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PLAYA VISTA : Wetlands Groups in Legal Dispute

August 06, 1995|KELLY DAVID

A well-established environmental group, Friends of Ballona Wetlands, has filed suit against a newer organization, Citizens Against Playa Vista, accusing the newer group of adopting its motto as a name.

Citizens Against Playa Vista changed its name in 1993 to Save Ballona Wetlands, a slogan the Friends group says it has used since 1980.

"By misappropriating our motto and using it as their name, they have caused a lot of public confusion that has hurt our reputation," says Andrew R. Henderson, attorney for the Friends group.

Both groups are seeking to preserve Ballona Wetlands, but they are at odds over how much of the original 2,100 acres of wetlands still exists and can be restored.

Playa Vista is a parcel of nearly 1,000 acres located south of Marina del Rey that is scheduled to be transformed into a community of 29,000 residents and about 20,000 workers. Friends of Ballona Wetlands filed suit against the landowner and several government agencies 11 years ago to prevent destruction of the wetlands. The group settled out of court in 1990 after a new owner agreed to spend more than $10 million to save 285 acres, about 249 of which are made up of wetlands and a supporting creek. The Friends of Ballona Wetlands say that acreage is all that remains to be saved.

But the Save Ballona Wetlands group says it believes 517 acres of the wetlands within the proposed Playa Vista boundaries still exist and could be restored.

Rex Frankel, president of Save Ballona Wetlands, says he did not know that the Friends group was using Save Ballona Wetlands as its motto.

" 'Save Ballona Wetlands' is the most appropriate name for our organization. That's why we choose it," he said.

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