When working on long-term challenges, there never seems to be a time to stop and celebrate. On October 12, a breakfast gathering to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the city's Ad Hoc Committee on the Los Angeles River may have been the rare occasion when the city took its time to take stock of how far it has come in saving its historic waterways.
At the beginning, the City Hall rotunda was flanked by booths manned by city and community groups working toward the revitalization of the Los Angeles river. They included the City of Los Angeles Stormwater Program, Friends of the Los Angeles River, Heal the Bay, the River Project, and Save L.A. River Open Space.
Remarks from First District Councilmember Ed Reyes (who heads the ad hoc committee and recently presented with a park named in his honor), Councilmember Tom La Bonge, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard and California State Senator Kevin de León gave the audience a glimpse of how much perception and public support around the Los Angeles River has changed.
But perhaps the most telling of all presentations was Reyes' City Council presentation detailing the milestones of each year of the Ad Hoc Committee's existence.
Here's a refresher:
As the presentation went on, it gradually became clear that the Los Angeles River has gone beyond being a forgotten concrete-encased waterway. But there's a lot more that still needs to be done. In the coming weeks, as Reyes reminded the audience, City Council will be reviewing the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan, which re-zones 660-acres of land within Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park and Chinatown,
In a decade, the Los Angeles River has become a rallying ground for Angelenos looking to reclaim a part of their history and revitalize their ecosystem. The river, once neglected, is now a subject of multiple layers of government partnerships that span from federal down to local government levels.
As various City Council members stood to give their speeches, it became clear that much of the government push came from Councilman Reyes himself. Given his and the Ad Hoc river committee's achievements over the years, one can't help but wonder: what comes after Reyes steps down in his third and final term? Have the issues around the river gained enough momentum that it could survive without government push?
Undoubtedly, there has never been more interest around the Los Angeles river than it has now. One only need look at the fast-selling tickets to kayak the river or the ongoing projects on the riverbanks to know that more good things will surely still come.
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