State Parks Cheat Environment at Malibu

By John Davis

Malibu Lagoon State Park, a haven for surfers and wildlife, was bulldozed this summer. Wildlife was laid to waste and surfing opportunities have been adversely impacted. All of this could have been prevented when the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was released, but Staff of State Parks cheated and violated State law so the public would be silenced. There were no hearings on the Draft or Final EIR, as required by the California Environmental Protection Act.

The former Director of the Department of Recreation and Parks failed to call a meeting of the State Parks Commission, and thusly froze the public out of the comment process. This is like Coastal Commission Staff approving a skyscraper on the beach without ever telling the public Commission, and leaving the public without a voice. The State Parks Commission did not approve the current EIR, as required by State Law, and the final EIR for the project is a fraud.

In July, the Beachhead (http://bit.ly/PvEWu6) reported that former State Parks Director Ruth Coleman was letting both L.A. City and County steal revenues from Dockweiler State Park. Neither has any legal jurisdiction over the State property.

Since then, Coleman resigned as a result of yet another scandal exposed by the Sacramento Bee where the Directors’ staff was responsible for hiding $54 million from the Governor and State Legislature. What remains to be seen is if the State will do anything to fix these legal problems. The answer is probably no, because elected officials like it this way.

Coleman resigned and was then replaced by California Under-Secretary of Natural Resources Janelle Beland, who is now Acting Executive Director of State Parks. But Beland is cut from the same cloth as Coleman. With full knowledge and intent, Beland is letting the City and County continue to extort millions of dollars from Dockweiller State Park and to arrest people for attempting to use the park after midnight in Venice.

“We have uncovered that there’s a whole culture of deception and entitlement in the state parks department, far greater than we anticipated,” said assembly person Beth Gaines (Republican-Rocklin) in a press conference.

The California Joint Legislative Audit Committee unanimously approved the audit requested by Gaines.

But, as it turns out, the institutional fraud runs even deeper. Former Director Coleman and State Parks staff biologist Suzanne Goode have pulled another fast one at Malibu Lagoon State Park.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is very protective of the environment. When an EIR is underway, CEQA requires public hearings at every turn. This gives people the chance to speak their mind and to provide valuable information regarding proposed projects.

The California State Parks Commission is the public legislative body tasked by law to hold such public hearings, if the Agency proposes any changes to the State Parks General Plan, which includes EIRs.

Only after the State Parks Commission approves the Final EIR can the project begin.  Parks Staff is required to file a mandatory Notice of Determination (NOD) with the State, which includes findings made by the Parks Commission and a record of all public hearings.

However, Goode simply made an end run around the law and filed the NOD without the Commission holding any public hearing at all. This was done in 2006, under the leadership of the now disgraced Coleman.

No wonder Malibu residents were surprised in 2010 when the Agency announced the lagoon would be bulldozed and dredged starting this year.

Was this nefarious deed an accident? Many residents feel that it was not.

Since 2006, many other similar decisions were made behind closed doors.

Contractors were hired to bulldoze and dredge the once beautiful coastal lagoon into a morass of lifeless mud. The once beautiful surfing park is now being turned into a perpetual dredging project. When the project is filled with sediment again, a natural process, it will be dredged again, and again. This will require the State to hire dredging contractors in the future.

The same group from the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission (SMBRC), a State Agency, and the parasitic private business that sucks from SMBRC, the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation, appear to be behind this scheme. They are planning to attack the Ballona Wetlands next.

The theory is to allow upstream polluters to continue dumping toxic substances  into public waters. Their waste can then be dredged up, at public cost, on a regular basis. The polluters should be stopped at the source, and the public should not pay for their crimes, as they do now.

In her role as a State employee, Goode went so far as to demonize and label people who disagree with this process as opponents. She will soon learn that Democracy is the true opponent of crime and that stakeholders pay her wage.

Without due process of law, democracy is meaningless.

Shelley Luce, who has been impersonating the Executive Director of the SMBRC for years, with no statutory authority, is also the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the private business which appears to be behind this whole mess. It is a non-profit business that has illegally operated out of the State of California Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board Office since about 1994. Once discovered, they moved their business to Loyola University to hide.

The Beachhead (http://bit.ly/NFeqNs) previously reported on the group of California Government Officials behind the scheme at Malibu. They have now reached Ballona, and are preparing to unleash pollution belching bulldozers into a fragile ecosystem struggling to survive.

Categories: Environment

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