Construction on the Lower Arroyo Seco

July 17, 2010 § 12 Comments

Construction on the Lower Arroyo Seco - below the Avenue 26 Bridge

Here are some photos of some construction (so far destruction?) underway on the lower Arroyo Seco. I first heard about this activity from Highland Park 90042, which asked the question What Are They Doing Down There? I have more-or-less the same question after seeing it myself. « Read the rest of this entry »

Deciding Hahamongna’s fate. Again.

July 7, 2010 § 12 Comments

"The original bridge over the site of the Devil's Gate Dam. As of 1987, there is no longer a reservoir. The site may be seen from Highway 210, north of the Arroyo Seco and south of Jet Propulsion Laboratory." 1920. Source: LAPL, Photo: 00017346

We’ve touched on this before, but today is a day of blogger solidarity to protect Hahamongna in its current state. The Pasadena City Council will meet on Monday, July 12, to vote on whether or not to place soccer fields within this natural park that contains a now rare thing in the greater LA area: oak woodlands and riparian and wetland habitat.

Details for the meeting:

Monday, July 12, 6:30-8:30pm; at 100 North Garfield Avenue, Pasadena, CA

« Read the rest of this entry »

Construction at Confluence Park

May 25, 2010 § 8 Comments

Confluence Park plaza and fountain area under construction today


I was glad to see construction proceeding at Confluence Park today. In early 2008 construction started there, but then stopped in late 2008 or early 2009 when state bond funds were frozen. I don’t have much recent insider information on this project, so I’ll try to get more details and pass them along to our readers. What follows is basic information on where and what Confluence Park is.  

« Read the rest of this entry »

Arroyo Seco Bike Path Moving Forward Slowly

May 16, 2010 § 2 Comments

The edge of this L.A. City Sanitation Yard will become a bike path and walk trail along the Arroyo Seco. (Photo: Bing Maps)

As announced here, last Thursday, the county of Los Angeles Public Works Department held a public meeting on its plans for adding more bike path along the Arroyo Seco. Creek Freek covered the plans for this bike path earlier and that background information is still applicable. It’s going to take a while, but the project is moving forward. Additional details after the jump.

« Read the rest of this entry »

News and Events – 11 May 2010

May 11, 2010 § 1 Comment


>The Studio City Los Angeles River Natural Park proposed for the existing Golf and Tennis site is “the craziest g*****n thing I’ve ever seen in my life” says owner in today’s Daily News. Earlier Creek Freak coverage of the issue here and here.

> Blogdowntown tells how L.A.’s 1929 First Street Bridge is being put back together. 

Fairy Shrimp - photo from What's That Bug?

> What’s That Bug finds fairy shrimp at Rio De Los Angeles State Park wetlands.

> County Supervisor Don Knabe funds improvements to the San Gabriel River Bike Path in the cities of Lakewood and Cerritos.

> When bicycling in New Orleans “forget your compass and follow the River” says NOLACycle (via Streetsblog)

> Construction to begin in July on the city of Glendale’s long-delayed Glendale Narrows River Walk project – per L.A. Times

> Win free reusable bag by taking L.A. City Bureau of Sanitation’s stormwater survey. Follow their informative L.A. Team Effort blog. 


> The county of L.A. invites the public to a meeting regarding the Lower Arroyo Seco Bike Path at 6pm this Thursday May 13th at the River Center’s Los Feliz Room. Creek Freak project background here and here.

> Rock the Boat video screens 7:30pm on Friday May 21st at L.A.  Eco-Village. RSVP and details at Facebook event page.

> Register now for the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition’s annual Los Angeles River Ride taking place on Sunday June 6th.

Soccer at Hahamongna?

April 21, 2010 § 3 Comments

Aerial view of Hahamongna. Photo from (and linked to) Arroyo Seco Foundation website.

Once again, active recreation and our dwindling natural resources are being pitted against each other.  This time, it’s at Hahamongna, a basin on the Arroyo Seco next to JPL.  Devil’s Gate Dam holds back the Arroyo’s flows, infiltrating some of them into the Raymond Basin, the aquifer that supplies a lot of Pasadena’s water.  Above ground, wetlands and oak woodlands abound, a rare finger of habitat extending down from the San Gabriel Mountains.

Should soccer be carved out of this? « Read the rest of this entry »

A Feasible New Bike Path Coming to the Lower Arroyo Seco

February 19, 2010 § 4 Comments

Map of proposed quarter-mile Arroyo Seco Bike Path from Avenue 26 to San Fernando Road - click image for 9-page pdf containing more detailed version of this image. Image from L.A. County.

The county of Los Angeles held a public meeting yesterday to review a new plan for the Arroyo Seco Bike Path. The county has funding from Metro to build a bikeway along the Arroyo… but past proposals  have met with resistance.

Last night there was broad consensus for moving forward with a relatively short (1280-feet, about 1/4-mile ) uncontroversial portion of the bikeway – extending from Avenue 26 to San Fernando Road. One thousand feet of that right of way is Caltrans (the state Department of Transportation) land, located below the ramps connecting the 5 and 110 Freeways. The remaining 280 feet currently belong to the city of Los Angeles. The project would include an asphalt bike path, and a decomposed granite (DG) walkway.

The quarter-mile project is estimated to cost about $610,000, which is just less than the county’s remaining funding of about $750,000. The estimate is preliminary – for just the bike and walk path, with no landscaping or lighting. Agency staff stressed that it could actually cost more if there are any issues with toxics in the soil – which is something they haven’t analyzed yet.

The project as designed would only connect to the south side of Avenue 26. A number of attendees suggested that the bikeway extend under Avenue 26, so it could be accessed from either side of the street. There is already a sufficiently large passageway below the southeast part of the bridge, so an undercrossing is not expected to need extensive bridge abutment work.

Caltrans is applying for Transportation Enhancement (TEA) funding that could landscape the site. Though the outcome of their application will be announced in May, landscape funding is not expected to be programmed and available for construction until 2014. 

Los Angeles City Bureau of Sanitation Yard. North is the bottom of the image. The concrete Arroyo Seco runs diagonally in the middle of the image. The 110 Freeway is in the lower right; the 5 in the lower right. San Fernando Road is in the upper right corner. Image from Bing Maps

The city portion of the proposed path is an existing Bureau of Sanitation yard. The southwest edge of the yard has a ramped transfer station, used for dumping loads of trash from smaller trucks into larger trucks. Apparently this station is no longer in use, and the space can be used for the bike path.

Last night’s meeting was encouraging because it appears that the county, city and state are working together well. Kudos to L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina and L.A. City Councilmember Ed Reyes for navigating this project out of the infeasible category back into the it-just-might-happen-in-a-year-or-two category. 

The county plans to host another meeting in a approximately three months to review final designs.

News and Events – 17 February 2010

February 17, 2010 § Leave a comment


>The L.A. County Bicycle Master Plan Bicycle Advisory Committee meets tonight Thursday February 17th at 7pm at the Board Overflow Room at Metro. The county bike plan, which Creek Freak outlined here, includes bike paths along county-maintained rivers, washes and creeks. There’s also a series of ten county bike plan community meetings running February 22nd through March 25th, held in various locations all over the county. For more info on all these, go to the meeting page on the county’s bike plan website.  

County photo of the vacant under-freeway right-of-way along the Arroyo Seco. View is looking northeast toward Avenue 26, with the Arroyo Seco channel just out of the picture to the left. Avenue 26 is across the middle of the image with the Avenue 26 Bridge in middle left. Freeway ramp connecting southbound 110 to northbound 5 is on the right.

>Los Angeles County is proposing a new scope for the funded Arroyo Seco Bike Path project. The new plan is to build the next phase along the southeast bank of the arroyo from Avenue 26 to San Fernando Road. This scales back a proposed ~1.5-mile bike path (from Avenue 43 to Avenue 26) to an ~0.3-mile bike and walk path, but the less ambitious new scope appears more likely to actually get built. The newly proposed stretch would be located in a right-of-way that is currently mostly empty space (below the interchange of the 5 and the 110 freeways) but also includes a portion of a city of L.A. Bureau of Sanitation yard. The county hosts a project meeting tomorrow Thursday February 18th at 6pm at the Los Angeles River Center. Check out the county’s 9-page background report, with photos and a map and L.A. Creek Freak’s earlier article on the conflicts over the earlier proposed bike path(Thanks Arroyo Seco Foundation for posting the county’s documents on-line.)

>Same night as the Arroyo Seco meeting, the city of Glendale hosts a public input meeting for its Glendale Narrows River Walk project. It’s Thursday February 18th at 7pm at the Pacific Community Center.

>C.I.C.L.E.’s creek freak bike ride is this Saturday February 20th, departing 12:30pm from the River Center. Rain cancels, and some is predicted for early Saturday – check the site that morning around 9am to confirm that the ride is on.

>State Assembly Speaker Karen Bass hosts a Ballona Creek clean-up event on Sunday February 21st at 10am at Overland Avenue.

> The city of Pasadena Bicycle Master Plan is also underway. The current draft  proposes bike paths along the Arroyo Seco (near Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and along Eaton Wash (from Eaton Canyon Nature Center to the 210 Freeway.) Pasadena will hold a public input meeting on their draft plan on Tuesday February 23rd at 6:30pm at City Council Chambers.


>Live “streaming” on the Arroyo Seco, and a dozen other California streams, via USGS (In the Watershed)

Small Improvements on the Arroyo Seco Bike Path

December 30, 2009 § 6 Comments

New signage directing folks to the Arroyo Seco Bike Path - at the upstream end of Arroyo Seco Park, off Marmion Way

I bicycled up the Los Angeles River and Arroyo Seco bikeways yesterday on the way to help my friend Monica move out of her apartment. Her old place is practically in the shadow of the 1912 York Boulevard Bridge over the Arroyo Seco. The York bridge, at the border of Highland Park and South Pasadena, is one of the half-dozen or so oldest bridges in L.A. County – a locally-rare-solid-arch historic bridge that I really like… but I will save that story for another blog entry. The Elysian Valley portion of the L.A. River bikeway is indeed under construction, expected to be completed by March 2010. Crews were at work pouring concrete drains at the last of those remaining dips… but that’s another story, too, which I’ve already covered a few times earlier

The story that I do want to tell here now is that I was happy to see a few small improvements on the Arroyo Seco Bike Path. It’s minor stuff at access points, new signage… the kind of innocuous details that only a truly bike-obsessed creek freak would notice, photograph and share. I think these improvements are fairly new – perhaps in the last month or two… but it could be that I just didn’t notice them the last time I dashed down the arroyo. 

« Read the rest of this entry »

Places to Visit: Lower Arroyo Seco in Pasadena

November 22, 2009 § 7 Comments

Midstream in the Arroyo Seco

When some of the Swedish visitors were here for their The Fifth Ecology: Los Angeles Beyond Desire exhibit, we planned to go for a hike to Millard Canyon Falls, above Pasadena. Unfortunately the area was closed, likely due to the recent fires. We instead ended up taking a hike along the Lower Arroyo Seco in Pasadena. The lower Arroyo is a very popular, very pleasant site.

We parked the Swedes’ rental car at the southern end of the massive Rose Bowl parking lots, near the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center. A portion of the parking area was recently retrofitted to detain and infiltrate stormwater. A handful of parking spaces were removed to create a few oases of native plants. Here’s what it looks like:

Parking Lot Infiltration Area with Native Vegetation

and here’s a helpful sign explaining the project:

Parking Lot Signage about Improving Water Quality and Enhancing Habitat

(It’s all pretty nice… for a parking lot… but loyal readers can probably guess that this creek freak is not all that into parking lots. What I would like to see in this area is enhanced Rose Bowl access via bike and transit… allowing for much less parking needed… then ripping out some big chunks of that parking to make way for a re-naturalized Arroyo Seco streambed. Someday.)

Walking into the Lower Arroyo Seco Nature Park

We crossed Arroyo Boulevard, turned left, and walked downstream. We crossed below the Holly Street bridge and entered the Lower Arroyo Seco Nature Park. The park has a very pleasant walking paths with plenty of mature sycamores trees overhanging. This time of year, the site is particularly green and lush. Note that the park can also have poison oak. We didn’t encounter any this trip, but I’ve seen it there before. If you’re unfamiliar with poison oak, I recommend that you stick to the established trails.

For a short stretch here, about a quarter mile upstream from Colorado Boulevard, the bed of the Arroyo Seco is not channelized in concrete. It’s a nice meandering streambed.

This is the area where the city of Pasadena and the Arroyo Seco Foundation collaborated on a project to restore the arroyo chub – a small native fish species that is threatened.

We continued walking downstream. Below the magnificent historic Colorado Street Bridge, the Arroyo Seco is again channelized in concrete. In this area there’s a wetlands restoration project that was built in 1997. Water from the main stem of the Arroyo is shunted into parallel side streams, now dense with vegetation. These side-streams continue for about a half-mile below the Colorado Bridge.

There are plenty of wonderful historic bridges on this walk. I am pretty sure it’s the largest local concentration of historic bridges other than in Downtown Los Angeles. These include: the Linda Vista Bridge (now Holly Street) – 1925, the Colorado Street Bridge (now Colorado Boulevard) – 1913, the Loma Road Bridge – 1914, and the San Rafael Avenue Bridge – 1922.

We walked along the channel for about two miles. Though the stream is contained in the concrete channel, the surrounding area is a nice deep canyon – which is a bit unusual for Southern California creeks which tended to spread out into broad alluvial washes. The area is very popular for hikers, joggers, and folks walking their dogs.

Checking out the Busch Gardens' remains below San Rafael

We crossed to the opposite bank at the pedestrian bridge just below San Rafael Avenue – right where San Rafael Creek enters from the west. Locals there told us about the remains of Busch Gardens – an early amusement park that was located on the east bank of the Arroyo above and below San Rafael. Stonework adorned pathway remnants of the park are still visible on the hillsides.

The lower Arroyo Seco is an excellent site to visit and explore today… and a site that shows a lot of potential for greater restoration in the future.

(Notes: Another version of this walk appears on pages 160-163 in my book Down by the Los Angeles River published in 2005 by Wilderness Press and available at bookstores, libraries and on-line. Thanks to My Wårhagen for taking the photos.)

Walking upstream near the 134 Freeway Bridge

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