June 17, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Brentwood Weighs In – Part 2

Photo by Tom KaletteDear Jeff,
I finally have read the Brentwood Beat article in the July/August issue of your Brentwood News. As a supporter of your endeavor to supply our community with an open venue to the goings-on in BW I find this article lacking the fairness you have always preached. This time your editorial took a very different approach in explaining an issue facing, in particular, those in the immediate geographic area of “the bridge†. The opposition certainly was not a last minute attack on Metro as they were well aware of the neighbors and other hillside organizations concern with the placement of the new “parallel bridge†. The concept for a side-by-side parallel bridge had the support of the I-405 Community Advisory Committee (a group not mentioned in your article). But, when the design was finally presented early this year it was not pPhoto by Tom Kalettearallel to or close to the existing bridge. You mention side-by-side in your article and side-by-side is not what was presented.

The second paragraph outlines exactly what our democracy is all about. Your vague nasty comment about some citizens taking it upon them selves to influence the outcome reads as though some citizens got together to buy their way to a decision in their favor. But, in reality they were exercising their right of public expression. The majority rule statement would only come into affect when the decision making authority votes their decision, certainly not during debate. This is exactly what happened and you seem to disagree with the majority decision by those who had the responsibility to make the final decision, which was not the Brentwood Residents Coalition (BRC).

Personally I do not agree with Photo by Tom Kalettethe BRC on all their issues as I do not always agree with you. You call them activists, but I believe advocates more closely defines their efforts and is a better description of these efforts. An advocate offers his community the following:
Assist in the development of better public policy
Ensure governments’ accountability to citizens.
Give a voice to (misrepresented) citizen interests
Mobilize citizens to participate in the democratic process
Support the development of a culture of democracy
I believe the BRC would agree that this is their Mission and the umbrella under which they operate.

I agree that common sense is important, but if one believes that his common sense interpretation is better than the rules, it is time to change the rules, not ignore them, which is what you seem to promote in your editorial.
-Steve Gilbert

Hey Jeff,
I may be too late in sending this email, but I have been thinking about your editorial “Death by Gridlock†in last month’s Brentwood News and I decided that I did want to make a comment on it. I was not involved at all in the 405 widening project, so I have no first hand knowledge of the Mulholland Bridge Project, but I was concerned about how you painted the situation in your editorial, which seemed a bit one-sided and inflammatory. It also makes Brentwood as a community look terrible, as if we are a bunch of squabbling selfish individuals instead of the very strong and cohesive community that we truly are.
There are many important issues that confront all of us in Brentwood who live so close to the Santa Monica Mountains. Many, like our beloved late Barbara Goldenberg, have devoted much of their lives to “keeping Brentwood beautiful.†Of course, not everyone can possibly agree on every issue, but we should be celebrating the fact that Brentwood has so many strong activists and dedicated citizens, from the Brentwood Community Council, the Brentwood Residents’ Coalition, to Brentwood Green, Brentwood Beautiful, Brentwood 90049 and our very strong multiple Homeowners’ Associations.

As we know now, Carmageddon did not happen. And while some have criticisms of CEQA and its required environmental impact reports, it is an extremely important and effective law to make sure that environmental impacts of major projects are fully disclosed to the public and that those impacts can be minimized. People have the right to seek compliance with the law and to voice objections to particular projects, just as others have the right to support and seek approval of them. We should not be demonizing anyone for this; rather we should be encouraging public involvement and discussion, as this is one of the strengths of our community.

From my understanding of the issue, there was in fact a great deal of opposition to the building of a second bridge, particularly without any environmental review. The fact that CalTrans backed off so quickly shows that it probably did not comply with the law. Wendy-Sue Rosen and Tom Freeman were not alone – the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy is hardly anyone’s “follower.†Wendy-Sue and Tom have worked very hard on many important Brentwood issues – most recently, on fighting the redistricting effort that would have divided Brentwood. Of course there will be controversies and disagreements over future issues, but I would hope that our community can continue its activism in a strong and respectful way and I would strongly object to the suggestion in your editorial that “laws should be passed†to give mayors and governors the right to squelch public opposition to major projects and to override a law like CEQA.
-Dante Brown

Jeff,
Your recent editorial was forwarded to me in Paris where I am recuperating from an unfortunate encounter with a motorcycle and I feel compelled to reply. I am not only disappointed, but disheartened to read of tactics Wendy-Sue Rosen and “friends†have employed. Not only have they chosen to eschew working with the exisiting commnity forums that work so hard to try and present all sides before taking a position, but given the current economic climate, we can hardly afford to spend the additional dollars on a questionable solution, especially when that solution results in even more inconvenience for the already gridlocked Westside. So sorry that they have chosen to behave like bullies rather than consensus builders.
-Susan Hirsch

Jeff,
Your article “Death by Gridlock†could have been called “Tyranny by Threat†.

The Gang of Three (who comprise the BRC) is entitled to voice its opinion on anything and everything, as they do. But I think it should NOT always include the explicit or implied threat of administrative or court litigation if other parties, or a Zoning Administrator, do not agree with their opinion. Too often, the BRC states that it must be their way or no way – because otherwise they’ll sue. Efficient democracy works if everyone has the opportunity for input, but then the minority view accepts being outvoted.

Much of the threatened litigation is based on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) which is a costly and lengthy process. Governor Brown has proposed relatively small fines for frivolous California Environmental Quality Act lawsuits, which I believe would only result in more litigation on that issue of frivolity. There appears to be a recognition by the administration in California, and others, that the threat of litigation based on allegations of environmental impact is being abused, and I submit that its use in connection with the new bridge matter described in your article, and its use in connection with a single restaurant on San Vicente adding beer and wine, are examples of such abuse. Instead of fines for frivolous suits, I suggest an amendment that a CEQA lawsuit may not be brought by only a handful of people. I don’t know how to word it, but the plaintiffs should include at least X thousand people, or an organization(s) that has or represents X thousand members.

My view of the policies followed by the Brentwood Community Council, in contrast to the BRC, is that the Brentwood Community Council favors smart growth and reasonable development, subject to reasonable conditions. At times, this would permit technical variations from strict compliance with all rules, often in order to accommodate reasonable economic realities. My view of the policies of the Gang of Three are that they mirror one of its members who has described Brentwood as a “bedroom community†and that development on San Vicente will make it a “center for night life†. Isn’t that what the majority wants on San Vicente? In view of traffic, I personally avoid going to Westwood and Beverly Hills for dinner, and wish we had more choices on San Vicente, at the Brentwood Village, and the Brentwood Country Mart. I’m concerned that the costs and delays imposed on new establishments wishing to come to Brentwood have discouraged the number and quality of our choices, and resulted in merely more nail shops and financial institutions on San Vicente.

Jeff, I applaud your appeal to common sense, and your courageous journalism.
-Ray Klein

What do you think? Brentwood News and Westside Today want to know.

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