Northeast Los Angeles Placemaking Competition: Arroyo Seco Confluence Gateway
Project submitted by Arroyo Seco Foundation
Project design for entire NELA area
Project Summary and Scale
The Arroyo Seco Confluence Gateway is a NELA-wide open space project connecting the communities of the Northeast with each other and the broader region while providing opportunities for outdoor recreation, community gatherings, riparian habitat restoration, and celebrating the birthplace of the City of Los Angeles.
Why are you committed to this project?
The Arroyo Seco Foundation advocates the restoration of our urban waterways and values the Arroyo Seco Confluence as a unique site with incredible potential for habitat restoration and public open space. We have championed this and similar projects since the 1980s.
What are the most relevant characteristics of project site and scale?
The Confluence links the Los Angeles River to the historic, 22-mile Arroyo Seco stream and is the birthplace of Los Angeles. It is within walking distance of a Gold Line station and several MTA bus lines, and will soon be the southern terminus of the L.A. River Bike Trail. Environmentally, the surrounding neighborhoods are park poor and disproportionately industrial, and the Confluence is a unique hydrological feature offering restoration opportunities not present at other sites.
Describe how this project will reinforce a sense of place or enhance the built environment.
The Gateway will raise awareness of the Confluence as a historic site and celebrate an unduly neglected part of our city. Habitat restoration and green space will alleviate urban blight and reestablish natural processes, helping reconnect people with nature. The park will serve as a venue for community gatherings. The bike trail will be key in connecting NELA residents with the Gold Line and other neighborhoods, as well as the rivers: the Confluence is one of very few spots where you can touch the water, and the Gateway will reinforce the identity of our riverside communities.
Provide a description of the project's necessary planning activities.
The first step would be to strengthen community support for the project. All the land that the Gateway would occupy is publicly held, so strong outreach to the agencies holding the land would be necessary. Once this is secure, a series of community charrettes should be held in the NELA communities and organizations will need to reassess available funds for past Confluence park projects and seek additional funding if necessary.
What is a rough estimate of your project budget?
We estimate the cost of the Gateway will be $10 million, which covers the bike trail from Avenue 19 to Avenue 26, the land under the CA-110, and the parcel currently occupied by the City of Los Angeles' tree storage yard. The estimated cost of the bike trail from our 2008 Confluence Gateway Greenway Study is $2.6 million. In 2003, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy secured $7 million to complete their Confluence Park project, which the Gateway is partially based on. The first phase of that project, Confluence Plaza, was completed in 2011. Habitat restoration at the Confluence will be covered by the USACE's ARBOR Study.
How does this project leverage existing resources and efforts?
The Gateway extends Confluence Plaza, completed in 2011 as the first phase of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy's Confluence Park project. The Riverside-Figueroa Bridge reconstruction currently under construction extends the L.A River Bike Trail to the Confluence. The parcels we propose converting to parkland, the land under the CA-110 and the current site of the City's tree storage yard, are already planned to be converted to green space in the Cornfields Arroyo Seco Specific Plan. The Arroyo Seco Confluence itself is included in all of the US Army Corps of Engineer's proposed ARBOR Study alternatives. The bike trail's feasibility was studied in the Arroyo Seco Foundation's 2008 Confluence Gateway Greenway Study. Additionally, the Gateway will advance the goals of the L.A. River Revitalization Master Plan and the Historic Arroyo Seco Parkway Corridor Partnership Plan.
What community need is your project serving?
The Gateway enhances non-motorized and mass transit options for NELA residents. That with recreation space also promotes better public health. Food service in the park would provide local jobs, a quick lunch, and help to establish the Confluence as a community center. Lookout spots with views of the rivers and the Elysian Hills, native plant landscaping, and murals under the CA-110 bridge add aesthetic value. Informal surveillance by park users and new, low-energy municipal lighting will increase public safety.
If your project is realized, what does success look like?
Success is the Confluence becoming a destination, not just touristically, although it does deserve a spot on any tour tracing the history of Los Angeles, but to the local community. It becomes a site for public gatherings, and also a place to meet friends, relax, and enjoy being outdoors. It becomes a regular part of peoples lives as the travel around and a destination for class field trips looking to illustrate the history of our region.