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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Ballona Wetlands' Value

June 14, 2003

Re "Prices Threaten Ballona Plans," June 5: The corporate-welfare addicts at Playa Vista keep wanting to have it both ways. Either they are poor and need millions of dollars in public tax handouts, tax breaks, housing bonds and road bonds to build their mega-development. Or they are super-rich and their land is so valuable and desirable that if some is to be preserved as a state park, taxpayers should shell out hundreds of millions of dollars. The problem is that the 193 acres they offer to sell us can't be developed anyway, due to state laws banning development in wetlands.

Don't be panicked, and don't be bulldozed into letting Playa Vista rob the taxpayers. Demand that the state pay a fair price. The owners of Playa Vista bought the entire 1,000-acre project for a little over $100 million. They want us to believe the land is super-expensive, yet at the same time they tell the county tax collector that this 193 acres is really cheap, worth only $22 million. If they really believe it's that valuable, then it would seem that they owe a load of back taxes to the county. Will they again plead poverty?

Rex Frankel

President, Ballona Ecosystem Education Project, Los Angeles

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The West Bluff, the last natural upland bluff of the Ballona Wetlands, is in immediate danger of bulldozing by Catellus Development Corp. Those of us working to find funding for public acquisition of the West Bluff have been told that the state is interested but won't move on the bluff acquisition until the wetlands deal goes through. Biologists agree that wetlands without a significant uplands are less healthy. It would be tragic to lose this last undeveloped upland of the Ballona Wetlands while waiting for the wetlands deal to go through.

Leslie Purcell

Los Angeles

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I recently attended an urban planning workshop at UCLA with about 150 people from all over the L.A. region. No single constituency dominated the group. We were grouped into teams and assigned the task of making our own urban plan for housing, jobs, transportation, green space and industrial areas.

During the presentation of the plans we were all struck by the strategy used by all 15 teams: Identify all the existing and potential green spaces and mark them off-limits for any development first. The Ballona Wetlands were singled out in every plan as one such green space that should be kept off-limits.

Jan Williamson

Venice

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