YOUR PRESENCE IS NEEDED to help send a message to the City's Chief Law Enforcement Officer, City Attorney James Hahn, to STOP the illegal
destruction of wetlands habitat at the Ballona Wetlands in Los Angeles.
(his phone number is below near end of message.)
A public demonstration will take place from 3 pm to 6 pm at the southwest corner of Lincoln Blvd. & Jefferson Blvd. TODAY, March 14. PLEASE come, bring signs, bring friends, neighbors and family - or just
Please be careful about where you park on Jefferson, as some locations show "no parking" now. You may want to park on Lincoln, south of the Ballona Wetlands in Westchester, and walk down the hill on Lincoln,
north to the demonstration corner. Or park on streets near the post office or in the marina and walk from those directions.
Background: On Monday, March 12, federal judge Ronald Lew vacated the injunction we have had for two and one half years protecting 16 acres of
scattered wetlands throughout lands east of Lincoln Blvd., as well as on the southwest corner of Lincoln & Jefferson. This was because of instructions given to Judge Lew by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, who
overturned his 1998 decision in our favor.
Our lawyers present at the hearing requested that the Judge give us one week to allow our new attorneys who are preparing motions for the United States Supreme Court to appear before him to request the injunction remain in place while we appeal to the Supreme Court. Our new lead counsel, Bruce Terris, a seasoned, champion environmental lawyer who won
a landmark environmental case at the Supreme Court last year (Laidlaw), was in trial in Virginia on Monday and could not be present at the "status hearing" that Judge Lew had called. Judge Lew refused to
calendar a time for Mr. Terris to appear.
At the hearing developer lawyers Latham & Watkins stated their project would "likely collapse" and was in "jeopardy" - with "serious financial consequences" if they did not have the injunction lifted. Finally,
after initially stating he would give the parties 30 days to brief the issue as to whether or not any further issues remained in the case after the Appeals Court has overturned his ruling, Judge Lew ordered the
injunction vacated, allowing the bulldozers to roll. Observers on the scene at Ballona who were filming the wetlands reported that it was within minutes of the decision that the machines began their damage.
So - if this is all "legal" now - why are we complaining?
1) Playa Vista Capital - as usual - is NOT following the law. They are destroying habitat and grading in PHASE 2 areas, where, while they may have a federal permit back in place to destroy wetlands, they DO NOT
have any local authority to continue this destruction. Just under the LMU (Loyola Marymount University) sign is major land acreage that has NEVER undergone ANY state or federal environmental review and has no
city permits. This has been confirmed with the City's Building & Safety Dept., yet the City Attorney's office reports, "all of the permits are in order."
It is - perhaps - not a surprise that the City Attorney repeats Playa Vista Capital's mantra, as his chief fundraiser for his campaign for Mayor of Los Angeles is Playa Vista's chief lobbyist at City Hall, Lisa
Specht (who is married to Playa Vista's chief p.r. guy, Ron Rogers.)
2) Playa Vista Capital - in several pleadings to the Court last year claimed they had to begin bulldozing then because other permits did not allow them to bulldoze in the wetlands during the rainy season or during
nesting season. Recent rains have made it such that the 'dozers are sloshing through major muddy, wet areas as they decimate willows, pickleweed, cattails and other wetlands vegetation. Large numbers of
waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds have been disturbed by this activity. It is possible that at least two species of rare songbirds could have begun nesting already this year in the region where bulldozing has begun.
3) Washington D.C. law firm Terris, Millian & Pravlick are busy preparing motions to petition the U.S. Supreme Court for writ of certiorari and are working on emergency relief from this horrible destruction. Bulldozers are working equally as dilligently to attempt
to destroy as much habitat as they possibly can in an effort to make the case irrelevant. If the developers are NOT allowed to work in Phase 2, where they SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO WORK, they can NOT make this case irrelevant. We ARE going to the Supreme Court.
4) Playa Vista Capital STILL has no building permits in PHASE ONE for lands south of Jefferson, which is where the wetlands destruction activity is taking place. The City has NOT YET accepted the report that
has been released about the methane hazards. The largest methane seeps are in areas where soil is being bulldozed right now, which prejudices
any independent investigations, such as that being undertaken by the State Lands Commission. THERE IS NO REASON for Playa Vista to be doing
this destruction. They could easily be waiting for a decision from the Supreme Court, which might be well decided before the City allows building permits to proceed.
The destruction is only being done in order to destroy habitat as fast as possible, so the lawyers can tell the court that "there is no habitat remaining" They've tried this before when it was not true, and it's not ture yet. It will NOT be true if you help act today to STOP this
Please make a call to the City to demand they require Playa Vista follow the conditions of their Phase I permits and that they GET OUT of Phase 2
City Attorney James Hahn
Yesterday as we were documenting the destruction of the wetlands and working to get City inspectors out to the site, we observed two activists who were trying to physically stop the bulldozing on site. We respect and honor the courage these two men had, as they literally risked their lives to protect the precious life at the wetlands.
It was quite a picture, watching large white Egrets flying to escape the bulldozers as two men ran in front of the machines - one of which actually came into contact with one of the men. It was also compelling to watch police officers, who long ago must have forgotten what it was
like to play in the mud, carefully tip-toeing out into the wetlands in their bright yellow rubber boots, trying desperately not to get wet.
When the officers finally arrived out where the men were holding vigil in the midst of the wetlands, the police discovered the men were holding
two King Snakes they had rescued from the bulldozers. As officers tried to get the men to ditch the snakes, the men insisted they were only leaving if they could take the snakes to the other side of the fence and
release them into wetlands where no Coastal Commission permits yet existed. They released the snakes and left the land peacefully. After
this approximately 2 1/2 hour drama played out, the bulldozers once again began chasing the Great Egrets, Northern Shovelers, Cinnamon Teal,
Yellow-Legs, Killdeer, Black-Necked Stilts and many, many other species of birds, insects, mammals and plants.