|[April 29, 2014]
Grassroots Coalition Announces -- California Coastal Commission Finds Playa Vista's Illegal Water Drainage Devices Are Destructive to Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve in Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES --(Business Wire)--
Grassroots Coalition (GC), an organization that has long worked to
protect the Ballona Wetlands and surrounding habitat along the Los
Angeles coast, has received a copy of the April 11, 2014 California
Coastal Commission (CCC) response and notification letter to Playa
Capital Company LLC and copied to the California Department of Fish and
Wildlife, regarding their continued violation of the Coastal Act by use
of an unpermitted water drainage system in the Ballona Wetlands. The
Unpermitted Drains were installed by Playa Capital LLC, the former
landowner. The new landowner, the California Department of Fish &
Wildlife (CDFW), has allowed the continued use of the Unpermitted Drains
Photo of Ballona Wetlands looking west down Ballona Creek to the Ballona Wetlands and Santa Monica Bay. (Photo: Business Wire)
Grassroots Coalition and other groups believe the $25 million bond
dollars, set aside exclusively for Ballona's studies and restoration, at
the time of the $140 million dollar purchase of the wetlands by the
State of California in 2004, has been spent without accountability and
tangible results required within the language of the public bond dollars.
Environmental studies, undertaken since CDFW take-over of Ballona, have
not included hydrology studies pertaining to Ballona's freshwater
aquifers or habitat and significantly, the studies excluded reference to
the ongoing drainage of its freshwaters.
The CCC letter addresses the deleterious effects upon Ballona's habitat,
"the Unpermitted Drains direct water away from habitat areas within the
Ballona Ecological Reserve, including a wetland area."
In 2013 the CCC first sent a letter to Playa Capital LLC and copied the
California Department of Fish & Wildlife contending Coastal Act
violations for lack of permitting of the drainage systems. See JULY
10, 2013, Los Angeles, CA Release: Illegal Water Drainage Devices
Discovered in Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve Coastal Act Violation
letter sent to Playa Capital LLC from California Coastal Commission.
After further investigation of Playa Capital LLC's claims of
authorization for the Unpermitted Drains, the responsive CCC letter
details their reasons for seeking sanctions at this time, .." the
Unpermitted Drains do not provide any necessary flood protection," the
letter states, referencing one of the rejected reasons that Playa
Capital LLC and others gave for the drainage devices.
The CCC letter's detailed response emphasized ongoing harm to Ballona's
ecosystem explaining, "the subject drains are located in the Ballona
Ecological Reserve within natural habitat and a wetland that relies on
water to function. Thus, the presence of the subject drains is clearly
detrimental to natural habitat and the hydraulic functioning of the
"Water is the main requirement for a functional wetland. …The
Unpermitted Drains disrupt water supply through direct fill and draining
of a wetland and habitat within the reserve.
"The Unpermitted Drain is designed to drain water from the soil in the
wetland around it, as well as ponding water that flows into the drain,
this deleterious effect would not be limited to just the immediate
vicinity where water pools, but would extend to any area hydrologically
connected to the Unpermitted Drain."
The April 11, 2014 CCC letter promotes the option of an agreement to
Consent Orders which would avoid costly and time consuming litigation.
Litigation, the CCC asserts that, …" could only highlight the violations
of the Coastal Act for which the parties are responsible."
The CCC letter provides an April 25, 2014 deadline for response from the
responsible parties to the CCC's offer. The CCC letter reasons that the
consent cease and desist and restoration orders would provide the
responsible parties more input into the process and timing of:
removal of the Unpermitted Drains;
mitigation of the damages caused by installation and functioning of
the Unpermitted Drains; and
potential negotiation of a penalty amount;
and noted that, "liability for Coastal Act violations attaches to the
property owner upon which unpermitted development is located and to the
party that undertook the unpermitted development."
For a copy of the California Coastal Commission letter dated April 11,
2014 please contact Jeanette Vosburg, Grassroots Coalition Outreach
Coordinator at Jeanette@culverevents.com
or go to GrassrootsCoalition.org
Patricia McPherson, president of Grassroots Coalition, notified the CCC
in 2013 upon discovery of the drains and has been providing further
investigative research pertaining to the drains and the parties involved.
"The July 11, 2013 email cited in the CCC letter," states McPherson,
"raises new issues of conflict of interest as it appears clear that the
very agencies charged with the protection and restoration of Ballona's
fragile freshwaters and seasonal wetland/upland ecosystems have been
clandestinely working instead to take away Ballona's freshwaters."
"In drought stricken California it is more important than ever to allow
rain water to seep into the earth and protect the ground water of
Ballona. It's a sad time for wildlife when purported lack of funding
seems to be driving CDFW's destructive oversight of Ballona in order to
receive money from private interests, including the Annenberg Foundation
who wants to put in a 46,000 sq ft dog and cat facility/ 'urban ecology'
center." Joe Young, Sierra Club - Chair, Airport/Marina Group
"Once again the State agencies trusted to protect these natural wetlands
are found colluding with corporate interest to the detriment of our
Ballona Wetlands to facilitate their bottom line." Paul Ferrazzi,
Director, Citizens Coalition For A Safe Community.
Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/multimedia/home/20140429007307/en/
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