Letter Hidalgo



Save Playa Vista

The Los Angeles Business Journal’s March 16 editorial, “Ballona Misspeak,” correctly pointed out that multimillion dollar subsidies to developers and billionaire movie moguls for the Playa Vista development is not a wise use of our hard-earned tax dollars. However, the broader impacts of the proposed project were overlooked.

The health of the Southern California economy is vital to us all. A key element is the quality of life created by our environment. It attracts and sustains tourism, one of our top industries. A positive environment also attracts and retains employees and leaders of other industries. The Playa Vista project will negatively impact the region by creating massive congestion, gridlock, smog, and fiscal liabilities or taxpayers.

Playa Vista would be the largest development in the history of Los Angeles, nearly twice the size of Century City. The Playa Vista master plan calls for 29,000 permanent residents and 20,000 commuters. This would constitute a city of nearly 50,000 people commuting every day. Anyone who travels through the this region knows that the congestion is already unbearable.

According to the developer’s own studies, Playa Vista would create more than 200,000 additional car trips per day. Traffic on Lincoln Boulevard, a main artery for Los Angeles International Airport, would nearly double as a result of Playa Vista. Traffic on the nearby 405 Freeway would increase by an unbelievable 28 per cent. This would have a significant impact on traffic patterns in the entire L.A. basin.

If built, Playa Vista would create ten tons of additional air pollution every day. That would make it the 4th largest air polluter in Los Angeles, LAX, being the largest. In the last few years some progress has been made in Los Angeles’ air quality. Playa Vista would be a step backwards.

Playa Vista would contribute to the continued decline in the water quality of Santa Monica Bay by decreasing what few water-cleansing wetlands remain there. A healthy ocean and clean beaches are crucial to tourism.

In California, we have lost 91 percent of our coastal wetlands. Sport and commercial fishing have seen a decline as a result. Ballona is the last remaining major wetland in Los Angeles County and could be instrumental in revitalizing these industries.

The Business Journal states the a vast majority of the land has not been wetlands since the beginning of the century, and cites governmental definitions of wetlands to support this. But every business person knows that government statistics shift like lilies in the wind. A 1978 UCLA study states that there are 515 acres of either functioning or easily restorable wetlands remaining at Ballona, more than two-and-a-half times the government figure.

Taxpayers are at risk with Playa Vista, and not just because of corporate welfare. The entire Ballona Valley is a flood plain, and thus a liquefaction zone. Recent earthquakes have shown that structures built on marshes and wetlands suffer the worst in these disasters. The fact that Playa Vista has not been built is not solely due to the work of environmentalists. It is also the work of the marketplace. Conceived in the boom years of the 1980s, the project’s bottom line ends in red, not black. The enormous costs of reclaiming a floodplain and creating a new infrastructure are not overcome by the current upswing in real estate.

Playa Vista is not a good deal nor is it a done deal. At this time, only one-third of the project has been approved. With mounting citizen opposition and local politicians starting to backtrack on the project, investors will never see the promised returns.

A coalition to save all of the Ballona Wetlands has grown to more than 80 groups, including Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Surfrider Foundation, Rainforest Action Network, and CalPIRG (California Public Interest Research Group). The Business Journal referred to the opposition to Playa Vista as “a small group of so-called environmentalists.” If the Sierra Club (500,000 members) and CalPIRG (60,000 members) fit this definition, then who are the “real” environmentalists and how many members do they have?

According to national standards, Los Angeles has the most crucial need for open space of any city in the United States. Can we afford to pave over the better part of such a precious resource?



Ballona Valley Preservation League

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