LOS ANGELES, Jan. 29, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — A community environmental group filed a lawsuit today challenging California fish & wildlife officials’ highly controversial approval last month of a project that would bulldoze the cherished Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve, located north of Los Angeles International Airport.  Protect Ballona Wetlands’ petition for writ of mandate asks the Los Angeles Superior Court to set aside all approvals, alleging numerous violations of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The petition alleges that the project proposed was not adequately described, a complaint raised by federal agencies including the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

«In addition to the project description being inaccurate, there are errors with the environmental baseline, and significant new information was disclosed late or not at all, requiring recirculation of the Environmental Impact Report,» explained public interest lawyer Jamie T. Hall.

«Standing out like a sore thumb is the revelation that the engineers who designed this project used the incorrect flood risk standards.  For people living, working or driving near the wetlands, the flood risk standards are very important to get right, especially given concerns about sea level rise on the coast.  The US Army Corps of Engineers decided not to release a final Environmental Impact Statement due to this concern,» continued Hall.

Environmental activist Wendy-Sue Rosen said Protect Ballona Wetlands was formed due to the shocking lack of legitimate information related to flood risk, unacknowledged damage to the environment, and the exorbitant cost of a project clearly detrimental to wildlife.

«This project is estimated to cost the public more than $250 million, and more than $12 million in public funds have already been spent on a design using an incorrect flood risk standard – that’s outrageous!» said Rosen.

Inadequate responses to comments made by the public during the CEQA process is another violation that looms large. 

Four members of the Garland family, who provided comments during the one public hearing held for this highly destructive project, have joined Protect Ballona Wetlands.  Their comments, like many others, were mostly dismissed by state officials.

«The Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve is a very special place to me.  There is a vast and varied range of birds that I’ve seen from the Great Blue Heron, Egret, Osprey, Black-crowned Night Heron, White-Tailed Kite, and so many more reliant on this land to survive,» explained Jackson Garland, who spent his 16th birthday testifying at the public hearing convened in November, 2017.

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