Public meetings to protect LA streams

September 21, 2008 § Leave a comment

If you love LA creeks, or love the idea of LA’s creeks (maybe you haven’t met a local creek yet), the City of LA needs to hear from you! Please attend a public meeting about stream protection:

September 23, 7pm – Sherman Oaks Galleria, 15301 Ventura Blvd. LA 91403 Community Room on the first floor in the Rotunda. (SF Valley, LA Council District 5)

September 24, 7pm – Paul Revere Charter Middle School, 1450 Allenford Ave. LA 90049. (Pacific Palisades, LA Council District 11)

October 1, 7pm – Westwood Recreation Center, 1350 S. Sepulveda Blvd, LA 90025(Westwood area, LA Council District 5)

October 10, 1:30pm – Los Angeles City Hall, Public Works Board Room (3rd Floor), 200 North Spring Street, LA 90012. (Downtown, LA Council District 9)

October 15, 7pm – Marvin Braude Constituent Service Center, 6262 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, 90049. (SF Valley, LA Council District 6) *corrected address*

*NEW MEETING added* 

October 22, 7pm – LA River Center and Gardens, 570 West Avenue 26, Suite 200, LA 90065. (Cypress Park, LA Council District 1)

For the past two years, the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, Heal the Bay, andSanta Monica Baykeeper have been meeting with the City to discuss protecting LA’s remaining natural streams. Council Districts 5 and 11, Building & Safety, and Bureau of Sanitation/Department of Public Works have been front and center at looking at this issue. City Planning has also participated in the discussions. And now the City is bringing the discussion to you.

The discussion is spurred by the revelation that ongoing development, from backyard landscaping projects to new subdivisions, is resulting in damage to and loss of our few remaining streams. Many of these projects have straightened, dammed, concreted, or piped streams without following Clean Water Act, Fish & Game, or State Porter-Cologne Act protocols. In other words, people didn’t fill out the paperwork to destroy their creek, as none of these regulations actually outright bans stream destruction.

A city or county could have many motivations for acting to protect their waterways. Functional protected streams improve water quality, recharge groundwater, support wildlife (including fisheries), provide recreational activities, and enhance neighborhood aesthetics. Homes near streams are found to have higher re-sale values than ones further away, and industry has benefitted from mining the boulders, clays and sands accumulated in riverine floodplains. Streams do all these things for us – for free. Furthermore, cities and counties that approve development in floodplains are at increased risk of liability should that development flood.

Yet streams don’t show up on property maps, some streams aren’t even on USGS maps, city Building & Safety maps, etc. Many times they are mislabelled as “ditches.” The good news is the City of LA is working on mapping its creeks, as a first step towards protection.

But any talk of stream protection is fraught with fears that the development community will object. Concern over an onslaught of takings claims casts a long shadow and can kill this effort, leaving us with fewer and fewer of our remaining streams. Pitting development against streams is unfortunate – the streams will go away, but it is we as a community who lose.

Come to one of the public meetings and share your thoughts. Spoiler alert: I or other environmentalists working on this issue will be presenters at these meetings.

Thanks to a fellow creekfreak who jogs this street & saw the pipes show up, we averted the loss of this reach of stream. Creeks need better protection than coincidence.

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