Hannah Heineman, Mirror Staff Writer
Earlier this month, the Mirror had the opportunity to tour part of the Ballona Wetlands with the Ballona Ecosystem Education Project (BEEP) and the Ballona Network.
One of the goals of BEEP “is to save the last remaining natural open space in West Los Angeles from ravenous developers.” Part of that effort includes litigating against the City of Los Angeles’ approval of Playa Vista Phase II.
Tour participants got a chance to view the development of Playa Vista Phase I. The President of BEEP, Rex Frankel, pointed out that as part of the development “many of the native plants” are included in the landscaping surrounding both the commercial and residential projects.
The tour also focused on the vision stated in the Ballona Greenway News of “connecting the mountains to the sea” with the Ballona Greenway. They want the greenway to span from the Pacific Ocean to the Ballona Wetlands, to Ballona Creek, to Baldwin Hills, to the Los Angeles River and finally to the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountain Parks.
Jeanette Vosburg, coordinator of the Ballona Network, noted, “Los Angeles grew up after the industrial revolution so water was put into concrete channels.” This has resulted in our “green disappearing, our open space being sliced into a million streets and our rain water and urban runoff being collected in storm drains” and then thrust into the sea. Biodiversity has suffered as well, due to the massive destruction of local habitat.
Vosburg also mentioned Mayor Villaraigosa sent her a letter pledging his assistance “to make Los Angeles the greenest big city in the United States” by supporting the revitalization of the Los Angeles River and the creation of the Ballona Creek Parkway. This parkway will “provide open space, active and passive recreational opportunities, habitat areas for wildlife and natural treatment of storm water runoff.”
The tour also included a stop at the Augustus F. Hawkins Nature Park located in South Central at 5790 Compton Avenue. The park, once an industrial area that had held piping for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, opened in 2000 after being restored by the State of California. The City of Los Angeles took it over in March of 2005 and added a wetlands area. This site was shown to demonstrate how an urban area could be redeveloped into usable open space. The tour also visited the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in Baldwin Hills, which also had been redeveloped for park use.
More information can be obtained from the following websites: the Ballona Wetlands Land Trust, www.ballona.org, the Ballona Network, www.ballonanetwork.org and the Ballona Ecosystem Education Project, www.saveallofballona.org.