"Make Playa Vista a Park" (Opinion, June 17) made me smile at what Los Angeles could be, a livable city with a state park for all to enjoy. I attended the June 19 L.A. City Council meeting intent on sharing my thoughts. While there I spoke with a group of people who are pro-development because they want jobs. I respect their position, but I disagree with developing the Ballona Wetlands. I envision an L.A. with affordable housing, good jobs and open spaces. These goals are not in conflict.
Instead of giving Playa Capital Co. $168.6 million in taxpayer subsidies to destroy our wetlands, let's take those subsidies and redevelop our inner cities, building affordable housing (and not the $400,000 average price per Playa Vista dwelling). Let's restore all 1,087 acres of wetlands, creating additional jobs. We get more affordable housing, more jobs and a state park. These are the things I planned to say. Unfortunately, the City Council cut off public comments and I didn't get to share my vision.
J. William Gibson's Opinion piece gives the impression that all of Playa Vista is wetlands, that only a paltry 190 acres are to be saved and that the rest of the wetlands will be built on.
There are only 190 acres of wetlands at Ballona. Despite that fact, Friends of Ballona Wetlands has secured for preservation and restoration a total of 340 acres out of the 1,087-acre site. From Gibson's article, one would also never know that the developer has committed $13.5 million for that restoration. Right now, the freshwater marsh just west of Lincoln Boulevard is being restored at Playa Vista's additional expense.
Our group agrees that even more restored acreage at Ballona would be ideal, and we are working toward that goal. There is a problem, though. Some factions, apparently supported by Gibson, are irrevocably committed to leaving the entire 1,087 acres undeveloped. That isn't going to happen. Phase 1 of Playa Vista is well underway east of Lincoln Boulevard (the site of the old Hughes Aircraft factory). Lawsuits against that development have failed.
Playa Vista has expressed a willingness to listen to proposals that would save everything west of Lincoln Boulevard from development and add that acreage to the restoration. But it can't happen without dollars, lots of dollars. Much of that money would have to come from government sources. No politician is going to act unless there is consensus. No consensus is possible with those who demand every last inch of Playa Vista.
President, Friends of Ballona
Wetlands, Playa del Rey