Millions of birds fly along a 7,500-mile migratory route between northern Alaska and the southern tip of South America. Wetlands, including the freshwater Ballona Ecological Reserve in Playa Vista, provide vital resting points.
Ballona is in an unique location between salt and freshwater, and these kinds of wetlands shelter more than one-third of the country’s threatened and endangered species, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Unfortunately, the homeless encampments and the people living in RVs parked illegally along Jefferson Boulevard, bordering the Wetlands, have for more than a year dumped garbage, human waste and other trash onto this environmentally sensitive area.
In early October, Councilman Mike Bonin passed a resolution through City Council to spend more than $63,000 to remove six-tons of trash from the area along Jefferson.
On October 27, the City Council passed Bonin’s latest motion for a feasibility study to vacate the unimproved/unpaved portions of the public right-of-way and to perform a land survey and title search for properties (APN 4211-14901, 4211-14904 and 4211-14905).
His motion states: “Management of the ecological resources in the Ballona Wetlands is currently impeded by misplaced jurisdictional lines. The City of Los Angeles lacks legal protections for habitat that lies within a public right-of-way that runs through and is immediately adjacent to State-protected land. Areas with habitat value currently lack adequate resource protection due to lack of jurisdiction by the adjacent State and nonprofit land managers.”
In the meantime, the land continues to be fouled by humans. One person emailed Circling the News last week that “Ballona is a mess again. Tents and stuff all over the place.”
With the passage of City Council resolution 41.18 last month Bonin could have asked for posting of the site, giving notice of a date that personal property on a public right of way would no longer be acceptable and taken it to the full Council. The ordinance allows for enforcement.
The Pacific Palisades Community Council sent a letter to Bonin’s office on September 12 and again on October 25, asking him to designate sites and post signs in Pacific Palisades in “sensitive areas” by schools and libraries per City Council resolution 41.18.
The letter points out that “Twelve of your council colleagues also disagree and voted in favor of the resolutions. Additional resolutions to designate sites in numerous city districts have been brought by other council members and are awaiting votes in council. We assume these resolutions will again be approved over your ‘no’ vote.”
At the PPCC meeting on October 28, Bonin’s field representative Noah Fleishman was asked if Bonin was going to respond to the PPCC letter.
Fleishman replied, “He’s not ruling it out, but seeing how it works in other areas of the City.”
Back in August 2017, the City Council passed a motion by Bonin stating, “There is an increasing problem with oversized vehicles [such as RV’s] that are parked overnight on a segment of Jefferson Boulevard immediately adjacent to the Ballona Wetlands Freshwater marsh.” The motion asked the Department of Transportation to post signs giving notice of a “Tow away, no parking” restriction from 2 to 6 a.m.
During the Covid pandemic, parking restrictions throughout Los Angeles were not enforced, but the City resumed enforcement at overnight/oversize parking districts and for posted time limit zones in residential and commercial areas on October 15, 2020.
There are two immediate legitimate ways to deal with the RVs and the homeless encampments that are damaging the Ballona Wetlands: Enforce posted parking and go to the City Council via resolution 41.18.
CTN emailed Bonin spokesperson David Graham-Caso and asked why Bonin did not select one of those options, rather than asking for a feasibility study. If CTN receives a response, we’ll update this story.