AFTER nearly 30 years since the first master plan for the historic Los Angeles River, the county is closer than ever to harnessing the river’s full potential to benefit the ecosystem, local communities and future generations of people. Angelenos.
Los Angeles County Public Works, in partnership with Ethnic Media Services (EMS), released the Final LA River Master Plan (LARMP) last month, which, in brief, envisions the revitalization of the river within the context of three main categories: water quality, environmental sustainability and community.
The full LARMP published on May 17 is available here: https://larivermasterplan.org/.
The LA County Board of Supervisors is due to consider the plan for adoption on June 14.
As reported by the Asian Journal over the past few years, the LA Department of Public Works, along with other local government and community agencies, updated LARMP to design a more comprehensive, interactive, and interactive LA River. accessible that can act much more than a cool movie backdrop.
If enacted, the LA River — which stretches 51 miles through the sprawling county — and the immediate areas surrounding it would be redesigned not just to improve irrigation and infrastructure issues like flood reduction. and water quality, but also to address social and cultural issues. repercussions.
“We are stewards of this land both the natural and built environment,” Keith Lilley, LA County Deputy Assistant Director of Public Works, said at a press conference hosted by EMS on Tuesday, May 17. “We seek to foster a more positive attitude and equitable basis for all current and future residents. There are nearly one million people living within a mile of the river. We are reimagining a plan that will encourage people and environments to blend and thrive.
As previously reported in the Asian Journal, the mission to revitalize the LA River to better serve its vast communities has been a years-long effort. For a long time, large areas of the LA River looked more like an open sewer with almost no water running through it, a mere remnant of what made Los Angeles an attractive place for native communities and early settlers.
But since 1996, when the LARMP was first drafted, the county has worked to put the river back as a priority, working with local communities, nonprofits, state and national agencies, and d other groups to help the river reach its full potential.
To promote botanical appreciation and studies, habitat and ecosystem functions and laboratories would be located along the river, with an emphasis on increasing and supporting flora biodiversity and wildlife native to California.
But historically, one of the most pressing concerns about the LA River among Angelenos is its lack of amenities and activities for residents.
Along the river, open spaces will connect across the entire 51-mile stretch of the river, with support facilities and trail access, including the upgraded LA River Trail that organizers hope to expand to include the entire length of the river from Canoga Park to Long Beach.
Organizers hope this will encourage more residents to participate in outdoor activities. potentially, these open spaces can also serve as venues for events and places for the community.
“The LA River is an incredible natural resource, but it was never designed to meet the recreational and environmental needs of our riverside communities or the county as a whole,” Kuehl said. “This final version of the LA River Master Plan updates the potential of the river by laying out a thoughtful and comprehensive roadmap that creates a 51-mile artery of sustainable and healthy habitats for plants, animals and humans. .”
However, the massive undertaking to essentially create an LA River 2.0 is not without serious concerns from the various communities served by the LA River. Communities of color adjacent to the river, such as Chinatown, have already been plagued by displacement, leading to hordes of longtime Angelenos being left homeless.
“A lot of people don’t know that Chinatown is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Many of our residents are one rent increase away from becoming homeless,” said Sissy Trinh, executive director of the Southeast Asian Community Alliance.
She added that in addition to Chinatown, other riverside communities have actually backed off from the idea of increasing parks and recreation near the river because residents fear it will exacerbate the growing problem of gentrification. .
Once the master plan is implemented, she predicted that real estate developers will likely take advantage of the beautification and real estate opportunities to buy multiple plots, build homes and commercial units, and charge dramatically high rents, pushing families, business owners and residents. out of these areas.
“We were in this place where we wondered, are we fighting [against] have nicer neighborhoods or do we accept that this is going to happen and we will just be kicked out? noted Trinh.
If the county approves the plan – it likely will – several projects outlined by LARMP will be set in motion. Despite concerns that revitalization efforts could harm vulnerable communities, LA Public Works is confident that the years of planning that have gone into the plan will address all community concerns.
“We explored areas of social, cultural and ecological disparity, including homelessness, gentrification, open public spaces, public health, and community and environmental inequalities in infrastructure,” said the director of public works. of the county, Mark Pestrella, who is also the chief engineer for the Los Angeles County Flood Control District. “The result is a plan that recognizes the river as a complex ‘system of systems’ in which people, places and the environment are encouraged to co-exist, mingle and thrive. (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)