los Angeles (Westchester)

4:00 - 6:30 pm

Know that losing Area C was a MAMMOTH LOSS for the developers. They

are going to fight very hard to try and get control of it again. We,

the community, need to ensure we keep the upper hand on this. Your

attendance will make the difference.

For additional information:

BALLONA WETLANDS LAND TRUST

Phone: (310) 338-1413 or Toll Free at 1-877-Wetland

Fax: (310) 399-2920

Email: ballona@e...

Website: www.ballona.org

******************************************************



Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2001 23:07:14 -1000

From: Marcia Hanscom wetlandact@e...

Subject: Ballona Hearing: WEDNESDAY 1/17 - 4-6:30 PM

Natural Park or Traffic-Generating Development? Which

would you rather

see for the 70+ acres of the Ballona Wetlands ecosystem

known as "Area

C" on Ballona Creek?

Come and express your views at a hearing called by

California State

Controller Kathleen Connell

Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Loyola University, St. Roberts Hall Auditorium

7900 Loyola Blvd.

Los Angeles (Westchester)

4:00 - 6:30 pm

parking is approximately 5-10 walking distance from the

Auditorium

see: and click on campus map for further

details about the

location of the Auditorium from the entrance of the

campus

PLEASE TELL ALL OF YOUR NEIGHBORS, FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO

COME TO THIS

IMPORTANT HEARING. THIS IS THE FIRST PARCEL OF LAND AT

BALLONA THAT IS

POSSIBLE TO BECOME A NATURAL STATE PARK AREA -- and not

tied to an

untenable development!

There are currently NO entitlements or permits for this

land (it's part

of "Phase 2"); it's boundaries are Ballona Creek to the

south, Lincoln

Blvd. to the west and the 90 Marina freeway to the east.

Culver Blvd.

runs right through the middle of Area C. A tidal creek

from the sea

ALSO runs through this land. ....Area C provides food,

refuge and home

to thousands of killifish, numerous bird species, two

rare plants found

nowhere else in the remaining1,087 acre Ballona Wetlands

lands....definitely worth preserving and restoring as a

natural are

park.

COME ON - EVERYONE - this is an EASY one to support.

PHASE 2 - NO

entitlements; NO permits; land ALREADY belongs to the

State. See you

there for a BIG win for Los Angeles and the Pacific

Flyway!

Wetlands Action Network

Protecting & Restoring Wetlands Along the Pacific

Migratory Pathways

PO Box 1145

Malibu, CA 90265

310-456-5604; fax: 310-456-5612

From: "Marcia Hanscom" [Add to Address Book]

Subject: Connell Requests Wetlands Hearing

Ballona Activists: Letters to the Editor are in order! Advocate for

these 70+ acres of land to be moved into State Parks' hands, for Bowen

and Nakano to step up to the plate to author legislation for this - to

do what their constituents want!; Praise Connell for her courage, for

the public hearing; plea with people to attend the hearing; correct the

record; comment on Playa Vista's negative impacts. SPEAK UP!!! Please

write: Letters to the Editor, Daily Breeze, 5215 Torrance Blvd.,

Torrance, CA 90503

email:

---------

Connell Requests Wetlands Hearing

Latest Playa Vista flap may take political tone

Daily Breeze (distribution in South Bay, including Los Angeles

communities of Playa del Rey, Venice, Mar Vista and San Pedro)

January 7, 2001 - FRONT PAGE, SUNDAY EDITION (above the fold)

By Mary Moore

STAFF WRITER

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

------

Taking a swipe at Playa Vista's developer and seeking favor with Los

Angeles environmentalists, state Controller Kathleen Connell has called

for a public hearing to determine what should happen to property coveted

by the developer but owned by the state.

Playa Vista Capital had an option to buy the 73-acre piece of land,

which the state acquired in 1984 from the Howard Hughes Estate to settle

a tax debt. However, the deadline on the option expired on Dec. 31 --

without an offer to buy from Playa.

Connell, a Los Angeles mayoral candidate, could have extended the

option, but decided not to. Her decision, a surprise to the developer,

throws a wrench into Playa's plans to develop the land -- although the

delay may be more symbolic than damaging.

Playa executives had hoped Connell would extend the option so they could

postpone a decision to buy the land. That decision hinges on whether the

next phase of the Westchester-area development receives necessary

environmental approvals.

The development has been mired in bitter feuds between the developer and

environmentalists, who oppose any development and favor restoring the

area as the Ballona Wetlands.

Environmentalists are claiming victory as Connell moves forward with

plans for a public discussion on alternative uses for the 73 acres, a

hearing that could be scheduled in as little as two weeks. They are

urging Connell to support their proposal: give the 73 acres to the state

parks department and preserve it as open space.

Connell, a member of the State Lands Commission, estimates the 73-acre

parcel east of Lincoln Boulevard is worth 5million, although people

familiar with the property say that appraisal does not account for

methane contamination discovered on the Playa Vista property.

Although Connell said she likes the idea of preserving the area as open

space, she is not committed to a particular proposal. For example, she

said, housing activists support the Playa Vista development for the

affordable rental units and homes it offers.

"I'm going to be keeping an open mind," she said. "It's the last piece

of major land intact in the city of Los Angeles."

Option created by Davis

The option agreement for the land created by Gov. Gray Davis when he was

state controller and Maguire Thomas was the Playa Vista developer. In

1994, Davis extended the option.

Playa executives said they are disappointed Connell refused to extend

the option, but they are quick to add that they could still end up with

the property. The agreement gives Playa Capital the right to match any

future offers -- a right of first refusal.

"The developer continues to look forward to developing it," said Coby

King, a Playa spokesman.

If Connell and lawmakers push to convert the parcel into a park, rather

than sell it, Playa's rights are unclear. The option applies most

clearly to a sale of the 73 acres, not to a parkland conversion.

Why didn't Playa exercise the option before it expired?

"Playa Vista had an option to purchase the land at 5 million and

didn't do so. We see this as a valuable piece of property," King said.

"But we really feel that, until entitlements are in place, it's probably

not a good idea to buy the land."

If a state-mandated environmental analysis of the next development phase

passes legal muster, Playa Vista will be eligible to apply for permits

to build -- known as entitlements. At that point, King said, buying the

73-acre parcel might make more sense.

King said the environmental reports could be out in the next two or

three months. Others familiar with the Playa project say the report may

be out on Jan. 15.

According to King, Playa's original plan for the 73 acres includes 21

acres of open space, a salt water lagoon, habitat restoration and

parks. The area also would include 2,000 new homes, 900,000 square feet

of offices, and 30,000 square feet of community space. King said the

entire Playa project earmarks 25 percent of its housing units as

affordable.

"The Westside is crying out for affordable housing," he said.

A matter of timing

Connell's involvement in the fate of the 73 acres is perfectly timed for

her run for mayor, fueling speculation that she has picked Playa Vista

to showcase herself as an environmentalist -- a criticism Connell

denies.

She first took a public stand on Playa Vista last summer, when she

blocked a deal backed by Playa Capital and Los Angeles City Councilwoman

Ruth Galanter to swap the state's 73-acre land for developer-owned land

west of Lincoln Boulevard.

Connell balked, arguing that the state-controlled land is worth more

than the land the developer was willing to offer. The swap would have

given Playa developers the state's parcel cash-free, but it would have

allowed Galanter and the nonprofit Friends of Ballona Wetlands to

acquire a piece of the wetlands that they consider more viable for

restoration than the 73-acre site.

Playa's lobbyists approached Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Redondo Beach, and

then-Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, asking them to introduce

legislation and make the land swap happen.

But the request came near the end of the legislative session -- not

enough time for Bowen and Villaraigosa, who refused to do anything

unless they knew the true value of the land to be swapped.

If the 73 acres is turned into a park, that land swap proposal would be

rendered irrelevant. The developer no longer would have anything to

swap. Bowen, however, has said she may reintroduce legislation

authorizing a land swap.

Candidates take stands

Coming just three months before the city's election, Connell's recent

strong stance on Playa Vista follows Villaraigosa's position.

Villaraigosa, another candidate for Los Angeles mayor, became the

darling of the anti-Playa Vista environmentalists when he pushed for a

million park bond, a portion of which is earmarked to buy land at

Playa

Vista and restore it as wetlands. Voters approved the bond last spring.

Connell's critics question whether her recent high profile on Playa

Vista is an orchestrated effort to outshine Villaraigosa as the

environmental candidate for mayor. On that score, however, Villaraigosa

appears to be the one to beat.

He has received an endorsement from the League of Conservation Voters

and has been recommended for an endorsement by the Sierra Club's

political committee. The Sierra Club's endorsement is expected as early

as this

week.

Meanwhile, Connell sits on the board of the Ballona Wetlands Foundation,

a group formed two years ago as part of the settlement ending a lawsuit

over the Playa Vista development. The Foundation board has four members,

all of them parties to the original lawsuit: Galanter, Playa Capital,

the Friends of Ballona, and the State Controller's Office.

A representative from Connell's office has attended two or three of the

monthly meetings, said Ruth Lansford, president of both the Friends of

Ballona and the Ballona Wetlands Foundation. That record, she said,

compares to the other three on the board: each has sent representatives

to every meeting.

"I have felt that (Connell) didn't really take that much interest,"

Lansford said. "I presume now that her interest has something to do with

running for mayor."

Environmentalists weigh in

Connell gets no criticism from the hard-core anti-Playa Vista

environmentalists -- those who favor zero development on the property

and total restoration of the Ballona Wetlands. To them, Connell is as

much a hero as Villaraigosa.

"This is the biggest thing to happen since DreamWorks pulled out of the

project," Sabrina Venskus, president of the Ballona Wetlands Land Trust,

said of Connell's refusal to extend the option deadline. "This is huge."

The next challenge could be the biggest one: convincing Connell to go

one step further and make sure the 73 acres is turned into a park.

Environmentalists, -- for that matter, Connell herself -- will need to

find a Sacramento lawmaker willing to introduce legislation formalizing

the park proposal. Playa Vista's property falls under the purview of

Bowen and Assemblyman George Nakano, D-Torrance, making them the most

likely candidates.

Bowen said she is considering a bill to create a Playa Vista park.

However, she said, introducing a bill to revive last year's attempted

land swap deal between Playa Capital and the state is equally possible.

That leaves Connell.

"I think a park is one of the options we need to explore," she said.

"I've been supportive of park lands in the past."

###



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