All of you who drive on Admiralty Way in Marina del Rey are probably aware of this 10- acre site which is part of what little remains of the original Ballona wetlands. What you see now is a very degraded wetland, surrounded by chicken-wire fencing, with the water covered with algae. Nevertheless, the Oxford Basin functions as an indispensable habitat and nesting spot for 51 species of birds and, secondarily, as a flood control basin. Los Angeles County is now planning on “renovating” the basin by removing all diseased, non-native trees (650 of them) and non-native plants and replacing them with native, drought-tolerant plantings. In addition, the County plans to put in trails around the basin, public viewing spots and educational signage. The County estimates that cost of the project will be $13,500,000. The work was scheduled to begin a few days ago but has been delayed due to the rain.
While most agree that the basin needs to be upgraded, according to Marcia Hanscom of the Ballona Institute, several environmental groups including the Sierra Club, the Ballona Institute, the Grass Roots Coalition, the Los Angeles County Audubon Society the West Los Angeles Democratic Club, the Beach Cities Democratic Club and the Ballona Ecosystem Education are opposed to the idea of removing all the existing trees. Representatives from several of these groups will be meeting tomorrow with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. Native trees or not, the current population of birds in the Oxford Basin have adapted to the site as a nesting spot for decades. All birds are creatures of habit and any disturbance to their nesting site tends to produce negative results and a diminution in their number.
Marcia Hanscom is asking those who support a more moderate approach to the renovation in terms of tree removal to call the five members of the Board of Supervisors and request that one of them be present at the meeting. You can also express your opinion on this subject by using the following contact information:
* Sheila Kuehl: 213-974-3333 (ask to speak to Maria Chong-Castillo even if they say this is not her district – her constituents live in nearby Venice)
* Mike Antonovich 213-974-5555