Projects Progress in Lincoln Heights and Santa Monica

January 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

Demolition underway at the 6.3-acre Albion Dairy site in Lincoln Heights. Photos taken looking downstream from the North Spring Street Bridge. The existing Downey Recreation Center park (with green lawn) is visible on the far left. The Los Angeles River is on the right, with the North Main Street Bridge visible.

I recently spotted a couple of projects that L.A. Creek Freak has reported on that are now making on-the-ground progress. In Lincoln Heights (photo above) the Albion Dairy site industrial buildings and parking lot are well on their way to being completely demolished. Information on that planned L.A. River park here. In Santa Monica (photo below) the Ocean Park Boulevard green street project is under construction. Information on that complete street project (including its green bike lanes) here.

Construction underway on the city of Santa Monica's Ocean Park Boulevard complete green street project

News and Events – 25 January 2012

January 25, 2012 § Leave a comment


> Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited the L.A. River this month. Will plentiful federal funding for river revitalization soon follow?

> Will Campbell discovers a sweet new city of Burbank bike path along the Burbank Western Wash.

> Here’s a blog about recycled concrete rain gardens I’ve been working on with Koreatown Youth Community Center.

Sidewalk cyclist next to the new Avenue 19 bike lanes in Lincoln Heights

> The L.A. River Bike path bike lane bikeway takes a detour onto the streets of Lincoln Heights. I really really like bike lanes and I like the idea of getting them in first, then moving on to more expensive bike paths… but I fear the massive parking removal on this one here will trigger a backlash… potentially leading to future city reluctance to remove any parking anywhere ever. Even if  it’s not quite the L.A. River bikeway, it is a new precedent: the city of Los Angeles’ first completed asymmetric one-way bike lanes couplet… a treatment that I think works better on actual one-way streets. How about Cypress and Avenue 18 next?


> Elysian Valley neighbors have been experiencing some pollution issues due to Metrolink operations right across the river at Taylor Yard. Metrolink, So Cal Air Quality Management District, elected officials and the public will meet and discuss how to make the situation better. The meeting takes place TONIGHT – Wednesday January 25, 2012 at 6:30pm at the L.A. River Center, 570 W Avenue 26, L.A. 90065. More information here.

> Creek Freak’s Joe Linton will be speaking as part of the environmental media panel at the Council for Watershed Health forum on Tuesday January 31st 2012. More information at CWH website under events.

> CicLAvia returns Sunday April 15th 2012, starring the 4th Street Bridge over the L.A. River.

Downey Rec Ctr Albion Demolition Kick-Off This Thursday

September 27, 2011 § 3 Comments

Flier for this Thursday's Kick-Off Event - click for full-sized pdf

L.A. Creek Freak readers may remember the city of Los Angeles’ September 2009 acquisition of the 6-acre Albion Dairy site, adjacent to the L.A. River in Lincoln Heights. LACF ran this initial breaking news, a more detailed announcement, and photos of the site.

This week, at 12:30pm on Thursday September 29th 2011, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Councilmember Ed Reyes are hosting a demolition kick-off event. It’s open to the public – please attend and celebrate progress on the city’s newest river park.

An update on the project follows.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Albion Dairy Park Preliminary Designs, Meeting this Thursday

January 25, 2010 § 5 Comments

Design A features a soccer field, native landscape, skate park and bioswale

The city has released two preliminary design options for the new park at the Albion Dairy site in Lincoln Heights. The designs will be discussed at a community meeting coming up this Thursday night January 28th at 6:30pm at Downey Recreation Center. Higher resolution pdfs of the design options are available at the project’s website.

Design Option B which features dog park, skate park, tennis courts, native landscape, and bioswale.

Analysis of and opinions on the designs follows. Come this Thursday to give your input or give input via a three-page online survey hosted by the city (link is on the bottom right.)

« Read the rest of this entry »

Current Photos of the Albion Site

September 23, 2009 § 2 Comments

Albion Street Entrance to Ross Swiss Dairy

Albion Street Entrance to Ross Swiss Dairy

Regarding the city’s acquisition of the Albion Dairy site (and just how many separate blog entries L.A. Creek Freak is capable of squeezing out of a good big story), it seems like a lot of folks read the word “dairy” and get this very pastoral image of cows and rolling grassy hills.  So L.A. Creek Freak headed out to Lincoln Heights this morning to bring our readers some photos of the site as it exists today. Don’t let the word dairy fool you. You can see the site is indeed a fully-paved, industrial distribution center. Lots of 18-wheeler trucks, loading docks, basic industrial buildings, cars a-parking… not a blade of grass to be seen.

More distribution center than dairy
More distribution center than dairy

As our readers can see in the photo below, the Los Angeles River in this area is all concrete. Also visible in the photo are the two active railroad tracks that run between the river and the dai… er… distribution center. In the long run, as river-adjacent properties like this one are acquired, possibilities open up for river access above or below the rails, like these possible design renderings (see the four images at the bottom of the link) for the nearby L.A. State Historic Park.

View from the North Main Street Bridge - lots of trucks visible behind the fence

The west fence of the Albion Dairy site, viewed from the North Main Street Bridge - lots of trucks visible behind the fence

City Purchases 6-acre Albion Dairy Site for River Park

September 22, 2009 § 6 Comments

I was really excited to hear that the city was voting to purchase the Albion Dairy site earlier today, so I did my first ever blog from my phone – actually from council chambers. Here’s the follow-up story with lots more details and links.

First let me say thanks to all involved! Credit for this excellent purchase goes to City Councilmember Ed Reyes, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and also staff from the Community Redevelopment Agency, the Pubic Works Department Bureaus of Engineering and Sanitation, and the City Attorney’s office. Thanks to the mayoral Director of Capital Projects Christopher Espinosa and to Council Deputy Monica Valencia for providing background information to L.A. Creek Freak.

Albion Dairy Site. Dark green is new acquisition, light green is existing Downey Park.

Albion Dairy Site. Dark green is new acquisition, light green is existing Downey Park. Los Angeles River runs vertically on the left.

The Albion Dairy site is a 6.34-acre site located on the northeast side of the Los Angeles River in Lincoln Heights (google map here.) The triangular parcel extends from North Spring Street to nearly North Main Street. It’s adjacent to Downey Park and Recreation Center, and across the river from Los Angeles State Historic Park.

It’s currently in operation as a dairy, but there’re no cows there – it’s more of a distribution center and warehouse sort of thing, with lots of trucks picking up dairy goods. It’s operated by Dean Foods under the Ross Swiss Dairy label; the existing lease of the site will remain through January 2011.

The city has been in negotiations for a few years. I remember hearing some inklings of a project there in 2007 or so… but it wasn’t until today that I heard that the deal had been finalized. At the meeting of the full Los Angeles City Council this morning, the vote was unanimous to approve $17.4M in Proposition O funding for site aquisition and clean-up. The actual vote today was to shift $12.5M from another pot of money already approved for Taylor Yard to add to $5M that had already been approved for the Albion site. The full council action is detailed in this 7-page report and 1-page addendum from the city’s Administrative Officer (CAO.)  The CAO report includes aquisition major deal points, cost breakdowns, and a brief project description. There’s also a 1-page project description sheet from the city’s Bureau of Sanitation.

One interesting and far-sighted aspect of the deal, told to me by Espinosa, is that the owner was helpful in consolidating a Union Pacific railroad easement that runs diagonally through the site, and forms a panhandle into the area along the Downey Park pool (the panhandle is visible at the top of the image above.) With this easement included in the city’s purchase, the city can expand Downey Park to about 10-acres – both above and below North Spring Street. Downey Park has always been adjacent to the river, but never really pertained to it or connected with it. The expanded park property will include water quality features, likely some sort of natural area that would treat street run-off before it enters the river.

It’s going to be a while before the expanded Downey Park opens to the public (and this is probably a good thing with the city’s current major budget woes.) The site will continue to service its dairy business until early 2011. At that point, the city will clean up lingering toxics at the site, which likely exist from industrial uses that pre-dated the current dairy. Then a new Los Angeles River park will be built!

Albion Dairy Purchase!

September 22, 2009 § 3 Comments

Breaking news: The Los Angeles City Council is voting to purchase the 6.3-acre Albion Dairy site! Located in Lincoln Heights along North Spring Street, this will be a new Los Angeles River park. More details later today here at L.A. Creek Freak.

Great Plans for the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Area

March 30, 2009 § 2 Comments

Wildflowers in Bloom this week at the Cornfields

Wildflowers in bloom last week at the Cornfields. Note also the adjacent industrial areas.

The Los Angeles City Planning department held scoping meetings on March 16th 2009 to hear comments on their proposed Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan, known as the CASP. The good news is that CASP has a lot of great features that will transform the area. Among these are: river greenway area set-asides, parking reform, and dozens of miles of bikeways. The somewhat-bad news is that it will take a while. Environmental review will take a year, so the plan will be adopted in 2010. Once the plan goes into effect, over the next couple dozen years, it will gradually guide private and public development.

The CASP covers approximately 660 acres located in the communities of Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park and Chinatown – including the areas around the Chinatown and Lincoln/Cypress Metro Gold Line stations.

The CASP area is today largely industrial. Much of it is older, somewhat-obsolete multi-story industrial. With the state’s purchase of the 35-acre Cornfields Rail Yard (now Los Angeles State Historic Park in progress) in 2001, the arrival of the Metro Gold Line in 2003, and the planned greenways along the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco, the area is changing. Industrial sites are giving way to housing and mixed-use. The CASP attempts to steer this change.

The CASP is environmentally ambitious. The plan is one pilot for the US Green Building Council’s new “LEED-ND” (stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development) – a new green building program for certifying multiple buildings in a neighborhood context.

Some highlights of progressive environmentally-friendly policies in the CASP:

CASP Open Space

Map of planned CASP Open Space

With an overall 15% open space requirement, the CASP plans a significant amount of public green space distributed throughout. Additionally, parcels along the L.A. River and the Arroyo Seco are limited to 50% lot coverage, so that, as development occurs, greenways emerges along these waterways.

The CASP unbundles parking from housing! Currently anyone who buys a condo in Los Angeles pays for two (or more) parking spaces. This is automatic, whether that owner ever parks car/s in them or not. As parking space can cost $20,000 to $40,000+ this requirement typically adds upwards of $50,000 to the purchase price of the condo. Unbundling means that the home and the parking are sold separately. The buyer can chose to buy only as much parking as she or he needs. Bicyclists could purchase none. Single people or small families could purchase just one. This makes housing more affordable, and incentivizes reducing excessive car ownership.
Additional excellent parking reforms include: parking maximums (instead of minimums), bicycle parking requirements, shared parking, parking design requirements, parking meter zones and more. It may not be parking sage Don Shoup‘s paradise, but it goes a long way in that direction.

Bikeways in the CASP.  Red lines are paths, blue lines are lanes.

Map of Planned Bikeways in the CASP. Bike paths show in red, bike lanes in blue.

The CASP plans an impressive network of bike facilities. There will be bike paths along the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco. There will be bike lanes on North Figueroa Street, Avenue 26, Pasadena Avenue, San Fernando Road/Avenue 20, Avenue 19, Barranca Street, Avenue 18, North Broadway, North Spring Street, and North Main Street!

Those are just some of the highlights, there are many more environmental and smart urban design features. For more information, there’s quite a bit of detailed documentation on-line about the CASP:
>Overall CASP Website
>Notice Preparation of Environmental Impact Report
(400KB 4-page pdf)
>Initial Study and CEQA Checklist (3MB 33-page pdf – good 17-page summary)
>Draft CASP Ordinance (14 multi-page pdfs)
>CASP Frequently Asked Questions

(This entry has been cross-posted at L.A. Creek Freak and L.A. Streetsblog )

News and Upcoming Events – March 11 2009

March 11, 2009 § Leave a comment

This week’s leaks that pique creek freaks beaks! (eek!)


>Yesterday in Metblogs, Will Campbell reports that portions of the Ballona Creek Bike Path will be closed and closed some more.

>Yesterday the Eastsider Blog reported that the Los Angeles City Council passed Los Angeles City Councilmember Ed Reyes’ motion directing the city’s Planning Department, General Services Department and River Revitalization Corporation to do the groundwork for a Request for Proposals process for the re-use of the Lincoln Heights Jail. The LA City Historical-Cultural Landmark Lincoln Heights Jail is located on Avenue 19 adjacent to the Los Angeles River – a stone’s throw from its historic confluence with the Arroyo Seco. The initial art deco building was built in 1930 with a less remarkable addition tacked on in 1949. The jail has been closed for many years. Its ground floor has housed a few cultural institutions, including the Bilingual Foundation for the Arts, though it’s best known as a film location.

>On February 24th, Daily News reporter explores home damage attributed to construction on the Moorpark Street Bridge over the Tujunga Wash in Studio City. LAist reports that neighbors fear more of the same with rehabilitation of the nearby Fulton Avenue Bridge over the Los Angeles River.

>Speaking of the river at Fulton Avenue in Sherman Oaks, the Village Gardeners of the Los Angeles River have their own new website which includes an active blog! See below for their Earth Day Clean-Up event.

>Speaking of home damages, On February 7th, the Long Beach Press Telegram reported the latest in a series of local floods damaging homes in West Long Beach (in the Dominguez Slough watershed.) See also the accompanying photo gallery and the follow-up article. Maybe some multi-benefit watershed management strategies could help break this cycle?

Check out recent LA Times blogs coverage of:
> Restoration at Machado Lake in Wilmington (more-or-less at the mouth on the Dominguez Slough Watershed)
> Opening of the new extension of Ralph Dills Park – located on the L.A. River in the city of Paramount
> Replacing of the 1932 Sixth Street Viaduct over the L.A. River. This unfortunate project proposes to put a contemporary 6-lane highway in place of one of our most historic and iconic bridges. The bridge, undermined by internal chemical issues, does need some work, but stay tuned to see if the city can do something that respects its scale and beauty. (Read the comments which include “Who came up with the bland design for the new bridge?”)

>Want to save energy, prevent greenhouse gas emissions and stem the tide of global warming? Worldchanging reports that conserving water is one of the most effective ways to reduce energy use. This is especially true in the city of Los Angeles where our pumping to deliver our water consumes about a quarter of all the energy we generate!


>This Saturday March 14th from 8am to 2pm, North East Trees hosts a day of service to remove invasive plants from the wetlands at Rio de Los Angeles State Park in Cypress Park.

>On Sunday March 15th, Friends of the L.A. River (FoLAR) lead their monthly river walk in Atwater Village. Meet at the end of Dover Street at 3:30pm.

>The L.A. City Planning Department hosts two public hearings about the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan – called the “CASP” (or maybe the CASSP?) The same meeting takes place on Monday March 16th at 3pm and 6pm at Goodwill Industries in Lincoln Heights.

>On Tuesday evenings from 7-9pm March 17th and 24th, L.A. Creek Freak‘s Joe Linton and L.A. Streetsblog‘s Damien Newton will teach our highly-informative internet skills class. Learn how to use easy, free internet applications to promote your non-profit and/or business. Start your own blog!

>Bicycle the Rio Hondo at the unfortunately-named-but-actually-really-fun 24th annual Tour de Sewer on Saturday March 21st.

March for Water on Saturday March 22nd!

March for Water on Saturday March 22nd!

>On Sunday March 22nd from 9am to 3pm, the March for Water will take place. Marchers will walk from Los Angeles State Historic Park to Rio De Los Angeles State Park to raise awareness of bring attention to the present water crisis taking place all over the world, our nation, the state and the city of Los Angeles. Conveners include Urban Semillas, Food and Water Watch, Anahuak Youth Sports Association, Green L.A. Coalition, and many more!

>On Thursday March 26th at 12noon at a Los Angeles Natural History Museum Research and Collections Seminar, L.A. Creak Freek’s Joe Linton will speak on “The Los Angeles River: Its Past, Present and Possible Future.” There’s no cost for the seminar, but if you’re not a member you’ll have to pay to get into the museum.

>On Saturday and Sunday April 17th and 18th from 9am to 12noon, the Village Gardeners of the Los Angeles River invite the public to help clean up, mulch, and plant natives at the Richard Lillard Outdoor Classroom in Sherman Oaks.

>FoLAR’s annual La Gran Limpieza (the Great LA River Clean-Up) will take place on Saturday May 9th.

>The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition hosts their 9th Annual Los Angeles River Ride on Sunday June 7th.

Finding the lost creek in your neighborhood

October 18, 2008 § 1 Comment


Compton Creek

Compton Creek

If you’re a Creekfreak, and you’ve not figured out where the water used to flow in your neighborhood yet, then this post is for you.  From 2001-2003 I mapped the old streams and wetlands of the LA area in Illustrator, and began to lay them out for public consumption.  And then got sucked into other projects.  So here they are, in all their imperfection – but quite legible if you are a map reader.  Just go to the side panel to the page labelled Find a former waterway or wetland near you!


These maps are based on 62,500 scale 1896-1906 USGS maps, 1888 Detail Irrigation Maps, and slightly informed by later 24,000 scale USGS maps.  The overlay maps are not definitive:  the 24,000 scale maps, circa 1919-1930s, show streams not indicated on the earlier, larger scale maps, while showing at the same time considerable stream and wetland losses to development.  In other words, I have a lot more drawing to do.

But this is about you, dear Creekfreak.  If you live in the following areas, you may find a creek or wetland on one of these maps in your neighborhood:

Eagle Rock     Glassell Park     Highland Park     Lincoln Heights     

Cypress Park     Pasadena     South Pasadena     Alhambra

Boyle Heights     East Los Angeles     Downtown     Echo Park     

Silverlake     East Hollywood     Hollywood Hills     Koreatown

Mid-City     West Adams     Culver City     Baldwin Hills

Cheviot Hills     Mar Vista     West Los Angeles     West Hollywood

Beverly Hills     Bel Air     Brentwood     Santa Monica

Venice     Marina del Rey     Inglewood     Hawthorne

Gardena  West Athens     Willowbrook     Watts    

Compton     South Gate     Lynwood     Vernon    

Maywood     Torrance     Carson     Lomita     Wilmington

Long Beach     San Pedro     Palos Verdes     


Happy searching!  And let us know what you think!

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