.

Wetlands Defense Fund Stages Rally Outside Annenberg Center

Protest and rally in Beverly Hills by environmental activists told by police that the philanthropist to whom they directed their messages bought the sidewalks near the new performing art center's evening gala and would not be allowed so close.

Credit: Wetlands Defense Fund
Credit: Wetlands Defense Fund
Several environmental, conservation and animal welfare groups joined forces outside the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills Thursday night for a rally and march in the form of a “Shadow Gala” at the center's opening night gala.

The much anticipated performing arts center opened its doors on Tuesday. The organizers of the rally stressed they were supportive of the arts center according to Marcia Hanscom, executive director of the Ballona Institute in Playa del Rey.

She said they came to protest philanthropist Wallis Annenberg’s first payment of many that are memorialized in a "secretly negotiated agreement" with three California state agencies to essentially buy her own private agenda on public land that was saved from development in 2003 in order to protect wildlife, including rare and endangered species that inhabit the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve on the Los Angeles coast.

Dozens of activists from various organizations dressed in their evening best, as if they were going to attend the gala, but instead, gathered at the Beverly Gardens Park across the street from the refurbished post office and new arts center and marched from corner to corner to corner at Canon Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard.

The groups had planned on having banners and signs with their messages aimed at Wallis Annenberg closer to the event entrance, as long as they stayed on public property on the sidewalks. However, once the marching began, Hanscom said Beverly Hills police informed organizers that the sidewalks on the south side of Santa Monica Boulevard had been "paid for" by the Annenberg’s organization and protestors would not be allowed so near to where attendees would be entering the building.

Hanscom said that besides Annenberg, actors Robert Redford and Brad Pitt, reportedly the co-chairpersons of the gala, were targeted by the activists with written letters delivered to their representatives seeking their help in convincing The Annenberg Foundation to reconsider their involvement at the Ballona Wetlands.

Both actors are known for their concerns for environmental causes.

“It seems ironic that here we are protesting the state government abandoning normal rules in exchange for The Annenberg Foundation’s financial largesse, and we come face to face with another example where a billionaire can basically 'buy' public space," Hansom said. "Something is seriously wrong with this picture."

The groups re-positioned the protest so that vehicles entering for the gala could clearly see the messages directed at Annenberg.
Myla Reson October 18, 2013 at 11:02 PM
I would have joined the protest if I had been in town yesterday evening because I'm keenly aware of how little habitat is left for the creatures that live and thrive in the Ballona Wetlands. Wallis Annenberg's interest in providing shelter for cats and dogs is a fine idea - more power to her - she should find a suitable location for the project and leave our precious Ballona Wetlands and it's endangered inhabitants undisturbed.
Susan Suntree October 19, 2013 at 12:13 AM
The Ballona Wetlands is a very rare and precious landscape that requires our patient and attentive observation and care. it will tell us what it needs if we will only listen.
John Davis October 19, 2013 at 03:49 PM
Wallis can help preserve the wetlands, but not this way. Rather than foisting a no-bid long term lease on the public that contradicts the provisions of the land deed and the State Public Resources code, she could leave a lasting legacy of good. Please reach out to fellow groups like the Sierra Club that promote helping nature, especially when it is already struggling for survival. We all know you can do better and have countless times before. John Davis
Karen Redding October 19, 2013 at 04:41 PM
Health issues kept me from attending this rally. That said, I find it deplorable that someone would even consider building on this site, as less than 3% of the original wetlands still remain in California. We need to be redeveloping the blighted areas that have already been built on and leave what little wild lands are still here. Wetlands are crucial to our survival! This same complex could easily be built elsewhere. It most certainly does NOT need to be built here. Shame on the public officials who have sold out the best interest of the public and our endangered species.
Douglas Fay October 20, 2013 at 03:39 AM
While activists peacefully and respectfully protested at the Beverly Hills Annenberg Center, I joined protesters at the Annenberg Beach House where the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission was celebrating their 25th anniversary and purported accomplishments. What I see when on the beach, in a boat on the ocean, and diving in the Bay, is pollution levels increasing. Water clarity is never what it was when I was younger. The way the SMBRC operates is shameful. Without independent oversight and accountability the abuse of wildlife and public funds will continue. Currently there isn't a single public official willing to stand up and say enough already.
Douglas Fay October 20, 2013 at 03:58 AM
And another thought for all the celebrities and philanthropists that are wondering who should I support. My father was Dr. Rimmon C. Fay. He was the driving force behind everything that was good in California coastal environmental education and awareness for decades. Heal The Bay was started because of his fight to stop a sewage treatment waiver. Rim was also instrumental in stopping Montrose Chemical from dumping DDT off Palos Verdes and so many more environmental battles including saving the Ballona Wetlands. I am absolutely certain he would not approve of the Annenberg development plans within the BWER, the SMBRC leadership, and what Heal The Bay has become.
patricia mcpherson October 20, 2013 at 05:59 PM
There are many organizations and individuals that worked for over 20 years and were successful in securing the preservation of remnant portions of Ballona Wetlands. During that time, Ballona was further compromised by the Playa Vista mega-development project having the Wallstreet crowd of Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter, Goldman Sachs and others at the helm. The land has not been neglected but instead, hard fought for and won and paid for by the public. $140 million in public bonds and another $25 million were set aside for restoration and further land acquisition. The public garnered protective status as an Ecological Reserve which includes codes that preclude the development that Wallis Annenberg seeks to build on Ballona. Deed restrictions were also garnered by the public to protect Ballona's wildlife habitat. Now, Wallis Annenberg seeks to have both the protective laws and deed restrictions lifted. The reality is that on such a small and delicate vestige of wildlife habitat ANY further development becomes a tipping point into death. One does not create a healthy thriving wetlands, as Annenberg says it can, by destroying the habitat and building human structures. Does anyone really believe such inane jargon? Let us make fake believe and it is a substitute for real habitat? Let us show you what used to be at Ballona and THAT will educate thousands about Wallis' idea of responsible stewardship of ecosystems shared in a very UNNATURAL WAY. Meanwhile, there are already two locations offsite of the Reserve that the public has already paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to be--Interpretive Centers for Ballona. The sites have yet to see fruition of the bond authorizations and yet to have the state provide accountability for the funds already publicly provided. We are a LARGE vocal group of different organizations and individuals working to protect Ballona. The groups include the Sierra Club, LA Audubon, national animal welfare groups including In Defense of Animals and Friends of Animals and many many other organizations and local groups. Annenberg and their secretive deals with the state are a new surprise and are a threat to the survival of Ballona's many rare and endangered species. Annenberg withdrew their similar proposals attempted in Rancho Palos Verdes parklands and we are here to stand fast until Annenberg withdraws these proposals from Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve. Patricia McPherson, Grassroots Coalition
patricia mcpherson October 20, 2013 at 06:53 PM
There are many organizations and individuals that worked for over 20 years and were successful in securing the preservation of remnant portions of Ballona Wetlands. During that time, Ballona was further compromised by the Playa Vista mega-development project having the Wallstreet crowd of Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter, Goldman Sachs and others at the helm. The land has not been neglected but instead, hard fought for and won and paid for by the public. $140 million in public bonds and another $25 million were set aside for restoration and further land acquisition. The public garnered protective status as an Ecological Reserve which includes codes that preclude the development that Wallis Annenberg seeks to build on Ballona. Deed restrictions were also garnered by the public to protect Ballona's wildlife habitat. Now, Wallis Annenberg seeks to have both the protective laws and deed restrictions lifted. The reality is that on such a small and delicate vestige of wildlife habitat ANY further development becomes a tipping point into death. One does not create a healthy thriving wetlands, as Annenberg says it can, by destroying the habitat and building human structures. Does anyone really believe such inane jargon? Let us make fake believe and it is a substitute for real habitat? Let us show you what used to be at Ballona and THAT will educate thousands about Wallis' idea of responsible stewardship of ecosystems shared in a very UNNATURAL WAY. Meanwhile, there are already two locations offsite of the Reserve that the public has already paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to be--Interpretive Centers for Ballona. The sites have yet to see fruition of the bond authorizations and yet to have the state provide accountability for the funds already publicly provided. We are a LARGE vocal group of different organizations and individuals working to protect Ballona. The groups include the Sierra Club, LA Audubon, national animal welfare groups including In Defense of Animals and Friends of Animals and many many other organizations and local groups. Annenberg and their secretive deals with the state are a new surprise and are a threat to the survival of Ballona's many rare and endangered species. Annenberg withdrew their similar proposals attempted in Rancho Palos Verdes parklands and we are here to stand fast until Annenberg withdraws these proposals from Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve. Patricia McPherson, Grassroots Coalition

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something