Sunnynook River Park Groundbreaking

July 25, 2012 § 8 Comments

Sunnynook River Park groundbreaking: golden shovels lifting ceremonial soil. Visible from left to right City Engineer Gary Moore, Councilmember Garcetti, Councilmember Reyes, Councilmember LaBonge, Recreation & Parks Assistant General Manager Kevin Regan, FoLAR founder Lewis MacAdams, and State Assemblymember Mike Gatto

Before a crowd of about 90, the city of Los Angeles broke ground on Sunnynook River Park this morning. The new Atwater Village park will be located in the mostly vacant area on the southwest bank of the Los Angeles River, between Glendale Boulevard and Los Feliz Boulevard – immediately downstream of the Sunnynook footbridge. « Read the rest of this entry »

New Atwater Village Historic Photos Book by Arcadia Press

July 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

Atwater Village - Arcadia Publishing - cover image is the 1927 Glendale-Hyperion Bridge

There’s a brand new book on the history of Atwater Village, one of the neighborhoods along the Glendale Narrows stretch of the Los Angeles River.

From Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, the book is titled, simply, Atwater Village. It was written by Netty Carr, Sandra Caravella, Luis Lopez, and Ann Lawson all of the Friends of Atwater Village (FAV.) I played a small role in helping out with their chapter on the river and the bridges over it.

The book is chock-full of great old historic photos of the neighborhood, including heretofore unpublished images of the L.A. River in flood stage, and much more.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Family River Bike Tour – Saturday March 5th

February 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

Be GOOD - Support CicLAvia!

As part of the GOOD fundraiser for CicLAvia, Creek Freak author/artist, CicLAvia-ista yours truly Joe Linton will be leading a very fun very family-friendly bike ride and tour of the Los Angeles River. The ride departs at 2:30pm on Saturday March 5th 2011 – from Atwater Crossing – 3229 Casitas Avenue, Atwater Village 90039. We’ll return to the party by 4pm.

The ride is very short – about 1/3 of a mile each way, on very very quiet residential streets – and will visit one of the very nicest parts of the Los Angeles River – lots of ducks, other birds, tall trees, fish, and lush and pleasant place in (nearly) every respect. I’ll talk a little about the history of the river and plans for its future.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Places to Visit: Acresite Gate in Atwater Village

February 15, 2011 § 2 Comments

Brett Goldstone's Acresite Water and Willow Gate

The Acresite gate isn’t Brett Goldstone’s biggest or most elaborate river gate… but it’s very nice, and just enough off the beaten path, and along one of the nicest stretches of river, so I figure it’s worth alerting Creek Freak readers to. « Read the rest of this entry »

Three Events Tomorrow: Maps, Atwater Creek and Downtown Diversion

October 27, 2010 § 4 Comments

The Downtown Los Angeles Low Flow Diversion project which breaks ground tomorrow - click on image for more detail

Tomorrow – Thursday October 27th 2010 – is looking like a busy day for local creek freaks. There are two groundbreakings and a talk: Downtown Los Angeles Low Flow Diversion, North Atwater Park Expansion and Creek Restoration Project, and Los Angeles in Maps. « Read the rest of this entry »

Sunnynook River Park Inches Forward

November 5, 2009 § 1 Comment

Sunnynook River Park location

Location of the planned Sunnynook River Park (from the city of L.A. via LAist)

This week, the city of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) board approved permission for the city to proceed with constructing Sunnynook River Park. The future park will be located along the southwest bank of the Los Angeles River, exteding from the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge to the Sunnynook Footbridge. The 3.4-acre park site, sandwiched between the 5 Freeway and the river bike path, and includes an easement for DWP power transmission lines.

The city has been awarded $1.7M to build the park… but that’s nearly all state bond funds, which have been delayed and frozen and re-frozen and damned to hell due to the state budget crisis.  So there’s no real time-line for when construction will start. Nonetheless, it’s great to see that the city is moving forward getting all their permissions in order to be ready when the approved funding becomes available.

More details on Sunnynook River Park from Creek Freak’s article about it last year. More coverage of this week’s DWP approval at LAist and at Atwater Village News.

Sunset Magazine Bikes The River

April 28, 2009 § 2 Comments

At a checkstand near you!

At a checkstand near you!

The Los Angeles River bike path hits the big time!  The latest issue of Sunset Magazine urges its readers to get on their bikes and head over to Atwater Village, see some art, eat some pasta, and do some yoga.  They also recommend that Creek Freak Joe Linton’s famous multi-thousand-seller book.  Spring is actually a great time to bike or walk the river.  The willows have leafed out. Flowers are in bloom. Lot of young birds have hatched.  Why am I sitting in front of the computer?

If you don’t want to go alone, volunteer at a clean-up or bike the River Ride!

(Thanks to Jenny Price for getting Sunset onto our urban river.)

Osprey Spotting on the L.A. River

September 28, 2008 § 3 Comments

This afternoon I met up with a friend, Daniela, for a walk along the river. She’s actually a friend of a friend of my brother’s wife. She’s new in town and heard about my riparian proclivities and wanted to check out the mighty Los Angeles. Creek freak’s regular readers and I thank her for actually bringing a real camera. We met at the end of Dover Street in Atwater Village. We walked downstream along the concrete lip down by the river’s edge. The river was looking lush and green, with lots of ducks and coots, some cormorants, and occasional egrets and herons.

It was all very Los Angeles. We said “hola” to los tres fishermen, using tortillas as bait. Checked out carp they’d caught and stored in a small cooler. “Si, vamos a comer.” Further on, below the Sunnynook Footbridge, we went past about a dozen folks taking a break from a film shoot. We stepped over the camera rail tracks they’d set up and kept walking. Then we came across the osprey.

Just upstream of the Glendale Hyperion Viaduct, we spotted an osprey (sometimes called a fish hawk) circling above. We weren’t 100% sure it was an osprey – white under-bellied raptor with white shoulders turning to grays and blacks toward the outer part of its wings. A bit like this photo – though we weren’t anywhere near that close. Even though I’ve seen them here a few times, frankly, to my non-expert-birder eyes, they’re a bit similar to some sea-gulls. I know they’re really different, with very different behavior, but the size and color are slightly similar. (Creek freak probably just lost some credibility points with our birding readers right there.) Daniela and I discussed osprey anecdotes. She told me that when osprey grab a fish, they can’t let go until they reach solid ground, so sometimes they die trying to bring in too big a fish.

We crossed under the bridge, passed the Red Car River Park mural and Daniela spotted the osprey again. It was cruising out over the river, then took an abrupt turn plummeting downward. Into the water. Splash! and up with a small fish clenched in its talons. It was a fantastic sight! It was similar to this video. I told Daniela that of course this happens all the time on the L.A. River though I’ve seen osprey maybe a couple dozen times on the L.A. River (in the Glendale Narrows and in the Sepulveda Basin), and I knew that they were there for the fish, I’d never actually seen one dive and come up with a fish. A few years ago, I was leading a field trip for a group of Valley high school students in the Sepulveda Basin when I saw an osprey carrying a fish. Some of the students said they’d seen it catch the fish, but I missed it. Today was the first time I saw the pounce, the splash, and the getaway.

The rest of the walk was pleasant. No more dramatic birds of prey, though. We turned around at Brett Goldstone’s Water with Rocks gate at Fletcher Drive. We shared plums while we sat and talked for a while under the pleasant shade of tall cottonwoods and sycamores in North East Trees’ Atwater Riverwalk mini-park.

On my ride home, I spotted the osprey again, perched on an electrical wire that crosses the river just below Sunnynook. Now perched it looked a little different – mostly solid black, with a smallish head and a small white collar. I got off my bike, made my way below the pipe fence and sat on the sloped concrete wall and watched and waited. I was hoping it would take off so I could see it in flight and could confirm its osprey-ness… but he and I just sat.  After fifteen or twenty minutes, I began to get cold, so I mounted my bike and rode home. I checked online and the photos I saw here resembled what I’d seen in the field.

Sometimes I worry right before I’m about to show the river to someone new or to lead a walk along it. I think that maybe folks will be bored, or that they won’t see anything past the trash and concrete. More often than not, the river delivers something compelling… whether it’s a canvas on which we project our restoration dreams, a patch of flowers in bloom, a smiling family out for a bike ride, the sun illuminating a noble bridge, or just an osprey doing its job.

I can’t promise anything, but I recommend that you step away from the computer and take a walk along the stream in your neighborhood. Let me know how it goes.

Planned Sunnynook River Park

July 29, 2008 § 2 Comments

Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge and the city Bureau of Engineering held a meeting tonight to share plans for a new 3.4 acre park on the L.A. River. It’s located in the elongated property bounded by the river, the Sunnynook Footbridge, the 5 Freeway, and the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge.

It’s a $1.7M dollar project, with $1.35M coming from the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and another $350K from a Caltrans Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation grant. That’s fairly cheap for a park this size, mostly because there’s no land acquisition costs – as the site is publicly owned (looks like it’s partially Caltrans and partially County Flood Control District.)

Draft designs presented via powerpoint (the slide show is available on the city website) show a habitat park with plenty of native trees and shrubs, some interpretive signage, a small outdoor classroom, berms to mitigate freeway noise, a picnic area, and a small depressed swale area that will collect and infiltrate stormwater. Mercifully, there’s no new parking. Folks can access the site from the bike trail or the Sunnynook Footbridge. If need be, they can park at the nearby Griffith Park Rec Center parking lot and walk across the ped bridge over the freeway.

Community members present seemed fairly supportive of the concept, though a few did express concerns about graffiti and homeless persons. Another concern expressed was that the city hasn’t worked on sites closer to where folks live on the northeast side of the river. After the meeting, one longterm river supporter expressed concern to me that the site is planned to be used as a construction staging area for the city’s planned widening of the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge and that this could put much of the new park out of commission for a few years.

The city is taking comments on the draft plan now through August 8th. Learn more about the proposal by downloading the slideshow, which includes contact information details for your comments.

Kayaking the Los Angeles River: Day 2

July 27, 2008 § 2 Comments

The second day of kayaking, in which the crew puts in at the Sepulveda Dam and takes out in Frogtown, was considerably more exhausting than the first. If this entry is shorter than the last, it’s because the day was longer.

On my bus ride in, I spied a gentleman across from me reading the Daily News. I asked to look and sure enough there were photographs and a very short text about the kayak expedition. The print edition even features this photo of me. Folks have mentioned that the L.A. Times also ran a photo… but I can’t seem to find it on their website.

There was a delay in getting things going at the preordained 9am start time, so Connor Everts and I put in at Burbank Boulevard and cruised our kayaks back upstream into the Sepulveda Basin. We saw ~5 carp, plentiful heron and even a turtle. Urban nature writer extraordinaire Jenny Price gave her talk. I’ve heard it before, but I really like what she says about the river. Take one of her tours if you get the chance. And we were off.

First portage (that’s where you walk, dragging the canoe… not all that fun) was immediately under the Sepulveda Dam. These photos are from my cell phone, which I really did want to keep dry, so I didn’t take too many and only in places where there wasn’t too much water splashing. I like to run more pictures of the greener parts of the river, but I was busy kayaking there, so you’re getting concrete shots today.

We were able to kayak through much of the East Valley – Sherman Oaks and Studio City. Not a great deal of water, so there was some scraping, and occasional brief portaging. We encountered a truck of county maintenance workers in the channel. I showed them my saran-wrapped sign stating “FILM PERMIT”, with the permit number, and they let us continue unmolested. We stopped for lunch at the ramp at Coldwater Canyon Avenue. Folks were in good spirits. The channel hadn’t been easy, but not too difficult.

Just east of Radford Avenue in Studio City (at CBS Studio Center), the flat bottom channel that we had been traversing gives way to what’s called a low flow channel. It’s basically a notch in the middle of the flat concrete channel, especially designed for fast, easy kayaking… er… I mean… designed to keep the flow in one place to make for easy maintenance. The initial lip of the low flow channel can be a little tricky, potentially dangerous – sort of a stair-step waterfall rapid. We took our kayaks out before it, lowered them in after and were on our way. At the east end of CBS, the Tujunga Wash meets the L.A. River. Visible from the Colfax Avenue Bridge, it’s a sort of wye made of notches, easy to shoot though on a kayak.

The low flow channel water moves fast, and it’s actually plenty deep, so it was certainly the most pleasurable and fastest moving part of today’s leg, though I found myself paddling quickly and sometimes bouncing off the sides, until I got the hang of it. The things you can do in a rental canoe! All good things must end… and the low flow channel peters out in the area around Forest Lawn. The picture at the left is looking back (west) upstream, with the Griffith Park hillside on the left and Burbank on the right. We then walked about a mile, canoes in tow, until we arrived at the soft-bottom stretch alongside Bette Davis Picnic Area. We were greeted there by supporters who buoyed our spirits with ice cream and cold drinks (thanks Ramona of Friends of the LA River!).

And this is where our troubles began… Most of the folks were smart and decided to portage (via truck) down to Atwater River Walk. But a few intrepid (or perhaps foolhardy) souls continued in the channel. The next couple miles either contain lots of rocks positioned perfectly to immobilize foolhardy (or perhaps intrepid) kayakers, or, like the photo on the left, have expansive flat areas with only a few inches of sheet flow. The picture shows Jeff Tipton portaging before the 134 Freeway. The shot is downstream, where you make a right turn and can actually start to see the downtown skyscrapers in the distance (though you need a better camera than my cell phone to prove this… you’ll just have to take my word for it.) Griffith Park is on his right and the Arroyo Verdugo (which runs through Glendale) is on his left. Just downstream (a mere 15-minute walk), there’s a rocky area that looks like it should be kayakable… but I kept going for about 20 seconds before getting caught on rocks. I ended up pulling out and towing my boat on the east side of the river. I would see an area that looked good, put back in, then get stuck again. Perhaps a lighter and/or more experienced kayaker could navigate it better. I found it pretty frustrating.

Just downstream of Colorado Street, the Los Angeles-Glendale Water Reclamation Plant pumps out about 3 million gallon a day of tertiary treated water… and the kayakers are back in business… albeit exhausted by this point. We continued downstream, under the Los Feliz Bridge (another brief portage) then met up with the rest of the group. A police helicopter was circling overhead, and two uniformed LAPD officers greeted us at the Sunnynook Footbridge. They had received a call. I showed them the magic aumulet… er… film permit and they looked it over and over and asked to see it again and conferred and looked again… and told us we could proceed. (One of them told us that he’s a kayaker.)

The stretches below the LA-Glendale Plant are very pleasant. There are areas where you get trees and other vegetation on both sides and it feels like you’re not in L.A. anymore. Once we passed under the Glendale-Hyperion Bridge, we were greeted by a tribe of mudpeople (surreal tribal L.A. performance troupe) and another group of dancers (a group I don’t have the name for) all dressed in flowing white dresses. We lingered and spectated, then continued downstream.

We crossed under the Fletcher Drive Bridge. In the deeper (comparatively) water area under and downstream of the 2 Freeway, we encountered families, couples and individuals sitting on the sloped concrete wall with their fishing lines in, waiting. We asked and it sounded like folks hadn’t caught much that day, but they appeared to be having fun – hanging out, pointing at the nutty gabacho kayakers scaring off their carp.

We took out at Marsh Park where Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority staff were telling stories with a dozen kids around a campfire. I am sore and tired… but I will be back out on the Mighty Los Angeles at 9am with my prow pointed toward Long Beach.

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