The L.A. River originally ran freely along an alluvial floodplain in what is today the City of Los Angeles. Destructive flooding plagued the region in the 1930s, leading to the Army Corps of engineers to line most of the river with concrete as a mechanism for flood control.
In 1989, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley set up the first task force to look at restoring the river by developing a framework for managing the river for values other than flood control, including public trust uses like wildlife and parks. In 1996, the County of Los Angeles adopted the L.A. River Master Plan, which included limited restoration funding.
Since then, the City of Los Angeles adopted its own Revitalization Master Plan focusing on the river within city limits, but leaving out the Lower River that is not in the city's jurisdiction.
Green spaces and community parks play a vital role in the quality of life for urban individuals and neighborhoods. Multiple studies have shown that communities with natural spaces have significantly reduced health risks, including lower rates of cancer, asthma and obesity. A restored Lower River would provide communities of the Southeast an opportunity to reap these benefits.
The Right Time for Restoration
For many years, the City of Los Angeles has created a revitalization plan and invested 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.
In 2014, voters approved Proposition 1, the state water bond that allocated $100 million for the L.A. River, including for the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy which has responsibility for the Lower River.
AB 530: Updating the L.A. River Master Plan
In 2015, Governor Brown signed Assemblymember Rendon's Assembly Bill 530, which authorizes the creation of a local working group to develop a Lower River revitalization plan. Utilizing water bond funds, the Lower River plan will update the L.A. River Master Plan, beginning a conversation about how the entire river watershed can be managed collaboratively.
The working group's goal is to create a robust restoration plan that lays the groundwork for a revitalized Lower L.A. River that connects residents to the river that flows through their communities.
Now is the time for you to help reimagine the entire L.A. River as an environmental resource for all of Los Angeles County. Help make the River a community resource for parks and green space.
Appointments to the working group are made by the Secretary of Natural Resources in coordination with the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, providing the group both local and state perspectives. Assemblymember Rendon along with L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis have committed to working closely with all stakeholders to ensure the residents of Southeast L.A. County have a seat at the table.
Development of the Lower River revitalization plan will draw on the work of world-renowned architect Frank Gehry as a foundation of information for the working group's effort.
Have ideas about restoring the L.A. River? Leave feedback for Assemblymember Rendon here.
Lower LA River Working Group
The Lower Los Angeles River "Working Group," created by AB 530 (Rendon), has set out on the path to develop a revitalization plan for the Lower LA River, as the City of LA developed for the Upper River in 2007.
In 1996, the County of Los Angeles adopted a "Los Angeles River Master Plan" for the entire Los Angeles River (the River). In 2007, the City of Los Angeles completed a "revitalization plan" for the Upper LA River within the City’s boundaries. (The City completed its revitalization plan in 18 months, after spending $3 million.) After 20 years, the County plans to update its Master Plan, and draw on the work of the Lower LA River Working Group.
State funding for revitalizing the Los Angeles River is available from the 2014 California Water Bond, which included $100 million for the River. The bond authorized funding for both the Upper River and the Lower River. The 2015-16 State Budget did not appropriate any of this water bond funding, so the Assembly Budget Committee recently proposed a 50-50 split between the Lower and the Upper River for revitalization.
AB 530 Creates Working Group
AB 530 requires Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird to appoint, in consultation with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, a local working group to develop a "revitalization plan" for the Lower Los Angeles River watershed:
- The revitalization plan will address "the unique and diverse needs" of the Lower LA River watershed, which include water quality.
- The revitalization plan will be consistent with and designed to enhance the County’s Master Plan for the entire river.
- The Lower River "watershed" includes the Rio Hondo and Compton Creek.
- The Rivers and Mountains Conservancy will staff the Working Group, and is eligible for State funding from the water bond.
- Deadline for Lower River plan is March 1, 2017, but the Assembly is considering a request to extend the deadline to February 2017.
Help Your Community Engage
Now is the time for you to help reimagine the entire Los Angeles River as an environmental resource for all of Los Angeles County. Help make the River a community resource for parks and green space.
As the Working Group gets underway, they will get support and assistance from technical advisors and stakeholders. Through the leadership of Supervisor Hilda Solis, the County of Los Angeles has agreed to organize and support LA River advocates and experts in advising the Working Group. Supervisor Solis and Assemblymember Rendon appreciate that the work of the advocates and experts will require a significant time commitment.
Development of the Lower River Revitalization Plan will need the support and engagement of all the communities in the Los Angeles River watershed. The County plans to update its Master Plan, based in part on the Working Group’s ideas. Planning also will draw on the work of world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, whose ideas and information provide a foundation for revitalization of the entire Los Angeles River.
AB 530 Working Group Members
|Businesses, Chamber of Commerce||Efren Martinez|
|City of Bell||Councilmember Ali Saleh|
|City of Bell Gardens||Councilmember Pedro Aceituno|
|City of Cudahy||Councilmember Baru Sanchez|
|City of Downey||Councilmember Sean Ashton|
|City of Huntington Park||Mayor Graciela Ortiz|
|City of Long Beach||Councilmember Al Austin|
|City of Los Angeles||Carol Armstrong|
|City of Lynwood||Councilmember Aide Castro|
|City of Maywood||Councilmember Eduardo De La Riva|
|City of Paramount||Councilmember Gene Daniels|
|City of South Gate||Mayor Jorge Morales|
|City of Vernon||Alex Kung|
|Council for Watershed Health||Chris Solek|
|East Yards Communities||Mark Lopez|
|Friends of the LA River||William Preston Bowling|
|From Lot to Spot||Viviana Franco|
|Gateway Cities Council of Governments||Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia|
|Gateway Water Management Authority||Christopher Cash|
|Heal the Bay||James Alamillo|
|Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition||Tamika Butler|
|Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust||Alina Bokde|
|Long Beach Conservation Corps||Dan Knapp|
|Los Angeles Conservation Corps||Dore Burry|
|LA County, Office of Supervisor Hilda Solis, 1st District||Teresa Villegas|
|LA County, Office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, 2nd District||Karly Katona|
|LA County, Office of Supervisor Don Knabe, 4th District||Julie Moore|
|Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board||Irma Muñoz|
|Prevention Institute||Manal Aboelata|
|Public Counsel||Christina Giorgio|
|Rio Los Angeles||Maria Camacho|
|Office of the Speaker of the Assembly, Anthony Rendon, AD 62||Raul Alvarez|
|The Nature Conservancy||Jill Sourial|
|Trust for Public Land||Tori Kjer|
|Trails for All||Jim Meyer|
|Urban Waters Federal Partnership||Pauline Louie|
|Watershed Conservation Authority||Debbie Enos|
|Watts Reimagined||Frank O'Brien|
|Water Replenishment District||Willard H. Murray|