Original Airdate June 18, 2014
SoCal Connected on KCET

In 1938, Los Angeles experienced a devastating flood that prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to step in and build concrete banks to form and transform what is now known as the Los Angeles River. Last month, the federal government gave the green flag on a $1 billion plan to restore an 11-mile stretch.

In this segment of "SoCal Connected," Cara Santa Maria interviews nearby residents, park rangers, and activists to find out how the new $1 billion revitalization project will impact nearby residential and wildlife communities.

In Elysian Valley, some residents believe that the project will bring more attention to habitat and wildlife restoration along the river. Others believe that the project will boost property values and generate more jobs.

But there are also concerns about the possibility of gentrification.

During a recent interview with KCET Departures, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed concerns surrounding the revitalization project. "Nobody's houses can be taken. Nobody can be kicked out of rent stabilized apartments close to the river. People in public housing won't be moved," he said.

Fernando Gomez, chief ranger of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, says he'd like to see more open recreation areas. "There's a lot of people who have been pushing for the revitalization...we're talking about moving concrete, making open space, and adding more waterways and more access for people to come and enjoy. That's what the plan is," he says.

The L.A. River is also considered a park space, according to Gomez.

"We treat it with the same rules, patrol it. Everything is treated like a park," he says.