Is ‘outreach’ just cover for politicians to ram through a project?


To the editor: In discussing the effort to study replacing the Marina Freeway with housing and green space, columnist Erika D. Smith raises an interesting question about the true purpose of community outreach on controversial projects. (“What a refusal to study turning a freeway into housing says about L.A.’s future,” column, Oct. 28)

If it is not intended to at least attempt to reach every affected resident — meaning not just conducting surveys of a “representative sample,” but also sending public notices, emails and postcards to everyone in the affected community — and to give all residents the opportunity to provide feedback that can potentially change the outcome of the proposal, up to and including stopping it altogether, then what exactly is the purpose?

Is it to provide political cover to officials who intend to implement a project regardless of public opinion, allowing them to claim they did “outreach” that really is no more than window dressing? And some wonder why the public is cynical and disengaged with their government.

At least Smith’s article is saying the quiet part out loud on this topic, though ironically it informs her readers about a project they may not otherwise have known about — and that she clearly wishes could have remained under the radar until it had advanced to the point of no return.

Kathleen Barreto, Culver City

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To the editor: I’ve followed Westside development issues for years, but outreach about a possible study to remove the Marina Freeway didn’t come to my attention until it was taken off the table.

Though short, the Marina Freeway is an important transportation resource. While some may think of it as just a quick route to the 405 Freeway, it also offers quick access to eastbound Slauson Avenue and a good route to La Cienega Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, which take us to the 10 Freeway and various other destinations.

Furthermore, the Marina Freeway will be indispensable if local residents must evacuate on short notice.

Steve Freedman, Venice