Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Los Angeles River Cooperation Committee Chooses First Project

Monday January 10th marked the first meeting of the newly reorganized Los Angeles River Cooperation Committee, comprised of representatives from the City of Los Angeles Engineering Office/LA River Office, Bureau of Sanitation, Recreation & Parks Dept as well as the Watershed Management and Water Resources Divisions of the LA County Flood Control District. The US Army Corps of Engineers participates as a non-voting member.

Committee Co-Chair Gary Lee Moore, of the LA Engineering Office, presided over a full agenda and a packed house, including community representatives from Friends of the Los Angeles River, Northeast Trees, Silver Lake Conservancy, Native Plant Society, and the LA Fire Department Search and Rescue Division.

Two major topics dominated this meeting: First, regional representatives of the California High Speed Rail Authority (HSR) gave an informative update on HSR alignment crossing the Los Angeles River along three vital segments: Los Angeles Union Station to Palmdale (which also affects the Los Angeles River-Arroyo Seco Confluence), Los Angeles Union Station to Anaheim, and Los Angeles Union Station to San Diego. The southern route designs currently look at trestle bridging over the LA River, but of the 4 designs proposed through downtown northward through the Taylor Yard right of way, three now are tunneling options, where the trains would run 70 feet under the Los Angeles River. Design 4 which tunnels under the River and exits at the surface near the 2 Freeway and Fletcher Drive was a new proposal and finally one from HSR that seeks to complement rather than compete with LA River restoration activities in Cypress Park near the Rio de Los Angeles State Park and the new LAUSD high school.

The second top item was the presentation by Tori Kjer of the Trust for Public Land (TPL) on the LA River and Aliso Creek Confluence Project in the west San Fernando Valley, which creates a riverside greenway on a Los Angeles Department of Water & Power easement and a portion of a vacated street east of Wilbur Avenue and Kittridge Street. This project, which has already received partial grant funding, was unanimously approved by the Committee as its first project.  This project also includes the Rivers & Mountain Conservation Authority (RMCA) as a partner.

Other river projects underway incudes the Headwaters Project on Owensmouth Avenue in the West San Fernando Valley and the North Valleyheart Riverwalk in Studio City.

Committee member activity reports included the following:

USACE - There will be a federal site visit within the next couple weeks along the Ecosystem Restoration Study area of the LA River. The Corps will also be having a 'sweet spot' workshop with High Speed Rail in the new few weeks to work out final alignments along the River.

LA River Office - North Atwater Park and the Elysian Valley Bikeway both had successful groundbreaking and dedication ceremonies, respectively. Omar Brownson has been named as new Executive Director of the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation. There will be a public River Update meeting at 6:30pm on February 10th in Reseda, location to be announced. This year's Mayor's Day of Service on March 12th will focus solely on the LA River and project ideas should be sent to Carol Armstrong.

Bureau of Sanitation - The Low Impact Development Ordinance was approved by the LA City Council and is now at the City Attorney's office for review. The groundbreaking occurred for a new green alley at Vineland Avenue and Burbank Boulevard, which will recapture enough groundwater to serve 60 homes annually. The Avenue 19/Humboldt Pocket Park Stormwater Capture project is underway. A blighted alley in South LA at Manchester and Figueroa is being converted to a green groundwater project in cooperation with Caltrans. All these projects are efforts to comply with the TMDL Implementation Program.

Other updates included:

The proposed LA-Rio (Los Angeles River Improvement Overlay) Ordinance is now out of the City Attorney's office and back in Planning, where significant revisions are likely to comply with other recent ordinances including the Green Streets and LID Ordinances.

There will be no LA River federal advocacy trip to Washington this year. However, the Committee is hoping to hold meetings with local Congressional leaders and perhaps State legislators in March.

Proposed topics for the next meeting, scheduled for Monday, April 4th at 1:00pm include an update from the County on the Sediment Removal Plan and a request from FOLAR on River access. This meeting will be  held at the LA County Dept of Public Works, 900 S. Fremont Avenue, Alhambra, in the conference center there.

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