Stealth Flood Control Project

By John Davis

On September 26, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers announced a major flood control project to protect the Playa Vista development. Internal documents estimate the cost at $100-200 million to the taxpayers.

The agencies working in concert are the California Coastal Conservancy, the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, the Department of Fish and Game, and the Army Corp of Engineers Los Angeles District.

All are engaging in a stealth marketing campaign to spin the real nature of the project. They call it a “wetlands restoration,” but it is anything but that. Major wetlands and watercourses will be dredged, then filled. Valuable wildlife will be killed and scattered. State groundwater resources will be negatively impacted.

Proposition 12 and 50 funds, approved by the public, were supposed to be spent in part for environmental restoration and acquisition of wetlands. Part of that public money has been misused by the California Coastal Conservancy to propel only one project agency documents call the, “preferred alternative.” The public had no formal voice in this plan. Preferred by who, is the question begged.

The project would serve the interests of the private Playa Vista development. It was constructed in a well-known floodplain flooded by storm waters in 1938.

The plan is to dredge a big basin for polluted water, then pile the wetlands material into 20-40 foot dirt levees on Lincoln, Jefferson, and elsewhere near the Marina and Playa del Rey. The mounds of dirt will stand taller than most houses, and never move. This will ruin the great views of wetlands that drivers see everyday.

The developers knew the project would flood again, sooner or later. So did the City planners. But, it was built anyway. With an eye to short term profits, the developers only hoped the project would not flood until after they took the money and ran.

Now the people are being asked to bail the developers out of their bad real estate gamble by footing the bill to protect a private corporation from floodwaters that are sure to come again.

It’s the destruction of Malibu Lagoon all over again, only on a monumental scale.

When you hear the project shopped as a “wetlands restoration,” don’t take the bait. It is a flood control plan to protect Playa Vista, a private development at public expense.

There is still hope to preserve the wetlands. You can support your local environmental groups including the Grassroots Coalition, the Ballona Ecological Education Project, and the Ballona Wetlands Land Trust, all of which share concerns about this proposal.

The Sierra Club, the oldest grassroots environmental group in the world, opposed the project at the Airport Marina Regional Group. John Muir founded the club long ago and its accomplishments have been instrumental in the preservation of California’s natural heritage

Categories: Beach, Environment