By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
--Los Angeles Times, March 9
As you may have already guessed, that particular report stated, pending a final approval by both the City Council and its budgetary committee, that it’s safe to go ahead and build housing on a formerly contentious 80 acres of the Playa Vista development site. The actual issue at hand was whether the council would give final approval for the state to issue Mello-Roos bonds to finance services like roads and sewers.
But the standing question was really about site safety: There were lingering suspicions that the soil was laced with methane and other gases, and that the site itself might straddle a quake fault. There was also a concern that venting this gas from the ground would cause dangerous surface subsidence.
Faced with strongly voiced opinions of project opponents last year, as well as some ambiguities in earlier city reports, the council got extra cautious and turned the city bureaucracy loose on the problem. The result is a 50-odd-page text (backed up by huge binders of research documents, available in five Westside public libraries) which suggests that, apart from the methane, the site dangers are entirely mythical. The report is pretty thorough, and represents the work of three city agencies: the Chief Legislative Analyst; the Department of Building and Safety; and the Office of Administrative Research Services. There are also three listed state agencies: the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment; the state EPA‘s Department of Toxic Substances Control; and the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
So what is the response from the Wetlands Action Network? Seven of the nine contract consultants on the report have some sinister connection with Playa Vista Inc. What an ”outrage.“ Let’s just forget about all the government agencies (actually, six government agencies plus two private contractors equals a majority of eight out of 15 report participants that have no alleged ”conflict“) involved -- until we can come up with an ad hominem that suits them. Maybe those agencies have some fix in with the ”Hollywood“ or ”Wall Street“ capitalists Hanscom has previously excoriated as the forces behind Playa Vista.
The virtue of the ad hominem is that you don‘t need to prove a thing. You just hook-shot some guilt-by-association and leave it be. That’s why ad hominem is the favorite weapon of extremists of every stripe, right and left: of the McCarthy Committee and the Moscow Trials prosecutors. Now, I‘m not saying the report is irrefutable. I’m just saying that if you don‘t like its findings, you ought to make at least a stab at refuting them. And the findings are that gas emission, apart from some local methane, ”[is] an insignificant risk, with no further investigation or remediation warranted.“ There is also, apparently, no such thing as the ”postulated Lincoln Boulevard Fault“ suggested by a report last year.