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Solar power and the desert environment; the checkered history of Chavez Ravine; LAPD Chief Charlie Beck responds to an L.A. Times editorial

April 10, 2012
  • Ileene Anderson, left, of the Center for Biological Diversity and April Sall of the Wildlands Conservancy, standing in the Mojave Desert near Death Valley, are worried about solar projects’ effect on local ecosystems.
Ileene Anderson, left, of the Center for Biological Diversity and April… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

The price of power

Re "Activists feeling burned," April 6

Southern California has many large, empty rooftops that could easily support a sea of solar panels. Exploitation of this vast resource, which is already connected to the grid, should be a top regional priority.

Unfortunately, the decision-makers at our utilities prefer to stick with an outmoded business model that relies on corporate point-source energy production, in which solar power plants are substituted for coal-fired ones.

Why is the diffuse production of solar power on urban rooftops in sunny Southern California so difficult for utilities to contemplate? Their nonsensical thinking does not justify habitat destruction in our deserts.

Paula Schiffman

Los Angeles

Your article mischaracterizes the role groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council play in solar energy development on public lands. This is certainly not a black-and-white issue, but we're doing due diligence to ensure that solar projects are sited in a responsible manner that conserves the desert.

Just last month, the NRDC filed suit to block one poorly sited solar project, but it supports a set of projects in Imperial County. The latter projects are located on private, already disturbed agricultural land with relatively few impacts to wildlife, water and air quality, and they are close to transmission infrastructure.

When it comes to climate change, inaction is not an option and helping find the right choices is a responsibility. The choices are not easy, but we believe that by coming to the table, we can strike the right balance to protect our lands and address climate change.

Carl Zichella

San Francisco

The writer is director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Western Transmission Program.

Chavez Ravine, then and now

Re "Told to sacrifice," April 5

The article states: "The removal of more than 1,000 mostly Mexican American families to make way for [Dodger Stadium] is a dark note in L.A.'s history." It was a dark note, but the Dodgers didn't make it.

After World War II, housing was a high priority. But private developers and some politicians attacked the Federal Housing Authority as being socialist.

The housing authority had acquired and cleared the land after promising the displaced residents that they would be able to return to Chavez Ravine once the housing project was complete. It never was, but not because of the Dodgers.

Affordable housing remains critical. Perhaps planners today should consider the space near Staples Center, now being considered for a football stadium, for affordable housing. It would be a boon for working people downtown.

Donna Wilkinson

Los Angeles

Roz Wyman, the former city councilwoman who worked to lure the Dodgers to L.A. from Brooklyn in the 1950s, says she has no regrets.

Of course she has no regrets. The displacement of all those people from Chavez Ravine did not interfere with her elegant lifestyle. Her comment that it was the first time the city pulled together to accomplish something is insensitive to those who were displaced from their homes.

In this day and age, individuals such as Wyman would never get elected to represent any part of Los Angeles. Thank God, at least in L.A. and most of California, that officials who think like her are slowly disappearing from the political landscape.

Homer Alba

Glendale

LAPD chief on settlement

Re "$4.5 million to a gangster?," Editorial, April 6

The Times agrees with a civil jury's decision that two Los Angeles police officers wrongly shot a fleeing gang member, and it endorsed the L.A. city attorney's decision to pay the man $4.5 million to settle his claim. The Times praises both the verdict and the settlement as deterrents to police misconduct.

Unfortunately, this was a case in which the trial judge exercised his discretion to deny the jurors key facts about the plaintiff, his conduct and his subsequent statements while in custody. For that reason alone, the Los Angeles Police Department believes the city attorney owes our officers and the taxpayers an appeal of this wrongful verdict, rather than capitulation in the form of an excessive and unnecessary settlement. The Times, however, had ready access to all the facts, which makes its conclusions all the more perplexing.

Nowhere in the editorial, for example, did The Times mention that our department, which now conducts the nation's most thorough investigations of officer-involved shootings, found that the two officers behaved correctly — a conclusion subsequently supported by both the department's inspector general and the city's civilian Police Commission.

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