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Los Angeles River Plan Unveiled

The Los Angeles River is concrete-lined for most of its length, but shrubs and willow trees persevere in this flowing portion called the Glendale Narrows--located near Griffith Park.

Plans for a 40-acre park along the Los Angeles River have been unveiled as the first phase of a large-scale effort to revitalize the 32-mile concrete-lined waterway.

The Rio de Los Angeles State Park will cost an estimated $17.5 million and is expected to be complete by March 2007. The park will feature several tennis and basketball courts; outdoor fields for baseball and soccer; an outdoor amphitheater and a natural wildlife habitat.

A task force that includes L.A. city councilman Ed Reyes and Denver landscape architect Bill Wenk continue to work on a master plan for the river's long-term transformation. Mia Lehrer + Associates is the landscape architecture firm assigned to the project. The $3 million master plan is scheduled to be complete by January, 2007.

The river drains a huge portion of the San Gabriel Mountain and the Los Angeles basin and can become a raging torrent during Southern California's winter rainy season. The Army Corps of Engineers retains veto power over any changes that compromise flood control.

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The river's concrete-lined channel is "a brilliant piece of engineering but it was built for a single use, and this is a broader vision," Wenk told the L.A. Times in March.

“This will be one of the large, large gems in the emerald necklace that we hope to create along the Los Angeles River,” Ruth Coleman, director of state parks, said of the state park plan.

The city’s long-term plan envisions restoring most of the river to a more natural state and adding park space and development along the banks over 20 to 30 years.

On April 20, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said she will introduce a bill that would require the Army Corps of Engineers to work with the city to develop a plan to remove graffiti along the concrete banks and restore wetlands, natural habitat and water flow.

Boxer said she would seek $80 million in matching funds for projects to revitalize the Los Angeles River.

Boxer’s proposed bill would also require recreational opportunities be provided and improved flood control projects.

“I think we’re going to use everything we can use to bring attention to this project,” Boxer said. “It’s a project that just focuses us on our future, on hope for our children and our families.”

On April 21, the California Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by a coalition of 21 cities that challenged a trash reduction program for the Los Angeles River.

The program requires the cities, Los Angeles County and others to reduce trash through enhanced street sweeping, litter law enforcement, nets at the end of storm drains, and trash capture devices.

“This decision reaffirms the water boards’ ability to require programs that actually improve water quality,” State Water Board Chair Tam Doduc said. “The results will be cleaner streams, rivers and beaches.”

On May 6, the Friends of the Los Angeles River hold an annual cleanup day at a dozen locations along the river's length.

Sources: San Jose Mercury News, Los Angeles Times, City of Los Angeles, Friends of the Los Angeles River (

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June 16, 2019, 10:35 pm PDT

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