TUESDAY: Ask Star Environmental Attorney Why He is Suing California State Coastal Conservancy and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation


Los Angeles, Calif. (August 18, 2020) — Outrage is growing over the misguided and cynical plan to bulldoze the Ballona Wetlands State Ecological Reserve, 640 acres that is teeming with wildlife and plants, some threatened and endangered.

In Defense of Animals will host a Virtual Town Hall on this issue on Tuesday, August 18th at 5 p.m. PT, which will stream on multiple Facebook pages. Some 40 environmental and animal welfare organizations have voiced opposition to this project.

The event will lead off with a major announcement regarding the effort to stop this environmentally destructive boondoggle — a lawsuit filed by nationally recognized civil rights, environmental and animal protection attorney Bryan W. Pease exposing the flagrant misuse of public funds. The suit was filed August 7th by Defend Ballona Wetlands, the Animal Protection, Rescue League Inc. and three individuals in Los Angeles Superior Court against the California State Coastal Conservancy and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation.

The plan, which state agencies falsely call a “restoration,” would do the opposite, spending 270 million dollars and 9 long years bulldozing the entire reserve, LA’s last remaining coastal wetlands and a landing spot for migratory birds.

Proponents claim this “restoration” will provide more public access. The truth is, again, the opposite. Access is currently being denied to the public by the very entities that purport to want to provide it. There is literally a locked gate that stops taxpayers from accessing the wetlands. State agencies have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars improving an area where the public is locked out. All they have to do is unlock the gate! Instead, they want to destroy the entire reserve. 

If the big bulldozing project proceeds, a well-used, beloved bicycle path through the heart of the Ballona Wetlands State Ecological Reserve, would be demolished, thus removing a really important public access trail that exists today.

Follow the Money

The real agenda is to allow SoCal Gas to dig up those wetlands and “restore” their crumbling infrastructure. Underneath the wetlands are gas wells and pipes. Most people have no idea. Gas is pumped in from various states and held there to be pumped out during the most profitable seasons.

The organizations that support this flawed plan have gotten significant donations from SoCalGas. And guess who has the keys to the locked gate they could open today? SoCalGas.

Nine years of bulldozing, destruction and death will obliterate the natural beauty of Playa del Rey’s seaside community and create a traffic nightmare for Playa and neighboring Marina del Rey and Culver City, making transit to and from nearby LAX an obstacle course.

This plan would spell certain death for thousands of wild animals – owls, foxes, skunks, egrets and more – who rely on this habitat – it’s their home.

Today, the world reels from a zoonotic pandemic caused by human interference with wildlife. Experts send a clear message: let wildlife be. Give nature some room. The wetlands, as they stand now, are perfectly designed to provide the measured public access that lets people enjoy nature without destroying it.

To that end, key leaders who demand access to Ballona Wetlands are taking part in a Virtual Town Hall on Tuesday, August 18th at 5 p.m. PT to explain why this bulldozing plan is a boondoggle and a betrayal. Environmental lawyer Bryan Pease who filed the case will be the star guest. Please join the Town Hall for an exclusive opportunity to ask questions about the alleged misuse of $12 million public dollars. 

  • Event Host: Lisa Levinson, In Defense of Animals
  • Panel Moderator: Molly Basler, Green Dream Campaign, Climate Reality
  • Speakers:
    • Rick Pine, Ballona Naturalist
    • Mary Beth Trautwein, Protect Playa Now
    • Jane Velez-Mitchell, journalist and author
    • Bryan W. Pease, nationally recognized civil rights, environmental and animal protection attorney at law

Members of the public are encouraged to attend the town hall and also sign the alert to California Governor Gavin Newsom, Sens. Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, Reps. Ted Lieu and Maxine Waters and LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn.

Sign the Alert: www.idausa.org/saveballona

Register for the Town Hall on Zoom: https://bit.ly/3fo4o6R 

Find Out More: www.DefendBallonaWetlands.org

Town Hall Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/2373488206288507

Filing: Available on request

Contact: Lisa Levinson, lisa@idausa.org, 215-620-2130