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Delineation light

Please correct the record with your readers. Malibu citizens may have been left with an incorrect impression of recent events surrounding the Civic Center open space and Egret Pond area, as a result of stories that ran in both local Malibu newspapers.

While Malibu Bay Co., developers of the proposed Civic Center construction project, and their supporters recently pulled out the stops in attempts to discredit and marginalize the efforts of Wetlands Action Network, we are nonetheless quite pleased with the ultimate decision by the Malibu City Council to hire Huffman & Associates to conduct a wetlands delineation. Dr. Terry Huffman’s nationally recognized credentials will serve the city well as he recommends determination for regulatory jurisdiction by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the California Coastal Commission.

We, along, with Surfrider Foundation, had secured the services of Huffman & Associates only after repeated failed pleadings with the city in early ’98 that the city should conduct a delineation in order to comply with several state and federal laws. We’re happy to now let the city take the lead in this important process.

Yes, there were attempts to paint Wetlands Action Network as “controversial” by development supporters – including distribution of a 56-page “report” by Barbara Cameron that included mostly skewed information and one-sided news clippings supplied by developers at Playa Vista, where DreamWorks SKG has joined Wall Street heavies Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs in proposing to build the largest development in the history of Los Angeles in the remnant Ballona floodplain. Wetlands Action Network supports a scientifically-sound wetlands restoration at Ballona, not one driven by the ill-conceived Playa Vista development.

Incorrect charges leveled by Malibu Bay Co. supporters against Wetlands Action Network at council hearings also appeared to come straight from the Playa Vista developers. So, why are Playa Vista developers seemingly eager to support efforts to construct what could be the largest development in the history of Malibu — also in a wetlands floodplain?

Perhaps there is a public relations plan to make the Malibu Civic Center Development and Playa Vista “sister projects.” Perhaps the residences of S K & G in Malibu is a factor, and Wall Street moguls are trying to make certain their new DreamWorks partners know they are doing all they can to quash the efforts of Wetlands Action Network, whose lawsuits have been successful at stalling construction at the site for nearly three years since DreamWorks first announced their intention to build at Ballona Wetlands.

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Imagine our surprise when, on the day of the council decision to hire Dr. Huffman, we learned that Malibu City Councilman Harry Barovsky is a senior vice-president for Morgan Stanley — one of the Playa Vista development parnters. Could this coincidence also be a factor in efforts to discredit Wetlands Action Network? I hope not. However, one important thing I have learned, when attempting to insure equity on behalf of the public when taking on the behemoths of influence and power, it never hurts to shine a little light on the subject matter.

Marcia Hanscom

executive director, Wetlands Action Network

(310) 457-0300

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