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L.A. River 'Crown Jewel' Parcel Purchase on the Horizon

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Though previous budgets set aside for the G2 Parcel purchase had been deprioritized in favor of other projects last year, it seems there is a determination to acquire the last remaining parcel of land in the Taylor Yard rail complex, which has been owned by Union Pacific since the early 1900s.

"This parcel is a crown jewel in our plans to restore the Los Angeles River, and I'm proud to have made acquisition of it a top priority for the city," said Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement. "This site represents a large amount of open space that will help us free the river from its concrete straight jacket and connect local communities to its natural beauty."

At the start of August, an announcement went out to the public notifying them of the city's intent to declare a possible project on the Taylor Yard G2 parcel as environmentally sound. Called a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND), the notice asks the public to comment for or against this proposal within thirty days. If there is no opposition, then the project will move forward in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process, which the city must complete in order to purchase the G2 Parcel property.

All this signals a serious attempt to finally secure this elusive 41-acre piece of land in the vicinity of the Los Angeles River on 2070 North San Fernando Road in Cypress Park.

"For many years, the community has advocated for its acquisition to connect Rio de Los Angeles State Historic Park to the river. We have a chance to do that now," says Carol Armstrong, Director of the Bureau of Engineering's L.A River Project Office. "Given that, we hope that the public remains supportive of its acquisition." The 30-day public review ends September 2.

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The notice outlines the city's intent for the land in broad strokes. According to the notice, the city is looking to build a project that would help improve water quality in Los Angeles via a two-phase project. The first phase would demolish all above-ground structures and remediate 10 acres of the land for recreational purposes. This 10-acre portion is intended for a Proposition O project, which might have bioswales and bio-rentention areas. It would also develop wetlands that double as habitat for wildlife along the Los Angeles River. The remaining 31 acres will be remediated for industrial use in preparation for Phase 2, where the city and Angelenos would decide how best to use the property.

Matias Farfan, Assistant Chief Legislative Analyst (CLA) for the city, says the project is now geared to be a clean water project, similar to the ones the Bureau of Engineering has been implementing recently. It is not yet elevated to a full-fledged River project where Angelenos might see removal of concrete. The city is waiting on an Army Corps of Engineer report on the G2 Taylor Parcel, which would outline such more ambitious plans.

Right now, however, the city is in negotiation with Union Pacific. Not much is known about the terms of the negotiations, but last December, a report was released that outlined land acquisition options for the parcel. Among the four options, Option 1A found most favor. That option names a $26 million figure for land acquisition and an additional $49 million for remediation and other improvements.

Sources of funding for such an acquisition still has to be identified, according to Farfan. It is part of CLA's duties to identify those sources of funding and present it to the City Council and then the Mayor for approval. The CLA hopes to present that report by the end of September.

Armstrong has indicated that City is intending to use local Proposition O funds for the acquisition. Proposition O was passed by the voters in 2004 as the Clean Water, Ocean, River, Beach, Bay, Stormwater cleanup measure.

The City may have put its game face on when it comes to purchasing the G2 parcel, but should negotiations or finding funding sources fail, developer Trammell Crow still has the option to purchase this piece of land.

Read the full initial study here. Email your comments on the proposed G2 Taylor Yard project to shokoufe.marashi@lacity.org by September 2. Please put "Taylor Yard Project" in the subject line.

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