Garcetti Announces US Army Corps Support for $1B LA River Plan

May 29, 2014 § 1 Comment

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti shakes hands with US Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Kim Colloton at today's press conference in Elysian Valley.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti shakes hands with US Army Corps of Engineers Colonel Kim Colloton at today’s press conference in Elysian Valley.

Earlier today, Mayor Garcetti announced U.S. Army Corps of Engineers support for Option 20 – the most ambitious of various USACE projects for L.A. River habitat restoration. For more of the story, including some impromptu Lewis MacAdams poetry, see my article today at Streetsblog Los Angeles.

News and Events – 21 October 2010

October 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Rim of the Valley Corridor study area - click on map for link, information below

NEWS (some of these really deserve their own LACF article – but I am just going to crank out my post-CicLAvia backlog.)

> Creek Freaks might want to check out a study of what’s called the Rim of the Valley Corridor. The National Parks Service investigation is looking into designation of new national park areas that could include regional trail system/s circling Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley and also looking at opportunties for open space conservation. The study area, shown above, includes portions of the Santa Monica, San Gabriel and Santa Susana Moutains, and the Verdugo Hills. In addition to lots of wild hillside creeks and watershed, L.A.’s urban creek freaks may be interested in the study’s inclusion of the Los Angeles State Historic Park area, the L.A. River through Elysian Valley, and the Arroyo Seco Corridor (all bottom right of above map.) Look over more information on the study website, and give your initial input by Friday October 29th 2010. If you’re interested sign up here to receive email updates about the study and about the many miles of trails up for designation.

> Creek Freak reader friend Tim Kirk stumped us with a question about where was the last Los Angeles River stretch to be concreted? He now asks LACF readers: “I am working on a writing project which features a scene at the LA River around 1947 or 1948.  I’m interested in finding which parts of the river had not yet been given the concrete treatment.  Does anyone know of a good time-line for the construction of the LA River? I appreciate any help.  Thank you.” The closest answer we could get our hands on is an L.A. Times article from March 2 1958 that states “Last week, after 23 years and $101,100,000, the Army Corps of Engineers complete its project of concreting the bottom and sides of the 50.9-mile long Los Angeles River” – but it doesn’t state where or what was actually completed at that time. If anyone has any leads, please comment below and/or email Tim at tim2kirk [at]

> The L.A. Times reports that our friend and ally Belinda Faustinos is retiring from the RMC – stands for  San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy – in May 2011.

> KPCC reports that a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers consulant has determined that the Whittier Narrows Dam could fail in a 100-year storm. My favorite line – remember that this consultant is paid by public funds to provide a public agency some public information:

When a Whittier Daily News reporter asked the engineer what was wrong with the dam, the consultant replied “it’s not my job to explain it to the general public.”

Just a hunch, but this Creek Freak suspects that the consultant might have some fiscal interest in building new dams. Relief from the Concrete maps potential flood areas downstream if the dam breaks.

> KPCC’s Pacific Swell recognized Creek Freak’s Joe Linton as one of its everyday heroes.

> KCET Departures is revisiting the Los Angeles River (check out their cool river piece from last year) – read their latest river production notes blog here and here.

> Malibu has a cool new stormwater-cleansing park. The 17-acre Malibu Legacy Park opened October 2nd 2010. Read more at the L.A. Times or the park website, or watch Madhouse Muse’s video. This Creek Freak confesses that he hasn’t been there yet, and looks forward to checking it out soon.

> The Eastsider covers the city of Los Angeles’ river-centric proposed redevelopment zone (officially the Northeast Los Angeles River Study Area), which includes parts of Elysian Valley, Cypress Park, Glassell Park, and Atwater Village.


> This Saturday October 23rd 2010 is the monthly Community Open House for touring the Ballona Ecological Reserve. These guided walks leave from the Fiji Gateway at 9:30am, 10:30am, and 11:30am. The Fiji Gateway is at 13720 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292, across from Fisherman’s Village.

> Moonlight Magic, the Friends of Madrona Marsh annual fundraiser is also Saturday October 23rd 2010, from 6:00pm to 10:00pm. The Friends are a volunteer driven stewardship organization that has a regular schedule of restoration and education activities at the marsh, located in Torrance. Tickest are $50.

>On Sunday October 24th at 4pm, L.A. Yellow Box and Friends of the Los Angeles River host a screening of the documentary Bag It. Details at the Facebook event page.

> At 7pm Thursday October 28th 2010, the Downtown Library Aloud series hosts DJ Waldie and Glen Creason speaking in celebration of the newly released Los Angeles in Maps book, which Creek Freak profiled here. To get warmed up for the event, read Waldie’s beautiful piece Seduced by Maps at KCET – which concludes with a sweeeet allusion to one of my very favorite Jorge Luis Borges short stories On Exactitude in Science:

Fortunately, the perfect map of Los Angeles – the Borgesian map of all romantic maps – is already in your possession, just outside your door. Its scale is 1:1, and you will need good shoes.

Friends of Ballona Wetlands are having their annual fundraiser, Moonlight on the Marsh, on Friday October 29th 2010. This year’s event is a yacht party, from 6:00pm to ??? Tickets are $100 regular/$80 student or non-profits.

Opportunity knocks at Compton Creek

July 11, 2010 § 3 Comments

Public officials on Compton Creek last week. Photo: Mia Lehrer.

Last Wednesday’s press conference on Compton Creek with EPA official Lisa Jackson has been the source of much navigability excitement in the creekfreak blogosphere, but as Joe mentioned, the press conference had another purpose: to bring together officialdom to celebrate and unite in purpose around acquisition of part of Compton Creek.

If you think the navigability issue on LA’s waterways is tricky, you should take a look at ownership! « Read the rest of this entry »

On Nexus and Navigability: Part 6 – Navigability Now

July 10, 2010 § 4 Comments

Excerpt from EPA L.A. River Navigability Letter - full text below

With the above forty-one words restoring disputed federal protections to the Los Angeles River, it’s been a pretty excellent week for local creeks and their human friends. The federal navigability and protection issues were very hot when this blog was getting started back in mid-2008, so it’s a treat to see them resolved this week. We thought we’d do some wrap-up with some of the primary documents behind this week’s announcement and then a round-up of what we’ve written about the issue before. (Also, next week, we’re hoping to do some editorializing about what the determination means for the future… and why navigability as a test for federal protection for clean water may not be the best way forward for healthy creeks.)

First off, the actual document that states that the entire L.A. River is navigable – a 6 July 2010 letter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 9 Administrator Jared Blumenfeld to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District District Engineer Colonel Mark Toy :

« Read the rest of this entry »

Graffiti, the Los Angeles River, and the Federal Stimulus

December 28, 2009 § 4 Comments

Graffiti pieces reflected in the waters of the mighty Los Angeles - photo copyright Urban Photo Adventures - click for info on their tours

“Glad to see drab concrete restored back to its pristine condition” writes one presumably-sarcastic commenter on today’s informative L.A. Times article about recent graffiti abatement efforts on the L.A. River.

The story of L.A. River graffiti goes back quite a while. It’s a mixed bag; there are lots of different types out there – from fascinating hundred-year old hobo graffiti to beautiful elaborate pieces to irritating irreverent tagging. L.A. Creek Freak won’t attempt to be exhaustive here… but what follows are some anecdotes and thoughts about graffiti on the river… and better uses for federal stimulus monies than a short-term paint-out. « Read the rest of this entry »

Streaming in from the blogosphere

November 6, 2009 § 3 Comments

A couple of updates from the blogosphere:

Meredith McKenzie posts an update at ArroyoLover from two meetings pertinent to the Arroyo Seco:  news of Congressional funding for the Army Corps feasibility study and a report on the Station Fire damage within the Arroyo.  The Army Corps study follows up on several studies performed by local agencies and groups, such as the Arroyo Seco Watershed Restoration Feasibility Study (North East Trees, Arroyo Seco Foundation, Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority and National Park Service) and the Arroyo Seco Watershed Management and Restoration Plan(North East Trees), Cal Poly and Parkway studies and then some.  So, some of us are already convinced that reaches of the Arroyo can handle naturalization – let’s hope the Corps agrees!

For additional info on the Station Fire, fires and chapparral, there will be a free talk this Saturday night (and you’ll still have time to go out clubbing afterwards) hosted by the Theodore Payne Foundation with Richard Halsey of the Chaparral Institute and Jon Keeley, PhD of the US Geological Survey:  6:30-8:30pm, Clark Magnet High School Auditorium, 4747 New York Avenue, La Crescenta, CA 91214.

Reader Thal Armathura follows up to an earlier post, Woodburied Creek, (and Petrea Burchard’s Pasadena Daily Photo) in our comments section with links to more info on Woodbury Creek at Avenue to the Sky.

If your interests run more towards wastewater, the LA Times reports that the LA Regional Water Quality Control Board is (finally) taking action to prevent high-powered Malibu pooh from seeping downstream into Malibu Creek and Surfrider Beach.  Thank you, Tracy Egoscue for your leadership at the Board, and to Baykeeper and Heal the Bay and others whose persistence has resulted in action.

The Times also reports that statewide leadership is yielding a compromise on state water issues.  I’ll reserve judgement for now, as there is both praise and criticism, and just point you to the article.  Emily Green at Chance of Rain neatly summarizes the compromise (and gets extra credit for use of the word backslapathon in a sentence) and gives a blow-by-blow account of the maneuvers leading up to the compromise here (basically, if you don’t already, you should just have her bookmarked). [UPDATE] Reader NHB pointed out that Heal the Bay’s Mark Gold offers a critique of the deal at Spouting Off.

Last but not least from the Times this week is a report from Huntington Beach on a small coastal salt marsh that was filled without a permit by a developer, Beachfront Village LLC.

Smothering streams

February 8, 2009 § Leave a comment


The Rio de Flag: Help! (Photo S. Bergquist)

Today, you are reading the Southwestern Creekfreak, which has elbowed its way in on the LA Creekfreak.  While in Flagstaff recently to attend Tom Moody’s memorial, friends in Flag updated us on the looming public works project on the Rio de Flag.  The words “public works” (worse yet – “improvement”) in concert with “stream”, “river”, or “creek” don’t generally bode well for the waterway in question, and this is no exception.

The Stimulus Plan (the one on the news, like, constantly) has a line item in it that will bury the lower Rio de Flag.  That’s right, bury it.  Lay pipe or culverts in the stream’s bed, and place fill over it.  At the recommendation of (who else?) the Army Corps of Engineers.  That would be the LA District, folks, which prepares projects and permits over several southwestern states.  Our local-right-on-Wilshire Blvd-office of ACOE.  The same office that is studying the LA River and Ballona Creek to see what they can undo of the phenomenal environmental destruction earlier generations of their office wrought.  

Schizophrenia to say the least. 

The Corps has a range of programs through which they provide services to local governments.  Here in the LA Basin, we work a lot with their planners who focus on environmental restoration.  They do complicated analyses to recommend a restoration plan that gets the most credits based on science, economics, and gov’t priorities.  This doesn’t always translate into the most ecologically functional or sensitive plan – it may mean that they are managing a site more intensively for a particular endangered species, or other objective that the government gives big points to – but it can result in good work, and if their preferred alternative is also the local stakeholder’s then we can get a lot of federal help for implementation.

Whatever program the Corps used to consult with Flagstaff came up with an assessment that preferred burying the Rio de Flagstaff over installing new bridges.  I can only guess the Corps’ formulas don’t value the natural functions of a stream very highly.  With the preferred plan of laying pipes, the Corps offers total federal financing of the project.  If Flagstaff were to choose the bridges alternative, I’m told they’d have to raise about 50% of the funds themselves.  The path of least resistance is easy to see in this scenario.  

How many other streams does the Corps want to smother with this Stimulus Package?  

Protection of natural resources – especially our waterways – needs to be a consistent priority – not just something you care about after you’ve jacked it up.  Piping a stream should never be an alternative, and certainly not a preferred one. As an aside, nor should an agency that prefers to pipe a stream have regulatory authority over Clean Water Act permits pertaining to the dredging and filling of waterways and wetlands!  Folks, we seriously need some other agency to develop and manage the projects that involve our waterways.  

Is the potential damage to streams through the Stimulus Package even on the White House’s radar?  After waiting patiently for 2+ years for support and action on a draft stream protection ordinance that was sitting on the desk of then-LA City Deputy Mayor of the Environment Nancy Sutley (now head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality), I wonder indeed.

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