* We were surprised to read state Sen. Tom Hayden's assertion in "Sacrificing the Bay for Little Gain" (Commentary, Dec. 13) that there is dissension among environmental groups over the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Project's action plan. While different environmental groups may have different strategies, we stand united in the pursuit of our ultimate goal: a cleaner and healthier Santa Monica Bay.
Certainly the plan alone will not clean up our ocean. Under the National Estuary Program, the process required consensus among dischargers, regulators, agencies and environmentalists in the development of a plan to restore our bay.
Yes, we want to strengthen the plan and to make sure that all its voluntary measures are implemented. But we also acknowledge the plan's achievements.
But we must do more. We must strengthen the permits issued to dischargers into the bay, including the upcoming municipal storm-water permit. We must strengthen enforcement by the regional board, which has totally neglected this key responsibility. We must continue to bring citizen actions to enforce the law.
MARK GOLD, Executive Director
Heal the Bay
GAIL RUDERMAN FEUER
Natural Resources Defense Council
LISA WEIL, Policy Director
American Oceans Campaign
The Santa Monica BayKeeper
The restoration plan is an ambitious blueprint to guide the cleanup of Santa Monica Bay. Jointly funded by the State of California and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the plan was drafted over the last five years by the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Project--a coalition of environmentalists, scientists, government, business and the public committed to restoring and protecting Santa Monica Bay. The plan takes on some of the most critical problems now facing the bay, including storm water and urban runoff pollution and public-health risks associated with swimming near storm drain outlets and eating bay seafood.
Some, such as state Sen. Tom Hayden, would argue that inviting polluters to the table is wrong. But experience has taught us that including all players in the decision-making process makes everyone part of the solution. No one party had "veto power," as Hayden claims. Rather, the goal was to educate and to build consensus. Over and above meeting very specific federal Clean Water Act requirements regarding project membership, the project members believe that involving all stakeholders in a cooperative effort is the most effective way to restore and protect the bay.
The bay restoration plan is exceedingly good public policy for the 1990s. It is not the program of any one group. It was endorsed by city councils throughout the Santa Monica Bay area, and most recently received broad bipartisan support from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
As chairman of the state Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Hayden (who is a member of the project and whose staff assisted in developing the plan) is in a position to help fund and implement this landmark cleanup effort.
CATHERINE TYRRELL, Director
Santa Monica Bay Restoration Project
Hayden criticizes the restoration plan principally on the basis of administrative considerations as inadequate and unenforceable. There is also a technical basis for criticism of this plan.
The plan is nominally based upon a purported technical report, "The Status of the Bay, 1993." This report is laden with errors, inflated with redundancies and flawed by omissions. It cannot stand as a reliable foundation for a restoration plan. Restoration suggests that something is to be restored to some level of abundance. There is no determination of what is missing from the Santa Monica Bay even though many species once found here are now absent. There is no mention of those species of marine organisms, e.g., abalone, which are now so reduced in local abundance that they can no longer sustain themselves as local populations.
There is no plan for the restoration of the fisheries potential of the Ballona Wetlands, contrary to reports in this paper nor any discussion of the vital importance of restoration of this habitat as a part of the Pacific Flyway along which millions of birds fly on an annual basis.
State and federal laws require the "maintenance, enhancement and restoration of coastal resources" to ensure the sustainability of the ecosystem of the Santa Monica Bay.
The proposed plan is a document in political science, not a technical document appropriate to deal with the problems of the Santa Monica Bay.
RIMMON C. FAY
\o7 Fay is a marine biologist and was a member of the California Coastal Commission from 1973 to 1979.\f7