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Ballona Freshwater Marsh | Safety Update

January 29, 2021

[Posted by Chuck Almdale]

We are passing along the following caution to birders and other walkers in the Ballona area.

Hello Birders,
Some of you may be aware that parking, habitat, and safety conditions at the Ballona Freshwater Marsh have deteriorated significantly over the last 8 months or so. I have just been informed that on Tuesday [26 Jan. 2021] a woman who lives in Playa Vista was attacked at the Ballona Freshwater Marsh by three men with knives. She was able to escape and is okay but we don’t know any other details at this time and the men have not been found. The Ballona Wetlands Conservancy is working on measures to increase safety at the marsh. The marsh has not been very safe for some time now, but this confirmed attack pushes us to ask you to not visit the marsh for the time being. Your safety is very important to us. Please spread the word to any other birders that visit the marsh and are not on this email list. If they want to be added to this list for updates, please send me their email address. I will let you know of any new information I receive.

Best wishes during these troubled times,

Neysa Frechette
Manager of Scientific Programs
Friends of Ballona

Lisa Fimiani, long-term board member of Friends of Ballona and maven of all things Ballona, gave me some clarification, which I pass along to you with her consent.

“We have a very serious problem at the Ballona Freshwater Marsh with people who have taken up residence in their RV’s, cars, buses along Jefferson Boulevard; and some of them are not very nice people.  The situation has escalated with more and more people crowding into the few parking spots left, so if you go there to bird you basically cannot find a parking spot on Jefferson.  We’ve been battling this for over a year, long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.  The City has been absolutely useless in this situation – claiming they cannot force people to move due to COVID-19 restrictions.  We’ve tried getting the City to put up NO OVERNIGHT PARKING signs, but the City won’t enforce them.  Meanwhile, some of these “service resistant” folks have been cutting bushes and trees down for firewood, snagging wildlife with fishing lines, [going to the bathroom] everywhere, dumping unbelievable amounts of garbage, and basically running roughshod over our beloved Freshwater Marsh.  I’m so angry I can barely speak about this, and the Marsh Manager, Edith Read, is beside herself (she’s copied).  Her crew has had to deal with this mess, as well as the Ballona Wetlands Conservancy, who have been forced to hire HAZMAT crews and now security to patrol the area.

If you know anyone high up in government who can help, please reach out.”

There you have it. Be careful out there. And if you have any pull, push or twist with local government, feel free to use it.

  1. Maita permalink
    February 1, 2021 9:31 pm

    I was there on Saturday and Sunday, that area near the benches smells of stench, and piles of garbage are left on the path. You don’t want to arrive there too too early or stay too late.


  2. Alice Goldstein permalink
    January 30, 2021 11:42 am

    Unfortunately I had to give up birding there. I used to go 4X per week and NEVER without a dog. One can’t find parking for a long time now.
    About 1 1/2 years ago I called Bonin’s office and bitterly complained about the tampons in the bushes as well as other filth. I suggested that Fisheries & Wildlife knock on the RV doors and hand out garbage bags to ask the owners to clean up after themselves. The reply was “We can’t do that.” Why not?
    Also way before this I saw sheriffs going the grassy beyond the W. gate with rifles and dogs which really scared me.
    Another time I read about someone wanted for murder in another State was captured camping out off of Culver there.
    How do we take Ballona back?


    • Chukar permalink*
      January 31, 2021 2:18 pm

      I’m no expert on this subject, but I’d guess that joining forces with Friends of Ballona is a good place to start.
      Neysa Frechette
      Friends of Ballona Wetlands | P.O. Box 5159 | Playa del Rey | CA | 90296
      Ph: 310.306.5994


  3. Edna R.S. Alvarez permalink
    January 29, 2021 2:07 pm

    Thank you for letting us know about this sad and potentially dangerous situation.


  4. Anne Slattery permalink
    January 29, 2021 2:02 pm

    HI – do you have Neysa’s email address? She says we can be added to an update list, but her email address isn’t included to reach her. This info makes me so sad, as Ballona has been a place I love, but the last many times I’ve attempted to go – it’s exactly as Lisa describes below. Thank you for sending this out.




    • Chukar permalink*
      January 31, 2021 2:14 pm

      I normally don’t give out email addresses, but this is a Friends of Ballona address.
      Neysa Frechette


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