By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Because Toy and other federal officials failed to hold a public meeting or to attempt any outreach regarding their real intentions, none of the hundreds of people who have volunteered over the decades, slowly creating the ecosystem, had a chance to challenge the Corps under federal environmental protection laws.
Bizarrely, the Corps destroyed some vegetation it planted as early as the late 1970s, when taxpayers footed the bill for restoration. Now taxpayers are likely to pay twice more — once for the bulldozing bill and again if the ruined ecosystem is restored.
When a Weekly reporter visited a few days ago, even public paths and decorative markers installed near a pedestrian bridge across a small stream had been shattered by earth movers.
"What's very troubling is that this speaks to a larger issue as we try to bring the Los Angeles River [restoration project] to fruition, because [the Army Corps] has partial jurisdiction," de Leon says. "I'm very concerned, because they have a penchant for running over local interests — all over the country." What they did in L.A., De Leon says, "is very symbolic."
Ohlenkamp, of the Audubon Society, says Corps officials are "definitely saying the primary purpose of what they've done is 'public safety.' ... They say the ends justify the means. The 'ends' are a clear, open space where the police can see forever and the Corps can see forever, and there will no longer be people wandering through the bushes."
A statement from Corps Operations Branch chief Tomas Beauchamp-Hernandez claims that the Corps received public-safety complaints from the city of L.A.'s obscure Office of Public Safety within the Department of General Services, which until Jan. 1 had law enforcement responsibility for the Sepulveda Dam Basin area. Los Angeles General Services chief Tony Royster did not return the Weekly's calls.
Beauchamp-Hernandez also claimed that someone from the L.A. City Council complained of safety problems, which he described as a "paramount" Corps issue. The city councilman for that area, Tony Cardenas, just joined the U.S. Congress and did not return calls from the Weekly.
Already, some homeless people have merely shifted north into the wooded, 180-acre Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Area leased from the Corps by the L.A. Parks Department. There, a fresh homeless camp has risen right across from the clearcut area.
Sen. Pavley warned that the Corps' credibility is now at stake because the federal agency — part of the U.S. Army — is involved in environmental and waterway projects throughout California.
But Corps spokesman Jay Field downplayed the debacle, as have others. They have said their real error was in failing to fully inform the public of the coming destruction, and not the destruction itself.
"Hindsight is 20-20, and perhaps as in any endeavor one can do better," Field said in a statement.
More absurdist, neurotic, dishonest, dissembling, destructive and (of course) breathtakingly self-serving bigotry from "Love Me, Love Me I'm a Liberal" LA.
What a joke!!! My friends and I have ridden our bikes many times (late at night) around that park and never had a problem! They really did ruin a beautiful thing. It looks horrible now!
So what if grown people are fucking in the woods. We dont go around bull dozing Yosemite or Yellowstone because people are caught fucking. Trust me there are millions of tents that are rocking out.there...
How are all these people allowed to spend tax money doing things taxpayers don't want done or even know is going on? Why does it seem like every story lately is about a politician or bureaucrat either doing their jobs wrong or not doing them at all? And what the hell happened to people standing up and defending themselves against that kind of misrepresentation? This is a sad story.
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