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Assembly Bill Seeks Revitalization Plan for Lower L.A. River

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L.A. River in Long Beach | Photo: Payton Chung/Flickr/Creative Commons

The hotspot of Los Angeles River revitalization is unquestionably the 11-mile corridor of Glendale Narrows, the focus of the billion-dollar (or more) project still working its way through the funding process as of this writing. But the river is more than just that stretch within the city of Los Angeles, as covered in the city's Los Angeles River Revitalization Masterplan.

A bill introduced February, to be discussed at the end of this month in the Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife, seeks to authorize the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency to appoint, in coordination with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, a local working group to develop a revitalization plan for the Lower Los Angeles River, called the Lower Los Angeles River Working Group.

"Much of the Lower L.A. River basin has not been developed to include open and accessible green space. This has been a disservice to residents of the area, many of whom are low-income and Spanish-speaking and deserve the opportunity to interact with the river that flows through their communities," says Anthony Rendon, 63rd District Assemblymember, who introduced the bill. Rendon represents Lakewood, Paramount, part of Long Beach, and six other cities in Southeast Los Angeles County.

The words "Los Angeles River Master Plan" usually conjures up images of the city's River Revitalization plan, but a decade before the city's plan was finalized in 1989, former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley had already set up the first task force to look at the restoring the river. The Lower Los Angeles River was included in the original 1996 County master plan and included some projects that included river access, but the city's plan (which leaves out the lower Los Angeles River) has overshadowed this initial framework.

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"The City of Los Angeles has done a great job of creating a revitalization plan and investing considerable resources into restoring the portions of the L.A. River that flow through its borders -- primarily the Upper River. Work on the Lower River, much of which falls in L.A. County and Army Corps of Engineers jurisdiction, has lagged behind," says Rendon. "My goal is to create a unified voice and collaboration for the lower Los Angeles River." Rendon has already secured the support of Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis.

Now is a great time to bring up the Lower Los Angeles river's future, according to Rendon. In 2014, California voters approved water bond Proposition 1, which allocated $100 million for the L.A. River, presenting those living riverside with an opportunity to decide specifically how the funding is appropriated.

If the bill passes, a master plan for the Lower Los Angeles River would entail an extensive process, much like the creation of the city's Los Angeles's Revitalization Master Plan, which was launched 2005 but only adopted it in 2007.

Rendon says that this working group would also include agencies and organizations like San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy (RMC), the county of Los Angeles, Gateway Cities Council of Governments, and non-profits serving that area of the Los Angeles River. Most important of these is including the constituents of the Los Angeles River. Rendon says, "I plan on working closely with all stakeholders to ensure our community's voices are heard and play a large role in the Lower River restoration plan. Community input is key for this entire process to succeed, and it is important to me that our residents have a seat at the table."