Army Corps Bulldozes 40 Acres of Prime L.A. Wetlands Because of Bums and Gay Sex

The Sepulveda Dam Basin, the San Fernando Valley oasis where the Los Angeles River gathers for its brief sprint into the Pacific, is one of the great green spaces within the suburban grid of Southern California. Or, I should say, was.

From the LA Weekly comes a story that beggars belief: Just before Christmas, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, without really consulting anybody, bulldozed more than 40 acres of the "prime wildlife and vegetative habitat," partly for reasons of social cleansing:

Corps officials insisted the federal flood-control agency had no choice, in part because cruising gay men and homeless campers had flocked there and endangered the public.

Local law enforcement on the bums-and-gay-sex beat have no idea what the Corps is talking about:

That rationale is news to West Valley Division Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Anne-Marie Fuller, who for six months has overseen vice patrols in Sepulveda Basin in Encino. Fuller tells L.A. Weekly she's unaware of homeless or lewd-behavior problems beyond those commonly seen in parks and woods patrolled by LAPD. "It sounds kind of strange," Fuller says, adding she'd "never heard anything" about a mounting threat to public safety. [...]

Meanwhile, Deputy City Attorney Raffy Astvasadoorian says he has prosecuted only seven minor cases there, for misdemeanor illegal camping, with most fines set at just $100. Corps spokesman Dave Palmer insisted to the Weekly that the complaints it got from law enforcement were "verbal," including from the LAPD and from the City Attorney's Office — but Astvasadoorian denies that city attorneys complained. [...]

A statement from Corps Operations Branch chief Tomas Beauchamp-Hernandez claims that the Corps received public-safety complaints from the city of L.A.'s obscure Office of Public Safety within the Department of General Services, which until Jan. 1 had law enforcement responsibility for the Sepulveda Dam Basin area.

See the Weekly's infuriating before-and-after photos here. As ever, there are few things more terrifying in Southern California than bureaucrats armed with bulldozers.

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  • The Late P Brooks||

    Bums and gay sex?

    Isn't that redundant?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    I do see, there what you did.

  • playa manhattan||

    "The Sepulveda Basin and nearby Woodley Park received four out of five stars on the website cruisinggays.com."

    Only 4 stars?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Maybe the EPA can go at the Corps with daggers drawn for hurting wetlandz.

    Say, maybe this is how we can reduce government interference in normal people's lives - set them against each other. Two agencies go in, one comes out.

  • Juice||

    I love the line about not telling the public. They obviously kept it quiet on purpose. They knew everyone, not just hippies, would be down there protesting.

  • The Sego Sago Kid||

    We can't have any of those undesirables gamboling freely through pristine wetlands, now can we? Mother Nature should be thanking us.

  • juris imprudent||

    Yeah, I wouldn't exactly call that a pristine wetland. It is a flood control basin with a big old concrete dam.

  • phandaal||

    You've just given me a truly hilarious image. Thank you.

  • John||

    I can't figure this case out. Is this really the case where some bureaucrat decided that gay men cruising for sex in public parks, while admittedly disgusting, should be suppressed at all costs?

  • Hyperion||

    You know that conspiracy theory about how we have a multitude of rogue government agencies acting independently and none of them knowing jack about what the other ones are doing?

    It's true.

  • John||

    That is not a theory that is a fact. Anyone who has ever worked in government can tell you that.

  • Hyperion||

    I know John, just sayin, some call it conspiracy theory while those of us more informed know that it is a fact.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    It's how fuck you cut spending turned into no more fucking, cut down these trees.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    The fact that the Corps kept what they were doing secret is a bit disconcerting thought.

  • Killazontherun||

    It first came to my attention as a kid watching BJ And The Bear. One episode a government agency is highly dissatisfied with BJs services. Tells him he'll never haul for them again. The next episode he gets a contract with another federal agency. Certainly left an impression as that is just about all I remember from it besides the scam he pulled on Sheriff Lobo.

  • Matt Welch||

    There is verbiage in the article about needing to clear vegetation in order to preserve the structural integrity of the dam, but to my uneducated mind that would be basically pulling deep-rooted trees, right? It's possible that the gay/homeless excuse gave them carte blanche to treat it like an emergency, which they then used to accomplish some root-clearing....ah, I don't know.

  • SKR||

    it's been my experience via river meetings thst the corps doesn't care about jack except for the integrity of the flood control system, certainly not bums and buggerers. so yeah, that sounds about right.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Agreed.

  • R C Dean||

    to my uneducated mind that would be basically pulling deep-rooted trees, right?

    Looking at that after picture, it seems that they actually left the big, deeprooted trees.

  • SIV||

    I'd look to see whose property just got a "basin view" thanks to the clearing.

  • Hyperion||

    All that will ever come out of this is a bunch of silent fingers pointing in different directions.

    If a private contractor did this, it would be world news, front page, and the greenies would be out in force screaming hysterically about the apocalypse. Since the gubmit did it, nothing to see here, move along.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Why here is a relevant comparison.

    http://articles.latimes.com/20.....wetlands24

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "From bodily fluids and hair samples, we've determined that a bunch of old homeless dudes had an orgy in there."

    So what does happen when environmentalists clash with a federal bureaucracy not dedicated to - or even apparently concerned at all with - the envrionmentalist cause?

  • Hyperion||

    So what does happen when environmentalists clash with a federal bureaucracy not dedicated to - or even apparently concerned at all with - the envrionmentalist cause?

    It's one of those questions that will forever go unanswered since it's never going to happen.

    Evil Korporashunz rape mother Gaia, gubmint is the savior of mother Gaia.

    Hope that clears it up fer ya.

  • R C Dean||

    I can't figure out why the Corps of Engineers should have the authority to do anything at all (other, perhaps, than put up a fence) because of how the public is using any area.

  • Reformed Republican||

    That was my question. What part of the Army Corps of Engineers mission authorizes them to be morality police.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Because the can and are never held to account. The only thing that has gotten any CoE big shot in trouble is calling a Senator "ma'am".

  • LTC(ret) John||

    *they*

  • Brandon||

    Because why do you hate the soldiers who are protecting your freedom?!!

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Ordinary man clears his land in NM, ACOE goes after him:

    http://articles.latimes.com/20.....e-20121230

  • Cdr Lytton||

    A bark beetle infestation killed hundreds of the piñons, so Smith decided to cut and chip them to reduce fire danger. He also cleared trash that had been dumped in the arroyo — including old sofas and car seats.

    Smith also removed the brush that was growing there and smoothed out 2- to 3-foot-deep eroded channels so he could maneuver his equipment.
  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    You left out the best part:

    The corps decided to investigate when a neighbor complained, he said.

    I propose a special circle of hell for such people.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    If gay men and homeless campers are the criteria for bulldozing a place, does that mean all of San Francisco is next on the list?

  • Xeones||

    I don't see what the problem is. Obviously there was a nest of Deep Ones under the dam in open violation of the Benthic Treaties, and the Army was doing what it had to do.

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