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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Former State Senator Questions Lagoon Plan

• More Opposition Is Expressed

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

Former California State Senator Tom Hayden has issued a statement opposing State Parks’ controversial plan to drain, dredge and reconstruct Malibu Lagoon, calling the project “inconsistent with both principled restoration and the prudent use of taxpayer and other public money.”
Hayden, who represented the Malibu area, served for 18 years in the California legislature, chairing key committees on the environment, including the California Natural Resources Committee. He was an outspoken advocate for clean water and worked to pass funding to restore Santa Monica Bay and rebuild the Santa Monica and Malibu piers.
“As a former representative of the coastal communities, I would like to express my concern over the use of millions of taxpayer and other public dollars to bulldoze and dredge the Malibu Lagoon, presumably in order to ‘enhance’ its quality as an endangered wetlands,” Hayden wrote.
“I understand this is a longstanding issue with passions aroused on all sides, but I remain concerned that a ‘rush to judgment’ is in the works in which general obligation [public] bond money is being spent on a project that may be unnecessary, in which transparency is lacking, and worthy environmental monitoring organizations are beneficiaries.
“It is not clear to me who the watchdogs are,” Hayden said. “What is clear is that the Malibu City Council has voted unanimously against the project, which means the state bulldozers will pre-empt the will of local government and the sentiment of many coastal residents.
“I recall being deeply involved as a watchdog over endangered species like the Tidewater Goby when I served as Chair of the Natural Resources Committee.
“Thousands of hours of effort were used to pass environmental restoration bonds, and now these bonds are being used for a purpose never embraced by grassroots volunteers: to fund the bulldozing of nearly 100,000 cubic yards of their habitat, a boon for contractors, but not endangered species.
“By contrast, I remember funding tens of thousands of dollars on plans to open up the long-dammed Malibu Creek, a historic Steelhead Trout habitat that was choked off for decades, and watching the public funds drained on studies that led nowhere. The Creek is still dammed and silted, and the Lagoon may soon follow the path of bulldozing in the name of enhancement. These priorities are inconsistent with both principled restoration and the prudent use of taxpayer and other public money.”
Hayden, who currently serves as a member of the advisory board for the Progressive Democrats of America, joins the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and the Malibu City Council in expressing concerns over the project, which is scheduled to break ground on June 1.
“The Los Angeles County Democratic Party, representing more than one million Democrats throughout the region, has also weighed in on the project. On April 10th, the County Democratic Party passed a resolution that asks the California Secretary of Resources, John Laird, to place the Malibu Lagoon construction project on hold and to require a new Environmental Impact Report (EIR) due to changed circumstances since the original plan had been designed,” says Marcia Hanscom, whose Wetland Defense Fund is one of three organizations appealing the project.
“The political opposition is in tandem to growing community opposition to the Malibu Lagoon demolition,” Hanscom said. “A petition entitled “Don’t Harm Malibu Lagoon to ‘Save It’” has garnered more than 7000 signatures as of April 29th.
Lagoon project opponents say they plan to chain themselves to the bulldozers on June 1 if they are unable to stop the project through legal appeal or political pressure.

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