LA Creeks and Golf Courses – flowing by the fairways

March 26, 2012 § 6 Comments

It seems as though there’s almost always a creek on golf courses in Los Angeles – be it natural, concrete or underground.  And having proposed daylighting and restoration projects at a number of our local golf courses, I was happy to see this article, A Stream Runs Through It, published in the Golf Course Industry online magazine, supporting the idea.  I have found that golf courses and streams can coexist, but too often golf courses alter the stream, pushing it over the edge of the property, constraining it in ways that destabilize it, removing habitat, etc.  The management problems are often quite predictable.  The opportunity exists to design a golf course with an understanding of stream habitat and function, leading to a richer golf experience, fewer maintenance issues, and habitat for that remaining 5-10% of LA’s waterways.  Streams can separate greens, but when they traverse greens, they can become part of the play in interesting ways.

A couple of golf course/restoration locations I’ve referred to in Creek Freak posts include  Devil’s Dip (I promise a post on just the golf course and restoration potential there in the near future but here’s a slide from Creek Freak’s recommendations to Mark Ridley-Thomas about it.) and South Pasadena Golf Course.

A famous creek/golf course is the Arroyo Santa Monica through the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Proposed Senate Bill to open up river access

March 4, 2012 § 2 Comments

Ready to ride the river?

I got a nifty email from Friends of the LA River Founder Lewis MacAdams the other day, informing rivvies of state Senate Bill 1201 that proposes to legalize access to the soft-bottom reaches of the L.A. River.  It will also create a Los Angeles River Interagency Access Council, which the Bill states is to

“coordinate the actions of state and local agencies with jurisdiction over, or otherwise involved in developing and administering public access and safety policies for, the Los Angeles River.”

It reclassifies natural-bottom flood channels as natural rivers, which is necessary to relieve local agencies of the responsibility (liability) for harm that occurs if someone is injured goofing around in “improved” rivers, er, flood channels.  I am really hoping this will open the potential for actual restoration of our concreted rivers as well – this liability being one of the big obstacles.  Maintaining flood capacity, of course, being the not-insurmountable other one.

You can download the Bill from the FOLAR webpage here.  Big props to FOLAR and UCLA’s Environmental Law Clinic who conceived of and drafted the bill.  And let Senator De Leon and his staff know how much you appreciate his efforts for moving this forward.

K bueno, no?

 

A tale of three wetlands

February 22, 2012 § 18 Comments

Image: City of Los Angeles

Los Angeles proudly unveiled a new 9-acre park in South Los Angeles featuring a wetland that, I’m told, taps into the stormdrain network.  And also receives tap water augmentation (although I don’t have the figures on how much).  This is a $26 million achievement funded via the City’s Proposition O.  The park helps to remediate not just stormwater but also a long-neglected imbalance in per capita park acreage for this South LA area compared with not only other areas of Los Angeles, but also compared to the city’s own planning standards. This constructed stormwater park is being celebrated in the media, here’s a few links:  LA Times, KCET, A/N Blog.  Everyone’s psyched to see a paved parking lot (bus yard) be turned into a natural paradise. « Read the rest of this entry »

A developer’s option could take the rio out of Rio de Los Angeles State Park

December 21, 2011 § 9 Comments

[Updated with corrected development costs.  Thanks to Melanie Winter at The River Project for the corrections.]

Things are about to get a little ridiculous over by the RIO DE LOS ANGELES State Park.  Because that whole Rio de Los Angeles part could potentially be blocked from that State Park part by a wall of industrial development.  Kids, come and play soccer over by this…well never mind.

Here’s the shortish explanation:  Anyone remember that huge battle to buy the Taylor Yards and create a vision for a riverside park(1,2), with the potential for eventual naturalization of the river along this largest underutilized brownfield parcel on the river?  We got 40 acres and developed parkland along San Fernando Road for something like $45 million, with another parcel (aka G2) between that and the river.  (We also got an 18-acre strip, G1, along the river further upstream for an additional $10.7m- A link to parcels and ownership is here.)  Parcel G2 (that really should be river floodplain) is up for grabs.   Developer Trammel Crow appears to be an interested buyer in G2, and is apparently talking industrial development.  Is this a ploy – common enough in local environmental conservation/acquisition efforts –  to up the property value with entitlements and re-sell to the City/State for a big return?  And who would take on remediation costs in such a scenario?  Who knows.  Why even let the situation get to that point?  Here’s a link to a petition, sponsored by The River Project, an organization that’s carried the Taylor Yard torch from early on, to Trammel Crow asking them to withdraw their interest in exercising their option to buy.  Phew, that’s a mouthful.  But hopefully correctly stated.

I’m a little confused why/if the City/State didn’t have an option to buy this parcel, and why “railbanking,” something the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy makes look so doable never seems to be so in LA.

Anyway…we need our developers to share our vision of a livable Los Angeles – and to put their resources towards making it happen.  This action seems like the wrong direction when visions of a Los Angeles living with natural processes is actually becoming chic.   This is even more humiliating when you see how Chicago has managed to coalesce around a really big vision of a 140,000 acre conversion of brownfields to wildlands.  (Yes, you just read 140,000.)  A higher quality of life supports multiple returns on investment, so what’s the big?

Some of Joe’s previous posts related to the Taylor Yards/Rio de Los Angeles State Park:

Demolition at the Taylor Yards

What’s the Plan

Touring Native Plantings at the Rio de Los Angeles State Park

New Solar Lighting on L.A. River Bikeway

December 2, 2011 § 6 Comments

New solar lighting (pole on left, with white sandwich board and cone at base) being installed on the L.A. River Bike Path. Glendale-Hyperion Bridge is in the background.

In mid-November, I spotted some new lights being installed along L.A. City’s stretch of L.A. River bike path. With the help of the city Department of Transportation’s Tim Fremaux and Department of Public Works’ Richard Lee, I have some background on the new lighting.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Hope takes the 3:10 to Yuma (and the lower Colorado River)

December 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Speaking of the lower Colorado River, check out this wonderful video giving some historical context, issues and hope:

Click on image for link to video.

The rebound of bird species is particularly notable with this restoration project, where the prior, degraded, condition included filled channels, disconnected wetlands, and a lack of natural flooding resulting in the loss of habitat diversity and a thicket of non-native species.  Reflecting on some local arguments, I see that a combo of hand labor and big machines were used, dredging for floodplains and re-establishment of channels.  Restoring flooding with “industrial style” restoration with adaptive management techniques might not always be so bad after all…

For more info, here’s a slide show and an article in the journal Ecological Restoration.

Thanks to Fred Phillips, a Flagstaff-based landscape architect, who shared this link about his work with me when I went to visit the Friends of the Rio de Flag earlier this year.

 

Occupy Wall Street – Creekfreak Edition, circa 1993

October 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

Taking the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street movement in a somewhat Creekfreaky direction, I thought I’d share a little piece from my past, when I was a grad student in architecture at Columbia University.  « Read the rest of this entry »

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