By John Davis
It is no surprise to environmental advocates that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying to cheat environmental laws to build a 46,000 square foot building that would include an auditorium, parking lot, and retail (business) on the sensitive Ballona Wetlands Ecological Preserve.
Charles Bonham, the Executive Director of the Agency began an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the site in 2012 and held a public scoping meeting in mid 2012.
Now Chuck wants to start another EIR under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), at the same place. However, CEQA makes no provisions for two EIRs to occur at the same place and time. EIRs can be amended or superseded only after they are finished. A subsequent, supplemental, or tiered EIR can add to or change an existing completed process.
Here, Chuck wants two at the same time, which is clearly illegal. The press release was issued on January 28th and the contact was Jordan Traverso. I asked her several questions about the process regarding public outreach for the project and how the current EIR process would be considered in the new proposal.
On January 29 she stated the following: “Yes, of course it will go through CEQA. A new NOP should be issued this week.” Traverso is indicating that another Notice of Preparation (NOP) was being completed by the Agency for the new development. This CEQA would rest on top the EIR that is currently being undertaken.
The State is using your tax dollars to foist an illegal development on lands saved by the people and purchased by the State of California to preserve the sensitive habitat that contains endangered species and other important wildlife.
No consideration has been given to locating the proposed facilities off site. Chuck wants to build it right on the ecological preserve. He has been induced by money offered by the Annenberg Foundation. The Agency has gone so far as to enter a Memorandum of Understanding with other Agencies that are also promoting changing a portion of the ecological reserve into an auditorium, restaurant, and parking lot. The other signing Agencies include the State Coastal Conservancy and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission.
While the proposal would have great merit if it were legal and located anyplace except in the preserve, it currently has none. There is no indication as to which retail business would be approved. Perhaps it will consist of either another Home Depot or a fast food joint ran by a clown named Ronald, or both. In keeping with the nature of the illegal proposal, be prepared for heron burgers and fried eagle.