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 »

A poison pen letter to a spraypainting fool at the Los Angeles River Walk

October 5, 2011 § 7 Comments

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For N.D.

Dear Man-Boy of Atwater,

Apparently your parents and neighbors are afraid of you, and your friends are probably as big assholes as you.  You are clearly overdue to be cornered in a dark alley  by a small army of cantankerous grannies, or the bad Vampire Slayer, or Batman.  Hope you meet your destiny soon.  Why you had to take a big crap on a significant park project, a signature landscape tying in a small naturalized creek to the blooming Los Angeles Riverwalk at North Atwater Park, before it’s even done is beyond me.  Maybe you don’t want your neighborhood to get any nicer, you don’t want your little brother or sister (or godforbid you have a child) to feel safe playing at the L.A. River.  You can’t stand the site of anything beautiful, crafted?  You drive up the costs of maintaining a decent environment, bring despondency to those who dedicate their lives to making Los Angeles livable, drive the undecided to believe that locking down our public spaces is the only way to manage land, and, yes, breathe oxygen into the fire of anti-government goons who see failure in all efforts to improve our lives through the expenditure of tax dollars.  You may be a punk, but you’re not punk rock.

So check yourself, pendejo.  We can see you know how to form letters, spell even, so eff’ing go out there and read.  Learn something.  Become somebody worth hearing from.


la Creekfreak

P.S. LA River + Atwater peeps, contact your council offices to let them know you want them to step up graffiti removal, park patrols, and general dickhead abatement.  They need to know this is a priority for you.

P.P.S. Did you know it’s been scientifically proven that the size of your letters are inversely proportional to your – well, never mind.







Processes of becoming: water and wastewater in some Northwest urban landscapes

October 2, 2011 § 4 Comments

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Last week I spent time in a city where rivers and streams are so much a fabric of the culture, they are a character in public life, possibly even approaching equals along with salmon, Microsoft, clearcut forest, and eagles… « Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Santiago Creek in Orange County

September 26, 2011 § 6 Comments

Santiago Creek, view downstream just east of the intersection of Chapman Avenue and the 55 Freeway in the city of Orange. 55 Freeway bridge is at the left edge of the photo. Bike path under construction runs along the far (north) side of the creek.

I spent quite a bit of time in Orange County earlier this year. A bit of that time I spent enjoying tooling around on a bicycle exploring Santiago Creek, a tributary of the Santa Ana River. I shared a little of this in an earlier post specifically about the Santiago Street Bridge over Santiago Creek (and there are earlier L.A. Creek Freak pieces about Santiago Creek here and here.) Today I’ll post more of the images from my explorations – all from July 2011.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Bike Ride on the San Luis Rey River

July 20, 2011 § 2 Comments

Rex on the San Luis Rey River bike path in Oceanside

Last week, my friend Rex and I bicycled from San Clemente to Oceanside… where we stumbled onto the San Luis Rey River and biked up its 7.2 mile San Luis Rey Trail bike path. I confess that I don’t know a lot about the San Luis Rey River, and most of the San Luis Rey’s flow wasn’t all that visible in the thick riparian foliage… willows, sycamores, and more… but there’s plenty of good information online regarding its watershed« Read the rest of this entry »

When a tree falls in Hollenbeck Park

July 13, 2011 § 8 Comments

In my work with CicLAvia, I’ve been enjoying passing the time sometimes in Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights. It’s a great historic park in a great historic neighborhood, well-loved by the community… both community and park have been degraded by freeways… but both community and park are hanging in there doing all right.

I forget when I first became aware of it, but I was kinda fond of this tree, leaning over the lake at Hollenbeck:

Lakeside sycamore tree at Hollenbeck Park - August 2010

After Sunday’s CicLAvia group ride, I noticed the tree wasn’t there:

Lakeside sycamore stump at Hollenbeck Park - July 2011

(sorry I didn’t quite succeed in getting exactly the same angle on my before and after shots.)  « Read the rest of this entry »

Army Corps seeks public input for LA River boating program

June 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here’s your chance to weigh in on boating the LA River. Thanks to Lupe Vela at the City of Los Angeles for forwarding the following notice:


The U.S.  Army Corps of Engineers has issued a public notice  to inform the general public that the Los Angeles District of the Corps has received a request to access the Los Angeles River in the Sepulveda Basin for a pilot non-motorized boating program along with permission to charge a fee.  The Corps will evaluate the proposed action along with reasonable alternatives and modifications, under the National Environmental Policy Act ( NEPA) through an Environmental Assessment (EA). The Corps has made a preliminary determination that an Environmental Impact Statement is not required. The Corps will consider compliance with other laws, including the Endangered Species Act, in conjunction with this analysis.

Public Comment Period: June 17- 30, 2011- all comments must be received by 6/30/11.

Tentative Boating Program Start Date: July 8, 2011

The following website will take you to the public notice and description of the proposed program:


All comments must be directed to Lisa Sandoval, U.S. Corps of Engineers, 915 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90017  Attn: Asset Management:

If you like more information on the lead organizer of the program, the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, please contact
Irene Lopez,    ilopez@lacorps.org
Yasmin Corona,  ymcorona@lacorps.org

If you like more information on the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, please contact:
Walt Young: walt.young@mrca.ca.gov

If you would like more information on the City of Los Angeles council motion on this issue, please contact

Lupe Vela:  lupe.m.vela@lacity.org

Congratulations to all for their hard work on this exciting program!

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