Ecologically–sensitive dunes graded by Legado Companies
By Sam Catanzaro
After a developer bulldozed ecologically sensitive sand dunes in Playa Del Rey, Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin is demanding legal action.
Local residents contacted the councilmember’s office after noticing the developer using heavy machinery on the ecologically sensitive Playa del Rey dunes. According to Bonin, his staff and residents on two occasions ordered crews to cease the clearing.
Bonin says that the property owner, Legado Companies, was instructed to take down some rusty fencing surrounding the property, but does not believe permission was granted to grade the dunes.
“The property owner is claiming they were ordered or authorized to do the work. That’s bull. They were ordered to remove a rusty and sharp-edged fence that was a danger to kids at the beach. They were not directed or authorized to regrade the dunes and destroy sensitive habitat. We need restoration, remediation, and penalties,” Bonin said. “I will be demanding a full investigation, complete restoration, and appropriate legal action. In the meantime, members of the community and my staff are keeping a watchful eye on dunes and their sensitive habitat”
According to Bonin, both the California Coastal Commission and the Los Angeles Department of Building & Safety are investigating the incident.
“The removal of the fencing and posts was ordered by the city pursuant to an Order to Comply because the fencing was rusty and dangerous to the public. Our client has no choice. No grading was done and no sand removed offsite,” An attorney for Legado Companies said in a statement to CBSLA.
In a Facebook post, Heal the Bay described the important role the dunes play in the local ecosystem.
“There are very few natural dunes left in L.A. We are outraged to see the destruction of this rare habitat in Playa del Rey. If we don’t act now to restore and protect the Playa del Rey dunes, we are leaving our coastline defenseless,” Heal the Bay said. “Often times, urban development is built right up against the water’s edge, with little room for wide stretches of hilly sand that anchor wildlife and act as natural buffers against the impacts of climate change. The leveling of the Playa del Rey dunes means our coast is even more vulnerable to erosion, sea level rise and invasive species.”
While Legado Companies has announced no plans to develop the area, they are currently embroiled in a lawsuit with the city over an undeveloped triangular parcel land between Culver and Vista Del Mar at 138 Culver Boulevard that the company wants to build a mixed-use project on that critics say would be out of character with the neighborhood.