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[LAR] Reaction to Galanter Announcement: "Yes" to Wetlands, "No" to Playa Vista

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  • Marcia Hanscom
    Wetlands Action Network protecting & restoring wetlands along the Pacific Migratory Pathway NEWS for immediate release contact: Marcia Hanscom (310)
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 5, 1999
      Wetlands Action Network
      protecting & restoring wetlands along the Pacific Migratory Pathway
      NEWS

      for immediate release contact: Marcia Hanscom
      (310) 457-0300

      Wetlands Action Network Applauds Galanter's
      Bailing on Settlement Agreement;
      Environmentalists Still Seek Playa Vista Sinking

      AUGUST 5, 1999, Los Angeles, CA...Wetlands Action Network has completed
      a careful analysis of Los Angeles City Councilmember Ruth Galanter's
      announcement earlier this week that she has bailed on the settlement
      agreement she and Friends of Ballona Wetlands President Ruth Lansford
      finalized with developers and state authorities in 1994 allowing
      construction of a massive development to proceed in a sensitive coastal
      wetlands ecosystem near Los Angeles International Airport. This
      settlement agreement has been the subject of criticism by 92 groups in a
      coalition that has for four years put heat on DreamWorks SKG, who
      abandoned plans to build a movie studio at Ballona last month, and
      remaining Wall Street-backed Playa Capital.

      Galanter's announcement states that she is now seeking "public
      acquisition of property owned by Playa Vista west of Lincoln Boulevard
      that has not yet been set aside for restoration." She also states "it
      is time to broaden...commitment to include all the area with restorable
      wetlands," yet her news release states she is only seeking to preserve
      wetlands west of Lincoln Blvd. Galanter noticeably does not address the
      scientifically-recognized need for adjacent uplands in order for most
      wetlands species to survive.

      The 1,000+ acre Ballona Wetlands ecosystem remnant hosts functioning
      jurisdictional wetlands throughout the property, and
      nationally-recognized wetlands scientists who visited the site under
      court order last year concluded that there are many dozens of more
      restorable acres of wetlands, including numerous wetlands that are east
      of Lincoln Blvd. Indeed, there are functioning tidally-influenced
      wetlands east of Lincoln Blvd.

      "Councilmember Galanter is definitely moving in the right direction in
      asking federal and state officials to help seek funding for acquisition
      and restoration of the Ballona Wetlands, but NOT if the deal includes
      acceptance of the Playa Vista development and its devastating impacts on
      more than half of the remaining land," stated Marcia Hanscom, executive
      director of Wetlands Action Network, whose group enjoyed a significant
      federal court victory last year that has seriously hampered the
      developers' ability to proceed as originally planned.

      "As long as Ruth Galanter has now realized that there are more wetlands
      needing to be preserved than she has claimed these last four years, we
      hope she awakens further to the additional wetlands that need to be
      protected," Hanscom emphasized.

      "We also are heartened that Ms. Galanter and, evidently Friends of
      Ballona Wetlands, have both come to realize the inadequacy of their
      settlement agreement. However," she added, "we are not interested in
      another compromise on Ballona. The Ballona Estuary was substantially
      compromised when Marina del Rey was built; it can withstand no further
      concessions."

      Additional insights related to Galanter's announcement, according to
      Hanscom, include:

      1. Developers Playa Capital, while proclaiming being "somewhat
      surprised" by Councilmember Galanter’s announcement, stated in their
      internal business plan last year that "We will need to consider reduced
      buildout of Area B, with more open space, or perhaps foregoing any
      development of this parcel altogether. In preparation for this
      decision, within the first few months of 1998 we will analyze the land
      use and financial consequences of various development portions for Area
      B, and begin engaging local politicians in this discussion. We will
      also generate tactics for having any undeveloped space designated for
      recreational purposes, as opposed to additional wetlands." Could it be
      that Ruth Galanter and Playa Capital are actually working in lock-step
      and are attempting to shift the terms of the debate that
      environmentalists have laid out about the terrible impacts of the
      development, and simply argue about how much land west of Lincoln should
      we save, should it be wetlands, etc.?

      2. In this same report that was leaked by Playa Capital insiders to
      unsuccessful, yet courageous, Council candidate Rex Frankel who ran for
      Galanter's seat this last year, it is stated, "The entitlements received
      for Phase I were greater than expected, and therefore the need for an
      intense level of development in Phase II in order to reach financial
      objectives is diminished." The report goes on to suggest that the
      developers, long ago, had begun thinking of giving up the land west of
      Lincoln Blvd. that Galanter now champions, in what would be a new
      compromise proposal.

      3. The Bolsa Chica Land Trust's 4th District State Appeals Court
      decision earlier this year makes it clear that Playa Capital’s plans to
      construct houses and commercial facilities in wetlands in the Coastal
      Zone west of Lincoln Blvd. will not be allowable under the law. This
      decision, combined with new wetlands delineations required due to
      formerly farmed acres now reverting to former wetland states, and one of
      the most environmentally-friendly Coastal Commissions, makes it evident
      that Playa Capital might have not been able to receive permits to
      proceed with their plans in this area.
      # # #
      29170 Heathercliff Rd., Suite 1 • Malibu, CA 90265
      (310) 457-0300 • fax: (310) 457-0302
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