Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell is encouraging his constituents to weigh in on a study by the U.S, Army Corps of Engineers that could have a dramatic impact on the future of the LA River.
The LA River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study was released last Friday on the U.S. Army Corps website, and published on the City’s LA River website.
The study offers four restoration scenarios (Alternatives 10, 13, 16, and 20) with the US Army Corps recommending Alternative 13. The US Army Corps says this $453 million plan is the best option to restore nearly 600 acres of wildlife habitat. This alternative would require the City and its local partners to pay 69% of the total cost (approximately $313 million).
VIDEO: O’Farrell Urges Constituents to Weigh in on LA River Study
In August, Councilmembers O’Farrell and Gil Cedillo won the unanimous support of their colleagues on a motion that supported Alternative 20 - the most expansive plan in the study. The cost for the alternative is $1.08 billion.
This alternative would require the City and its local partners to pay 46% of the total cost (approximately $497 million) and would include significantly more channel terracing and restoration at two additional key areas—(1) the Verdugo Wash confluence on the eastern bank of the river near the City of Glendale (known as the “River Glen” opportunity area in the City’s 2007 LA River Revitalization Master Plan) and (2) the LA State Historic Park (former Cornfields site—also a City Master Plan priority) on the western bank in Downtown LA.
“The price tag may seem high until you consider what Alternative 20 will provide the City of Los Angeles,” said O’Farrell. “Though the U.S. Army Corps’ recommended alternative will adequately fulfill their “Principles and Guidelines Criteria,” it falls short of the more comprehensive habitat restoration of Alternative 20 -- which would also provide connections to the Elysian Hills and Verdugo Mountains.”
O’Farrell emphasized it is important for the public to understand that each of the study’s alternatives is considered a “best buy” option of the federal government, although the Corps’ stated preference comes down to cost efficiency. The organization is looking at the best “bang for the buck” in terms of nationwide taxpayer dollars.
Still, O’Farrell says that his constituents are the local experts and the ones that must now help make the case that the additional investment beyond Alternative 13 is worth it.
“My constituents are the ones that will be most directly affected by the choice,” said O’Farrell. “The restoration along 11 river miles or 22 miles of riverfront in the nation’s second-largest urban region will take place in communities that were divided by the river’s channelization and that have experienced subsequent environmental degradation resulting from it.”
O’Farrell points out that the environmental achievement in Alternative 20 should override economic efficiency.
“I can appreciate the U.S. Army Corps preferred plan as a near-term investment, however it does not go far enough,” said O’Farrell. “We have a chance for the federal government to change the LA River’s concrete channel in dynamic, sweeping ways; these changes are much less likely without federal leadership. Fundamentally, Alternative 20 shows the greatest single increase in habitat value and regional habitat connectivity—period. I want the best for our River and I know Angelenos do too.”
The Councilmember, who chairs the City’s Arts, Parks, Health, Aging, and Los Angeles River committee, posted a video on his YouTube channel, encouraging constituents to review the options and weigh in on the study.
Here is a summary of the benefits of each plan; for a comparison of them, see Chapter 6 of the study:
-A significant impact in Taylor Yard (Cypress Park and Elysian Valley) where the river channel would be widened by more than 300 feet.
-A significant restoration of the floodplain and freshwater marsh.
-Major tributary restoration on the east side of the river near the Arroyo Seco
-Creation and restoration of riparian corridors and marshes on both sides of the channel near Griffith Park
-Restoration of riparian habitat and historic wash at the Piggyback Yards in Lincoln Heights
-Includes all of the elements of 10,13, and 16, and also includes channel widening in Reach 2
-Restores the confluence with Verdugo Wash by softening the bed of the stream and significantly widening the wash thus providing riparian habitat and an additional connection to the San Gabriels through the Verdugo Hills.
-In Reach 7, daylighted streams are introduced rather than the channel bank features in Alternative 13. Also in Reach 7, wetlands are restored at The LA State Historic Park with a connection to the mainstem. 0
-In Alternative 20, the Study’s planning objectives are met with some degree of channel naturalization and restoration in nearly all reaches, and inclusion of two major confluences (Verdugo Wash bordering the City of Glendale, and the LA State Historic Park, near Chinatown).
The preliminary report will now be subject to a 45-day comment period (starting 09/20 and ending 11/05) before a final report is completed and a recommendation is sent to Congress. A public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 17, 2013, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., at the The Los Angeles River Center and Gardens Atrium, 570 W. Avenue 26, Los Angeles, CA 90065.
Please see lariver.org for instructions on how to file your comments, or feel free to comment below. The Councilmember will be sure your voice is heard!
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