Re: Piece of Mind column, "Giving fields a sporting chance," July 15.
Many of us — hikers, runners, walkers, bicyclists, equestrians, artists, scientists, children, families — go to Hahamonga because we need wild spaces, unpredictable surfaces, plants, trees, flowers, running wild water, birds, small mammals, deer, bumblebees and the occasional coyote and bobcat. We live nearby because it is there and easy to access, and it gives us what we can't find in the urban/suburban landscape.
The Station fire took 250 square miles of habitat from our treasured wildlife, and those that survived have been compressed into what little remains. The plans for soccer fields will not make their life better; it will remove one more option for their existence.
Every day there are birders, senior citizens, bikers, runners, hikers and others that escape from the noise and asphalt to find peace of mind and to experience a pocket of wild, open space. Once it is gone, it will never be the same for the people, the birds, the animals and the trees.
For more than two months I spoke almost daily with anyone encountered in Hahamongna — hikers, families on nature walks, equestrians, joggers, mountain bikers, birders, scientists — and only two individuals out of at least 400 thought that the soccer park was a good plan. Most of the people I spoke with were shocked that such an idea had been proposed, much less accepted by the city of Pasadena.
When issues of whether to develop an area are weighed, especially when the place considered is a public area, then it makes sense that the governing body evaluates the best use for the most diverse public. In the case of Hahamongna, based on the people who use and appreciate the area as it is, there is no doubt in my mind that the majority people do not want a soccer field.
The online petition at http://www.savehahamongna.org does a good job in describing the reasons for preservation through diverse writers.
The majority of people who love Hahamongna as it is — a haven for people and wildlife.
Check leaders' emergency powers
The issue is the same at local, regional and state level: Emergencies are proclaimed but never terminated. There is good reason to terminate emergencies promptly: These declarations remove legal protections. Contracts don't require competitive bidding. Police powers are extended. Public officials are insulated from civil actions. Expenditures take place outside budgets. Resources are diverted.
At the beginning of his term, Arnold Schwarzenegger terminated several existing emergencies. Since then I find no record of any emergency being terminated — though all emergency declarations are required to be terminated as soon as conditions warrant.
Los Angeles County still has an emergency declaration in force from 1990 for medfly infestation. The county keeps the Station fire emergency on the books, using it to justify any repairs vaguely related to the fire without normal approvals, budgeting or competitive bidding. This sets up public officials for corruption and waste of public monies. Are these repairs are being properly considered as to their benefit, safety and environmental impact?
The same is happening at the local level in La Cañada Flintridge with regard to flood and mud damage repairs. Improvements are going into place with no opportunity for public input, comment or oversight.
The California Government Code governs all emergency proclamations. If the state is not obeying or enforcing these laws, who will? By continually operating in crisis management mode, all levels of government in California are moving away from democracy. The people have no voice in too much of what these government bodies are doing. This problem needs to be resolved.
In 1976 U.S. Congress enacted the National Emergencies Act to stop such abuses at the federal level. It stopped open-ended emergencies and formalized congressional checks and balances on the president's emergency powers. A similar law is needed in California to check the emergency powers of the governor and of regional and local authorities. Such a law would serve the best interests of the Legislature and the people of California.
So there it is — a real issue at the state level — yet our state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino respectfully declines to address this issue, as does our LCF city government.
La Cañada Flintridge
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun