MARINA DEL REY, CA — A SoCalGas security guard threatened activist and LA City Council candidate Molly Basler on Monday, calling Los Angeles police and threatening to arrest her for appearing at the Ballona Wetlands.
Basler is one of many locals, activists and environmentalists calling for answers about what's happening at the site, accusing the company of pursuing the project while the public is focused on the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis. Locals believe there is increased activity at the ecological reserve, alleging the gas company is pushing ahead on a project that hasn't been approved yet by California Coastal Commission officials.
Basler was on a Facebook Live video hosted by Jane Unchained News—hosted by Jane Velez-Mitchell—with local activists and environmentalists, documenting crews working in the oil fields and standing along the road when a security guard at the oil field site approached her.
"That woman was accusing me of going on the property that I was aggressive," Basler said on the video. "I've been on the public street the whole time."
The gas company then called the cops. Three police cars arrived at the location along Culver Boulevard in Playa del Rey to question Basler. The officers said that they received a call that she was trespassing.
Basler told the officers that she was on public property and that the Facebook Live video shows that.
"That's the whole reason why we're here," an officer said in the video. "I want the person reporting to come here and tell me what they saw."
The wetlands are considered state property.
Residents have noticed workers digging and drilling inside the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve in recent weeks, just feet away from where endangered birds have been documented, activists from Defend the Ballona Wetlands told Patch.
Activists argue that a proposed project to restore the site is not a real restoration. It's backed by Heal the Bay, SoCalGas Company and Friends of the Ballona Wetlands, but locals are questioning the project and who profits.
According to public records, in 2019, Friends of the Ballona Wetlands received $30,000 from SoCalGas Company. Heal the Bay received $8,000 from the company in 2019.
Defend Ballona Wetlands and the Sierra Club are voicing concerns over the project, and have filed a lawsuit to stop the project and protect the area, a habitat that remains home to hundreds of species of wildlife.
"It's very, very telling that they're calling the police," Velez-Mitchell said. "I am shocked."
"I'd like to call the police and ask SoCalGas to be arrested," activist Marcia Hanscom said.
Environmentalists are demanding to know if the permits for crews to work there are approved and questioning SoCalGas over activity in the wetlands area.
They believe the project—if approved—could create major traffic around LAX, Playa del Rey, Westchester, Marina del Rey, Culver City and Venice.
Watch the incident happen on this live video from Jane Unchained News, hosted by Jane Velez-Mitchell, it's near the 39:20 timestamp.
- Patch staffers Nicole Charky and Bob Porterfield contributed to this report.