LA City’s Proposed River Zone and River Corporation

October 6, 2008 § 7 Comments

PROPOSED Boundaries for River Zone and River Corporation (click to download detailed pdf)

PROPOSED Boundaries for LA City's River Zone and River Corporation (click to download detailed map pdf)

The city of Los Angeles’ River Revitalization Plan (the LARRMP) includes many components – from taking out many tons of concrete at Taylor Yard to making river-adjacent neighborhood streets greener, more walkable and more bikeable. The city is getting the ball rolling on implementing the plan. Two proposed components of the LARRMP have been written up and are up for public review right now. Creek Freak brings you the 411 on these: the River Improvement Overlay and the River Revitalization Corporation. If you have ideas, objections, or just random musings, we invite you to be a part of the city’s process by offering your comments. It’s important to comment if you see things in these that you’d like to be changed, but it’s also good to comment favorably when you think that the overall proposals are a step in the right direction – which I think is the case here.

River Improvement Overlay (RIO)

The River Improvement Overlay District (called the RIO) is a zoning overlay that fosters appropriate and watershed-wise development in neighborhoods that are close to the LA River. For those folks familiar with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – the most prominent standards for green buildings), the RIO is somewhat similar. If someone wants to build something next to the river, then they need to include various components related to the environment and access to the river. RIO also includes street standards, calling for bike- and pedestrian-friendly streets in the river area.

There’s a bunch of very clear and helpful background information on the web – all pdf files. The two-page RIO fact sheet gives you the basics. The ordinance itself is in multiple parts attached to this table of contents. The proposed boundaries for the RIO are shown above; they include an irregularly-shaped river corridor, extending approximately a mile or so on each side into the adjacent neighborhoods.

The City Planning Department‘s River Unit had hoped to put the RIO in place right away after the LARRMP was approved in 2007. There was an initial ordinance and some meetings last year, but it wasn’t put into effect until the city did their due diligence for environmental review – in hopes that no mean-spirited developer will sue the city as the RIO will mandate them to build a bit greener. The city has evaluated the environmental impacts and has now published an initial study and a draft mitigated negative declaration both basically stating that the RIO won’t harm the environment.

Comments on the RIO are due Monday October 27th 2008.  They should be emailed to deborah.kahen {at} lacity.org

The RIO is excellent – I hope it gets approved very soon. My only criticism of the RIO is that it doesn’t go far enough. I’d like to see more specific restrictions on development immediately adjacent to the river and tributaries. Given that the entire city is watershed, the run-off from all our neighborhoods contribute to water quality and quantity problems on our rivers and creeks. We can’t solve these problems by only creating higher standards for river adjacent neighborhoods… but I am ok with us starting there.

Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation (RRC)

The LARRMP calls for three new entities to manage the revitalization of the river within the city. These include 1) the Los Angeles River Authority – a new power-sharing entity where the city, county and federal governments can work collaboratively, 2) the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation (RRC) – an entrepreneurial non-profit that will work to revitalize the river and connections into adjacent communities, and 3) the Los Angeles River Foundation – a philanthropic non-profit that will work on projects and programs that celebrate the river.

The city is working on all three of these (I hope to report on other second entities soon), but for now, I will focus on the second. The RRC will be a new non-profit corporation that will build river-related improvements, facilitate economic development, and be responsible for some maintenance and management. The boundaries for where the RRC will operate are the same boundaries for the RIO (shown at the top of this blog).

The RRC will function a bit like a miniature community redevelopment area, so it comes as no surprise that Los Angeles’ Community Redevelopment Agency is leading the efforts to set up the organization. LA’s CRA is helping the RRC get started by paying for the first year of staffing, providing office space and some administrative and legal support. The proposed by-laws for the corporation (2MB pdf) are available on-line. Comments on RRC by-laws are requested by October 15th 2008, and can be emailed to jneville {at} cra.lacity.org and lupe.m.vela {at} lacity.org

Creek Freak, having too much time on his hands, has actually read over the by-laws and they look pretty standard, which is fine. There will be seven members on the initial board, three appointed by the mayor, three by the City Council, and one by the chair of the council’s Ad Hoc River Committee. The proposed purposes of the RRC include “preparing and implementing plans and programs that facilitate, encourage, promote, and foster responsible development, redevelopment and revitalization of properties within … the RIO District” and “acquiring, assembling, developing or selling interests in real or personal property within the RIO District” and more.

The River in Downtown Los Angeles Today (courtesy LARRMP)

The River in Downtown Los Angeles Today (courtesy LARRMP)

Zoning and by-laws – topics no doubt guaranteed to drive up our statistics! Never say that Creek Freak doesn’t bring you the most exciting and scintillating tidbits of what’s happening along our waterways.

The City's Vision for the River in 20 Years (courtesy LARRMP)

The City's Vision Plan for the River in about 25 Years (courtesy LARRMP)


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