RAC Design Build in Elysian Valley flowed with life on Saturday morning as more than a hundred community residents, activists, and river enthusiasts gathered for yet another milestone in the ongoing efforts to revitalize the L.A. River.
The Northeast Los Angeles Riverfront Collaborative's open house marked the release of its Vision Plan, the culmination of their 18-month effort to investigate and engage the riverfront communities of Atwater Village, Cypress Park, Elysian Valley, Glassell Park and Lincoln Heights. The Plan details the Collaborative's ideas for the future potential of a "Riverfront District" along the L.A. River, including revitalization and restoration efforts aimed at transforming the River into a community asset and an economic driver for the area. The Plan was shared with the public during a presentation led by NELA RC Project Manager George Villanueva and Gerardo Ruvalcaba from the City of Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department. You can download a copy of the vision plan here.
People of all ages and backgrounds attended the open house, from longtime residents and neighbors, to local business owners and curious visitors who stopped by from the river bike path.
Inside the spacious work space, the walls were lined with Ricardo Palavecino's framed portraits featuring the people of northeast Los Angeles. Nearly a dozen tables were set up for representatives of different organizations with an interest in the river, providing information about their hopes for the River to curious community members. Among the groups represented were KCET Youth Voices, Occidental College's Urban and Environmental Policy Institute, Los Angeles Conservation Corps, LA-Más, L.A. Metro Bike Program, L.A. River Revitalization Corporation and USC Metamorphosis.
Not everyone in the community was satisfied with the NELA RC's process to include the locals. During the Q&A portion of the event, some residents expressed their concerns that they were not included as part of the sample. Other concerns included fears of displacement caused by gentrification, the lack of a multilingual presentation, and that the proposed improvements may benefit wealthy commuters and tourists more than current residents.
Outside, two peaceful protesters posted signs along the railings of the river, claiming that the project did not protect the river's ecosystem, among other concerns. One man capitalized on the event, passing out flyers to reach a targeted audience for home improvement loans.
KCET Departures set up a kiosk outside to collect community responses toward the vision plan, and continue the process of engaging the community. Some of these responses can be seen below.
The NELA placemaking contest was one way for the community to become involved in planning the future of the Riverfront District. The winners of the contest were recognized and presented with certificates from the Mayor's office to acknowledge their accomplishment. Six winners were chosen from 37 project entries, with one winner in each neighborhood and one for NELA as a whole. More information about the winning projects and honorable mentions can be found here.
Keep track of the progress being made on the projects proposed by the Vision Plan with the progress report. Let us know what you think about the goals of the Vision Plan by leaving a comment.