News and Events – 12 November 2010

November 12, 2010 § 2 Comments

Spotted yesterday: pre-striping markings on the Elysian Valley segment of the L.A. River bike path. They're three short white lines in the foreground of this photo. Bike path officially under construction since mid-2009 officially opens on December 4th - announcement below, more details soon.


> The Daily Breeze reports that West Basin Municipal Water District’s desalination plant in Redondo Beach opens today, Friday November 12th 2010. Creek Freak Conner Everts “would like to see them do more conservation, reclamation, and then decide if they need a desal plant.”

> At Spouting Off, Heal the Bay’s Mark Gold reports on promising regional water board votes and efforts to reduce trash in local waters. See also HtB’s Ban the Bag rally below.

> Guess the animals and win a poster from L.A. Stormwater. Deadline is next Wednesday November 17th 2010.

> Will Campell bikes the Arroyo Seco and shoots another great riders-eye-view video.

> L.A. Times Greenspace looks into scary drinking water issues in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

> Congratulations to The City Project’s Robert García on being awarded the American Public Health Association’s Presidential Citation!


> Bike the Los Angeles River from Griffith Park to Long Beach this Sunday November 14th 2010, departing at 7:30am from the Autry Museum. Details at Biking in L.A.

> Heal the Bay invites you to a rally to Ban the Bag – at 8:30am on Tuesday November 16th 2010 supporting the L.A. County Board of Supervisors as they vote to ban plastic bags in county unincorporated areas. Check here for details.

> On Thursday, November 18th 2010 at 7pm, the Arid Lands Institute at Woodbury University presents Morna Livingston speaking on Steps To Water: The Ancient Stepwells of India. It’s part of the lecture series: Excavating Innovation: The History and Future of Drylands Design. The free public talk takes place at Fletcher Jones Auditorium, Woodbury University, 7500 Glenoaks Boulevard, Burbank 91510.

> On Saturday November 20th 2010 from 9am-1pm, the Elysian Valley Neighborhood Council, Council President Garcetti, and L.A. County Public Health host a free Health Fair. The event takes place at the Elysian Valley Recreation Center (1811 Ripple Street, L.A. 90039) and includes a free raffle for a new bicycle, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

> The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation is holding its monthly Ballona Wetlands Community Open House with tours Sunday November 21st from 9:30-1:00. Guided tours leave at 10am, 11am, and 12 noon. Meet at the Fiji Gateway, 1320 FIji Way in Marina del Rey 90292, across from Fisherman’s Village.

> On Sundays November 28th and December 5th 2010, Jenny Price leads the All-Valley L.A. River Thai Noodles & Cuban Sweets Tour. It goes from the start of the L.A. River in Canoga Park to Griffith Park, and includes the Great Wall of Los Angeles mural on the walls of the Tujunga Wash. Tours go 8:30am-4pm, click here for info and to sign up.

> At 12noon on Saturday December 4th 2010 the Elysian Valley portion of the L.A. River Bike Path will officially open. To emphasize the shared nature of the facility, it’s being called the L.A. River Pedestrian/Bike Path.  Creek Freak will post more event information here soon!!

> Duarte dedicates its Encanto Park Bioswale and Outdoor Nature Classroom on Tuesday December 7th 2010 at 9am. Encanto Park is located at 751 Encanto Parkway, Duarte 91010.

Ballona Wetlands Symposium - December 8th

> On Wednesday December 8th 2010 the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission will host a free public Ballona Wetlands Science and Research Symposium. It takes place from 8:30am-5:30pm at University Hall 1000, Loyola Marymount University, 1 LMU Drive, LA 90045. For info and to rsvp email Karina Johnston kjohnston [at]

Let There Be Light… Poles on the Elysian Valley Bike Path

September 9, 2010 § 5 Comments

New light pole (left) next to unofficial open access point (center) and locked official access point (right) at Elysian Valley Gateway Park

Sighted today along the river in Elysian Valley: new light poles! No actual lights yet, but it’s progress. The poles have been installed from around Riverdale Avenue to Fletcher Drive – about 3/4th of the new path segment. They’re so new that they’re not even unwrapped yet.

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Elysian Valley Bike Path Blues: Delays

July 27, 2010 § 18 Comments

NO ENTRY signs - on the Great Heron Gate at Fletcher Drive today


Over a year has passed since the June 29th 2009 groundbreaking for the city of Los Angeles’ L.A. River Bike Path through Elysian Valley. That day, speakers proudly announced that the 2.7-mile project would be completed in six to eight months – likely by December 2009, at the latest, maybe February 2010.   

L.A. Creek Freak is was pretty excited about the project. Before there was a creek freak blog, I was pushing for this project to be funded and to get built. Creek Freak wrote about the project’s tortured legal history and celebrated the city’s groundbreaking. We reported on closures, the new underpass and the new asphalt. Then it seems like the work kinda… slowed… down… and… maybe… stopped.    

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More Images of the Riverdale Green Street Project

May 27, 2010 § 4 Comments

Riverdale project under construction earlier this week

The city of Los Angeles’ Riverdale Avenue Green Street project is under construction. Creek Freak recently wrote about the project, and Kai Craig of California Eco Design commented, referring us to project renderings. Below is a photo gallery featuring those images and recent photos of the project nearly completed.

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Last Week’s L.A. River Brush Fire

April 13, 2010 § 1 Comment

Most of the in-channel vegetation burned was palm trees - a non-native invasive plant

The Eastsider, L.A. Times and ABC 7 scooped L.A. Creek Freak on this one. The Eastsider features an excellent blazing flames photo by Nicole Antebi – and there was apparently TV news footage aired, but I couldn’t find it online (if you find it, post the link in comments, please.) Last Wednesday April 7th, there was a brush fire that burned about a half-acre of vegetation in and along the Los Angeles River at Taylor Yard. My friend Jason and I saw the smoke while we were exploring the 7th Street Bridge.

The burn area is right near the end of the access road that goes to the Metrolink maintenance yards at Taylor Yard. (That unnamed road is off San Fernando Road at the downstream end of Rio de Los Angeles State Park.) Most of the fire was in the channel itself, mostly burning palm trees. It appears that it started buring in-channel vegetation, then spread to the vegetation along the access road along the top of the channel.

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Riverdale Avenue Green Street Under Construction

April 3, 2010 § 5 Comments

View of the Riverdale Green Street project under construction. Photo taken from the street-end mini-park, my back to the L.A. River

On my way home from leading a river walking tour for a Pomona College class, I was riding the newly-paved Elysian Valley Los Angeles River bike path (completely rideable, but not quite officially open… but since when do creek freaks wait for projects to be declared open?) I noticed that construction is underway on the Riverdale Avenue Green Street project. The Riverdale project retrofits an existing street to cleanse rainwater runoff before it enters the Los Angeles River. After the jump, there’s more information on the Riverdale Green Street scope, background and other juicy details.

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River visions from landscape architecture grad students

March 5, 2010 § 5 Comments

Bridges and attractions are part of this LA River design concept, the result of a playful workshop with urban planner James Rojas. Photo: J. Rojas

As many creekfreaks already know, the proposed high speed rail (HSR) line has made some LA River advocates nervous. Fortunately, the HSR folks, Army Corps, and City of LA have been meeting to discuss how best to address this future alignment while allowing the City to move forward with its ambitious river revitalization.

In the meantime, I thought I’d take the question to my graduate level landscape architecture design studio at Cal Poly. But why not go further, and challenge them to resolve all the infrastructure barriers between the river and communities: can the high speed rail be a means to this end?

The students have been examining the site, gathering data on hydrology, land uses, toxics, rail and road infrastructure, while also surveying the site by foot, car, and bicycle. It will be no surprise to you that they found electrical transmission towers, freeways, freight, metrolink, railyards, fences – and in the Elysian Valley, a dearth of bridges – isolating communities from the river and each other.

To kick off the design phase, back in February, urban planner James Rojas dropped by the studio to lead a hands-on workshop. Rojas, a planner with the Metropolitan Transit Authority, was teaching-by-example, letting the students be the “community” in a community design process where they use household objects to build abstract models that represent their sites – and also try out solutions to resolve the conflicts with infrastructure they were grappling with. The students gravitated to it naturally. A gentle murmur of intense focus and playfulness buzzed in the studio as students sifted through Rojas’ found objects, selecting mardi gras beads, wooden cubes, plastic hearts – whatever  objects spoke to the students’ interests and feeling of the site. In 20 minutes, all the students had models of the river or adjacent areas that needed design resolution and were able to describe their concepts in 2 minutes or less. And the designs were impressive: inventive, fun, light-hearted, and mostly feasible. It turned out that many students explored similar concepts in their models – land bridges over freeways or trains, waterworks varying from partial restorations of the river channel to daylighting stormdrains or creating canals, intricate bridge systems to provide multiple viewpoints, opportunities for mixed-use development, and wildlife connections. One project focused on the river as a theme park experience, with a bridge/slide, ferris wheel and aerial walkway. The consistency of solutions provides guidance towards the development of design concepts.

In the weeks that have followed, I’ve enjoyed watching my students develop their concepts – and come March 18, they will be presenting their final concepts to the public. Come on down, and share your thoughts about their work.

Final design review:     

Thursday March 18, 3-7pm
Atrium Room
Los Angeles River Center & Gardens
570 West Avenue 26, LA 90065

Thanks to James Rojas & Andrew Althorp for speaking to my class, and special thanks to Barbara Romero for helping us to reserve the atrium at the River Center!

New Elysian Valley Bike Path Getting Asphalt

January 30, 2010 § 9 Comments

Fresh new bike path asphalt behind the Great Heron Gate

The Los Angeles River Bike Path under construction through Elysian Valley is looking more and more complete. Biking past it at Fletcher Drive today, I saw the city’s contractor’s crews putting down its new dark black asphalt surface. The new surface replaces a worn and root-rutted old access road with various dips and cracks.

After the jump are more details about the bikeway construction schedule, and some observations bicycling along the river today.

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Bikeway Undercrossing at Fletcher Drive

October 30, 2009 § 12 Comments

LAR Fletcher cyclists 09Oct29 crop

Fletcher undercrossing isn't open yet, but some cyclists are already using it

This afternoon, I took these photos of the new segment of the Los Angeles River Bike Path under construction in Elysian Valley. Creek Freak has written about the history, the groundbreaking and the construction of this new 3-mile river bike path, due to open in early 2010.

The biggest infrastructural intervention in this project is the undercrossing at Fletcher Drive. I, of course, have to mention the wonderful historic Fletcher Drive Bridge, built in 1927. The rest of the stretch has long had a somewhat-bumpy access road already used by cyclists and pedestrians all the time. The basic concrete path is all complete at Fletcher. Follow this link for a photo of what it used to look like, and here’s how it appears today:

LAR Fletcher downstream 09Oct29

New undercrossing at Fletcher

I was glad to see that this strom drain outlet  (below Rattlesnake Park – a mini-park located on the south bank, immediately downstream adjacent to Fletcher – home of the Great Heron Gate) has been fixed. More than once I’ve seen folks slip and injure themselves walking across the sloped wet area here. Ouch! I shudder thinking about it. Now the drain runs under the dry flat bike path.

LAR Fletcher Drain 09Oct29

New stormdrain plumbing at Fletcher

Here’s a closer shot:

LAR Drain Close 09Oct29

Closer shot of the drain, with bike path surface more visible across center of image

There’s still a lot of work to go. The undercrossing will have lights and railing – and rest of the 3 miles will be resurfaced and striped. Here’s what the future bike path looks like facing downstream from Rattlesnake Park, toward the 2 Freeway:

Future bike path looking toward the 2 Freeway

Future bike path, looking downstream toward the 2 Freeway

Lastly, for all us creek freaks interested in bike paths, there’s one more public meeting on the city of Los Angeles’ draft bike plan update. The new draft plan calls for completing the Los Angeles River bike path and some other waterway paths… but as I read the plan, I am finding that it’s quite inadequate, especially regarding designated bike lanes on city streets. If you’re interested in learning about the L.A. Bike Plan and giving your input, come to the public meeting next Wednesday:

Bike Plan Update Public Meeting
Wednesday, November 4th 2009 6pm-8pm
Free – Refreshments – Spanish translation provided
Ramona Hall, 4580 N. Figueroa Street, LA 90042
Adjacent to Sycamore Grove Park in Highland Park
Very easy access from Metro Gold Line Southwest Museum Station – just go down the stairs and cross the street.
For more information call 213.473-7001

There’s also a county bike plan about to get underway, and draft bike plans for Pasadena and Burbank – both of which call for more creekside bike paths. Creek Freak will do some kind of bike plan round up soon!

L.A. River Bikeway Construction and Closure

August 7, 2009 § 2 Comments

Construction Closure Sign at Fletcher Drive

Construction Closure Sign at Fletcher Drive

Creek Freak brought you news earlier about the groundbreaking ceremonies on the Los Angeles River Bike Path segment through Elysian Valley. Today we sent our crack team of reporters and photographers out to the site to bring you the latest dirt on the project’s progress.

Some background for those of you who may be unfamiliar with this wondrous project: It’s cryptically officially known as the “Los Angeles River Bike Path Phase 1C” and unofficially known as the Elysian Valley segment of the Glendale Narrows river bikeway. Once complete it will extend about 3 miles from Fletcher Drive (which is kinda near the 2 Freeway) to Barclay Street (which is kinda near the 110 Freeway.) See a map of the future bikeway at the bottom of this earlier post. The project includes an undercrossing at Fletcher Drive.

Future Bike Path Construction - View downstream from Fletcher Drive Bridge

Future Bike Path Construction - View downstream from Fletcher Drive Bridge

The good news is that construction is underway. This afternoon crews were ripping up a swath of the river’s concrete walls just downstream of Fletcher Drive. The way they worked was interesting. First they had made a couple parallel concrete cuts at the edges of the trajectory of the path. The large bulldozer vehicle was cracking concrete, and the workers on foot ahead of it were using acetylene torches to heat and break rebar embedded in the concrete. There were huge piles of misshapen rebar piled up in Rattlesnake Park. Also oodles of “urbanite” – an excellent material to re-use by building passive water harvesting earthworks in one’s garden (though it’s best to urbanite without rebar.) I was tempted to get a few pieces just to say that I have L.A. River concrete in my yard. I didn’t… yet.

I was impressed with how much rebar is embedded reinforcing the concrete. Here’s a photo of pieces sticking out, just upstream of Fletcher, in an area where the rubble had already been cleared away:

Rebar sticking out of the Concrete River Walls

Rebar sticking out of the Concrete River Walls

Upstream of Fletcher, the crew had already started to build the forms for the future bikeway:

Wooden Forms for River Bikeway - Upstream of Fletcher Drive Bridge

Wooden Forms for River Bikeway - Upstream of Fletcher Drive Bridge

The bad news is that, due to construction, the bikeway there is currently closed. The closed area is a little further upstream than creek freak expected. A portion of the existing bike path (between Fletcher and Glendale Boulevard) currently is being used to accommodate construction staging and parking. As of this afternoon, the upstream bikeway is closed at Glendale Boulevard:

Bikeway Closure just upstream of the Glendale Hyperion Bridge

Bikeway Closure just upstream of the Glendale Hyperion Bridge

Downstream, the unofficial access road that serves daily as a bikeway is closed at the 2 Freeway. Today there were both a water truck and a “construction traffic only” sign blocking the bikeway there. Access points at Fletcher Drive are also closed. While it is possible to pass through the area by staying down at the bottom of the slope (that would be Down by the Los Angeles River, no?) If you try this please be very careful! There is a very slippery slimy slope area where a stormdrain lets out at Fletcher Drive – it’s very very slippery! Very dangerous!

Clearly as construction progresses on the project, the entire stretch through Elysian Valley will see construction closures, too. The project should be completed by January or February 2010.

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