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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Playa Vista Development

October 25, 2003

I just finished reading "L.A.'s Urban Model" (Oct. 18), describing the Playa Vista high-density housing project under construction. There is only one brief mention of "area residents worried about traffic gridlock." Ironically, it mentions a radio ad for the development in which a husband is "stuck in a traffic jam on the 405 Freeway." I live in Playa del Rey and commute to work in Santa Monica, a distance of six miles. It takes me 25 minutes to get to work in the morning using surface streets and 30 minutes or longer to get home at night. The 405 Freeway is so congested that it saves me no time at all. Just getting through the Washington and Venice intersections on Lincoln Boulevard can take 10 minutes or more. As far as I can tell, no one is addressing the traffic problem. Obviously, 13,000 eventual residents will create major gridlock on the surrounding surface streets, and the 405 Freeway will truly become just another Playa Vista parking lot.

Jackie Fox

Playa del Rey

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The Playa Vista developers have made all the right decisions; they've created an environmentally friendly, dense development that fosters a sense of community. But to call the development "urban" is a little bit premature. It's more like a self-enclosed office park on the edge of the city than urban infill. Is it possible to walk to anything from these homes? True, there are a lot of amenities on site, but it just doesn't feel connected to the other coastal communities.

Brian Locicero

Los Angeles

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Your article did not discuss very real health and safety issues associated with building over and adjacent to huge quantities of both methane and toxic oil-field gases that are migrating to the surface. Why wasn't a connection drawn between this "puff piece" and your Jan. 6 article that said that "residents will be test subjects" for new citywide rules on "gassy sites"?

Jeanette Vosburg

Los Angeles

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The Playa Vista developers have so changed the ecology of the wetlands that it no longer supports the wildlife that once found refuge there. I have observed this change over the last 10 years. During this period I have been leading kayakers on Ballona Creek each month to watch birds. On a typical two-hour outing for a fall Sunday morning we used to see over 40 species of migratory birds. Earlier this month we saw 25. Gone, for example, are the larger hawks, the variety of wild ducks and terns, as well as species of shore birds. Even for species still present, the numbers are down.

The bird population depended on the marshland irrigated by tidal flows in their foraging areas east of Lincoln Boulevard. Development has disrupted the areas so that the plants, insects and animals on which birds feed are present in reduced numbers or no longer there. Consequently the area no longer sustains the former wildlife population. Playa Vista has so changed the land contours that the life-giving tidal flows that regularly nourished the entire wildlife habitat area are now confined to a much smaller zone. We need to restore the remaining acreage to support wildlife.

Robert M . Gurfield

Santa Monica

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The article on Playa Vista was interesting, but I was surprised that there was no mention of using environmentally friendly materials, using siting and architectural techniques to achieve maximum energy efficiency in the buildings, using native plants to encourage water conservation and provide habitat and use of permaculture or community gardens. There are many wonderful ideas for developing sustainable and nurturing communities, and I sincerely hope that all who have come to learn from this development will think about using truly innovative techniques that respect the environment.

Lorraine Priceman

Woodland Hills

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