Compton Creek fantasia?
October 20, 2008 § 4 Comments
A few years ago, some friends of mine at Heal the Bay and the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council contacted me about their (and others’) efforts on Compton Creek. There was this incredible opportunity to seek the support of developers to integrate Compton Creek into a new mall at the old Auto Plaza site. The Auto Plaza, as you can see here, was a large parcel of barren land. It is next to Compton Creek and across from the Crystal Park Casino. The Blue Line rail station is also next to the Casino – and a short walk to the Auto Plaza over the parking lot “bridge” that caps Compton Creek.
My friends asked me to develop some “what if” graphics that spoke to the possibilities of restoring Compton Creek within a commercial retail environment. I was very excited to do this, partly because I love making these graphics, but also because I think urbanism – and us city folk – have a lot to gain by integrating urbanism with the aesthetics of wildness. The graphics didn’t get put to much use in the end, but they’re fun to share with you. Also unfortunate, the mall has moved forward without embrace of the creek on the developer’s end, and so you can now do your BigBox shopping off the 91 and Alameda Street, but don’t try to get there from the Blue Line: despite all the paving between public transit and the big boxes, fences and security block the way. Score 1 for more cockeyed urban planning, LA-style.
Meanwhile, environmental agencies have not given up on the issue, as there is still some undeveloped land adjacent to the creek. And the Watershed Council, with help from the State Coastal Conservancy, has moved forward on its own to study the feasibility of restoring habitat in Compton Creek – with or without extra right-of-way. A design team of Mia Lehrer & Associates and Restoration Design Group(for whom I work) are envisioning a Compton Creek that improves public access and habitat while maintaining flood protection. The study models flood elevations using HEC-RAS to ensure that the restoration concepts are sound from a flood management/public safety standpoint. Imagine a flood control channel that also works for wildlife – and that would be attractive for people! I will post more on this as the study comes to a close. In the meantime, enjoy the dreaming.