Climate change can be a very disembodied concept for many Angelenos. I know from personal experience, but a spate of events has reminded me that, though I avoid it, the reality is clear and present.
A United Nations landmark report on climate change, released in September, puts the blame squarely on mankind for the drastic change in temperatures and weather disturbances over the past few decades. The report gives a 95 percent confidence that humans are the main cause of global warming.
More than just disappearing polar ice caps, climate change has far-reaching consequences, such as increased rates of allergies, diseases, and even death, as Los Angeles writer Linda Marsa explains in her new book, "Fevered: Why a Hotter Planet Will Hurt Our Health -- and how we can save ourselves."
Last night's rain dashed plans by Mayor Eric Garcetti to kayak part of the 51-mile Los Angeles River with the chief of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today.
A ranger deemed the water conditions unsafe due to the rain, so the mayor and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy instead took a 45-minute walking tour during which they discussed river restoration and revitalization efforts, mayoral spokeswoman Vicki Curry said.
City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, whose district includes the Los Angeles River, also was along for the tour.
The change in plans did not appear to put a damper on the EPA administrator's mood. Following the tour, McCarthy tweeted: "Great tour of LA river with (Eric Garcetti) and (Mitch O'Farrell). Real community progress, everyone working together."
The mayor, McCarthy and a representative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had planned to start at the 3-acre Marsh Park and spend half an hour paddling through the Glendale Narrows portion of the Los Angeles River.
The Glendale Narrows stretches nine miles through the Elysian Valley and is one of the few parts of the river that still has a natural "soft-bottom" that attracts fish, bird and other wildlife.
During a meeting last month in Washington, D.C., to discuss a river revitalization effort led by the Corps of Engineers, Garcetti invited McCarthy to tour the river with him, according to Curry.
Garcetti has thrown his support behind Alternative 20, a $1 billion Corps of Engineers plan to restore natural habitats along the river, and he hoped to show McCarthy a portion of the river that best represents what that plan would do, Curry said.
Most of the river was covered in concrete and turned into a storm water channel during the first half of the last century to guard against flooding.
The city has taken steps in recent years to reopen the river to the public and restore natural wildlife habitats alongside of it. This year, a 2.5- mile section of the Glendale Narrows was opened to recreational fishing, boating and kayaking.
Garcetti was also expected to point out bike and walking paths, park facilities and other revitalization measures along the river. After the river tour, McCarthy is scheduled to visit the Port of Long Beach and a recycling facility in Wilmington.
Anyone that tries to walk the streets of Warner Center in the San Fernando Valley area would instantly know that the streets are made with cars in mind. Large blocks fronted by massive buildings and sprawling parking lots easily deter pedestrians. "Warner Center was really developed as an auto-oriented suburban center," says Ken Bernstein, Principal City Planner at the Department of City Planning.
A new specific plan for Warner Center is looking to change that. Unanimously approved by City Council last month and now subject to the mayor's approval, the Warner Center 2035 Plan is looking to make the Woodland Hills area more walkable and pedestrian friendly. "The new 2035 plan would create a true downtown for San Fernando Valley," says Bernstein.
Warner Center is currently bounded by Vanowen Street to the north, the Ventura Freeway to the south, De Soto Avenue to the east, and Topanga Canyon Boulevard to the west. As part of proposed plan, Warner Center has expanded its boundaries north up to the south side of the Los Angeles River.
If you have not yet sent in your comments, this is your last chance to weigh in on the Los Angeles River Ecosystem Feasibility Study, or ARBOR Study. The public comment period closes next Monday, November 18. As you ponder what else our ecosystem in Los Angeles needs, we asked a few people to help close our series.
It was the promise of the future that prompted Los Angeles to look further afield.
A century ago, self-taught engineer William Mulholland dedicated the Los Angeles Aqueduct, described as the most ambitious engineering project since the Roman times, with the now-familiar words, "There it is. Take it!"
Having not been there that day, I've always thought the words held some sort of vitriol, as if the gargantuan effort Mulholland had undertaken had also taken its toll on his soul. I would have felt the same knowing that for the price of a fledgling Los Angeles's future, I might be putting the Owens Valley's destiny on a more miserable path.
Despite any imagined misgivings or regrets Mulholland might have had, the Los Angeles Aqueduct did fulfill its promise. By carrying water more than 230 miles from the eastern Sierra Nevada, where the Owens River collected runoff and deposited it to Owens Lake, to the city, Los Angeles has grown in leaps and bounds, more than what it would have relying just on the Los Angeles River. For $23 million, in 1905 citizen-approved dollars, the Aqueduct became the lifeblood of Los Angeles, pumping in 313 million gallons of water per day, shooting the growth of Los Angeles from 102,000 people to 577,000 in 1920.
Two weeks to go before comments close on the Los Angeles River Ecosystem Feasibility Study, or ARBOR (Alternative with Restoration Benefits and Opportunities for Revitalization) Study. With the clock ticking down, we continue to garner thoughts from those working along the river on how this could affect Los Angeles.
RAC Design Build's proposal to turn the steel portion of the Riverside-Figueroa bridge (a City Historical Cultural Monument) into an elevated park, similar to New York's much-lauded High Line, has up until this point met with enthusiasm, or at the very least open-minded curiosity in the community.
"I love the idea," said David De la Torre, chair of the Elysian Valley Neighborhood Watch, over the phone, "I think it would be a welcome addition to the recreational efforts in the community."
The comments reveal tellingly public opinion on the more expansive Alternative 20. All the comments given were in support of this more than $1-billion option. Watch the full proceeding in this recording.
Less than a month is left to make your thoughts known. With the clock ticking down, we continue to garner thoughts from those working along the river on how this could affect Los Angeles.
Over 3,000 people participated in this summer's pilot recreational zone in Glendale Narrows, according to Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) Chief Ranger Fernando Gomez, as he addressed community members who showed up for the town hall meeting on the recreational zone held a day after the government shutdown.
People who enjoyed the recreational zone included kayakers with the MRCA's two accredited vendors L.A. River Kayak Safari and L.A. River Expeditions; those who went down to the river on their own; participants with disabilities who joined the MRCA's ADA kayaking program; plus local youth and residents who availed of the free paddle night programs.
No major incidents occurred during the whole program, thanks in no small part to the MRCA's Rangers who patrolled above and beyond their duty hours. "We patrolled the heck out of this river," said Gomez. The rangers invested more than 1,000 man hours on patrol, for which they requested no additional funding, according to Gomez.
As the ARBOR study continues to be scrutinized by the public, more river-related events have popped up, perhaps in an effort to open more eyes to this historic waterway. A public presentation on the ARBOR Study will be held tonight, Thursday, 5:30 p.m. at the L.A. River Center and Gardens.