Recent News – 15 December 2010

December 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

Los Angeles River at Bette Davis Picnic Area - painting by Akiko Crawford - click for larger image at her portfolio blog

Recent news that might be of interest to L.A.’s Creek Freaks: « Read the rest of this entry »

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News and Events – 20 November 2010

November 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Help plan the future of Los Angeles State Historic Park. Click for full flier and announcement at LASHP website.

> Ever wonder when State Parks would create that “world class park” at the Cornfields? The long-stalled planning process for the master plan at Los Angeles State Historic Park is getting underway again.  Due to state budget issues, finalizing of the preliminary designs never happened, and the “interim public use” park at the site has been looking a bit less interim. Attend a community meeting about the future of the park on Thursday December 9th at 7pm at L.A. Conservation Corps, 1400 N. Spring Street, L.A. 90012.

> Ever wonder what the western United States might have looked like if state boundaries followed watersheds? (Well, not even we creek freaks actually wonder that, but I thought it sounded good.) Take a look at John Wesley Powell’s proposed map of watershed-based western states (via Big Think.) Thanks to Melanie Winter of The River Project for bringing this to our attention.

>Ever wonder about the future of that river-adjacent vacant area between the 4th and 6th Street bridges downtown? Blogdowntown, in an article entitled Nothing is Simple Down by the River, tells about competing plans for a jeans factory, expanded Metro rail operations, and a river park.

>Ever wanted to tell your L.A. River story? Join KCET Departures’ story share on Saturday December 4th.

> Ever wanted to get paid to write about the Los Angeles River? The city of Los Angeles’ recently formed River Revitalization Corporation might have a web writer/editor job for you – especially if you’re a “jack [or perhaps jill?] of all trades” good at “weblinking” and “photo cropping.” Respond to this part-time job posting at Craigslist:

A Los Angeles based non-profit corporation is looking for a part-time website supervisor who is a writer, editor, photo editor and more. We are launching in January a new website that is all about the Los Angeles River: a recreational guide, photo gallery, revitalization information, news, event guide, etc. The candidate should be self-motivated, able to work at home, set their own schedules and deadlines, a skilled web pro, a careful content checker and a totally responsible professional. A minimum of two years of writing and editing of professional consumer publications and two years of website creation/maintenance experience is required. The candidate should be proficient in maintaining websites, including using CMS tools, weblinking, photo cropping, resizing, and uploading. This jack of all trades will be doing the primary website supervision, updating, user content review, blog supervision, news linking and more. You will need three professional references and a salary history.

Passion and experience with outdoor recreation and/or the L.A. River is real plus.

•Compensation: Monthly salary to be negotiated once the time requirements are better understood.
•This is a part-time job.

Read the full ad and respond here. L.A. Creek Freak is looking forward to many more L.A. River websites! The more the merrier!

News and Events – 19 April 2010

April 19, 2010 § 2 Comments

Round-up of Creek Freak News:

>In an exclusive, dated April 1st 2010, the L.A. Eastside blog reports on a highly secretive plan underway for the Army Corps of Engineers to radically alter the course of the Los Angeles River. The project will once-and-for-all settle the question of whether Echo Park is located in L.A.’s “eastside.”  

>The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports on weed abatement and progress on the new 24-acre San Gabriel River park at the Duck Farm property – along the 605 Freeway between the 10 Freeway and 60 Freeways – across the river from South El Monte.  

>Harvesting rainwater is happening all over. Read accounts by Sherri Akers and Andy Lipkis about their home rainwater harvesting experiences. Did you know that rainwater makes for better homebrew beer, too?

Historic Creeks of San Francisco - via SF Streetsblog and the Oakland Museum of California

>San Francisco Streetsblog ran an excellent three-part series (links: one, two, three) on daylighting urban creeks, focused on quite a bit of the history of what’s been done in the bay area, and throughout the world. It also covers some exciting daylighting projects underway and proposed for San Francisco. Maybe L.A. Streetsblog (one of my favorite local blogs) will do some coverage here too? 

>Los Angeles State Historic Park hosted an Earth Day tree planting last Saturday (s0rry I didn’t get to promoting this event in advance.) The planting plans look extensive – focused at the north end of the park. Overall, though, it seems like we’re enhancing the temporary park and retreating from the bigger master planning process – on hold due to state budget crises. Maybe that’s a good thing, for now?

>Bid for your chance to have lunch with movie star Daphne Zuniga and support the cause of the Los Angeles River Revitalizaion Corportation (RRC.)

> We’ve added two new creeky blogs to our blogroll. Check out Peter Bennet’s photography (which we’ve run before) at Citizen of the Planet, and track the Friends of Ballona Wetlands via their new Ballona Blog

>The L.A. County Board of Supervisors is honoring me, Joe Linton, one-third of L.A. Creek Freak, with its Green Leadership Award. They’re also honoring the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council for work on their Elmer Avenue watershed management project in Sun Valley (which we’ll cover one of these days.) Read the county’s press release, and if you want, come the supervisor’s meeting tomorrow morning where they’ll be giving out the awards.

Upcoming Events of Interest to Creek Freaks:

>Urban Photo Adventures photographer Ken Haber’s L.A. River photos are featured in the Annenberg Space for Photography’s exhbition Water: Our Thirsty World – open now through June 13th.

>The Army Corps of Engineers is hosting a community input workshop this Saturday April 24th for feedback on future plans for habitat and recreation in the Sepulveda Basin. The meeting will be from 10am to 12:30pm at the Sepulveda Garden Center at 16633 Magnolia Blvd. in Encino 91406.

>The L.A. River boating expedition documentary Rock the Boat will screen at Los Angeles Eco-Village on Saturday May 8th 2010. Basic info here, more details coming soon.

>Friends of the Los Angeles River’s annual Great Los Angeles River Clean-up takes place Saturday May 8th!

News and Events – 12 March 2010

March 12, 2010 § 1 Comment

NEWS FLOW:

Car being pulled from the L.A. River - photo from Long Beach Fire Department website

>Yesterday morning, near the L.A. River’s mouth near downtown Long Beach,  a driver crashed her car through the guardrail on the 710 Freeway and plunged into the L.A. River, where it’s actually about 20-feet deep. Long Beach firefighters rescued her; read more at their website. Television coverage here.

CURRENT EVENTS:

>World Water Day Los Angeles extravaganza is this Sunday March 14th from 9:30am to 3:30pm at the L.A. County Natural History Museum. Read about it on L.A. Creek Freak and even Facebook.

>Jenny Price lead’s Friends of the L.A. River’s river tour, this Sunday March 14th, from 9:30am to 4:30pm.

Next Thursday - check out what Jessica's students have been up to!

>Creek Freak Jessica Hall’s Landscape Architecture students show their designs for how L.A. River restoration can interface with community and rail – on Thursday March 18, 2010 from 3pm-7pm at the River Center in Cypress Park.

UPDATED- Added: >Los Angeles State Historic Park hosts a Go Wild for Wildflowers – interpretive walk showcasing the park’s abundant… you guessed it… wildflowers! It’s free and at 2pm on Saturday March 20th, 2010. Tour the wildflowers virtually, too, via the park’s very own blog.

>Los Angeles County Bicycle Master Plan public meetings continue on March 24th and 25th. Give them input – online or in person – regarding what waterway bike path improvements you’d like to see. Creek Freak explains the county plan here.

> The Theodore Payne Foundation – fine purveyors of California Native landscaping – has a bunch going on:

  • The California Wildflower Hotline  Now through May 31 2010 – Find out about the most spectacular wildflower sites throughout Southern and Central California – updated every Thursday evening with new information. Use link or call  (818)768-3533. Roaming charges may apply.
  • Spring discount plant sale & Open House Saturday, Saturday March 27, 2010, 8:30am-4:30pm at TPF’s Nursery in Sun Valley.
  • Annual Native Plant Garden Tour takes place Saturday and Sunday, April 10 and 11, 2010, from 10am to 4pm – including a free lecture event:  In California, the Natives Are Friendly with Isabelle Greene on Saturday, April 10, 2010, at 6:30pm at Barnsdall Gallery Theatre in Hollywood.

>The L.A. River boating expedition documentary Rock the Boat will screen at Los Angeles Eco-Village on Saturday May 8th 2010. Basic info here, more details coming soon.

L.A. State Historic Park Plan Images

January 8, 2009 § 1 Comment

Planned wetlands and nature center at north end of Los Angeles State Historic Park

Planned wetlands and nature center at north end of Los Angeles State Historic Park

This blog is a follow-up to a previous post about the new plans for Los Angeles State Historic Park, affectionately known as the Cornfields.  The images presented at the November 20th public meeting came on-line in mid-December, and I am sharing a few of them with you here.  For the full presentation, with plenty of  exciting images, see California State Parks’ website.  The design team is headed by Hargreaves Associates landscape architects.

The existing park at the site is called the IPU (for Interim Public Use) – a temporary park while the state plans and funds the permanent park, which is not expected to be built until 2011 – and that’s just the date for the planned first phase.

Historic Photo of the Pedestrian Bridge that spanned the Cornfield Yards (extending from Spring to Broadway)

Historic Photo of the Pedestrian Bridge that spanned the Cornfield Yards (extended from Spring to Broadway, no longer standing)

View of South End of planned park - including new contemporary pedestrian "fountain bridge" echoing the former footbridge

View of South End of planned park - including new contemporary pedestrian "fountain bridge" echoing the former footbridge

The images I found most dramatic are the following proposed transformation of the area between the park and the river.  To complete this will require some additional property, so don’t look for it to happen in phase one.

Phase 1

Phase 1 - World-Class park on State Parks' 32+acre site - ending at Baker Street - about 100' from the LA River

Phase 2

Phase 2 - Aquisition and greening of existing Metro "triangle parcel" - Baker Street narrowed - park extends to river's edge

Phase 3

Phase 3 - additional acquisition of non-historic buildings (including current Farmlab) - expansion of wetlands habitat

Phase 4

Phase 4 - Park graded to slope down to naturalized river - Baker Street eliminated - below-grade river access under existing railroad tracks.

(My apologies that some of these images, despite my high-tech prowess, have been somewhat cropped and distorted. Please see them in their full glorious proportions and detail at State Parks website.)

New Designs for L.A. State Historic Park

November 21, 2008 § 3 Comments

Rendering of Planned Los Angeles State Historic Park - View toward Downtown Los Angeles

Rendering of Planned Los Angeles State Historic Park. Downtown Los Angeles is in the background. The foreground of the picture shows the planned "fountain bridge" connection to North Broadway on the right.

At a meeting this evening, California State Parks presented the latest plans for Los Angeles State Historic Park.  The 32-acre site is the former Cornfield Yard – a vacant former railyard located between Chinatown and the Los Angeles River – and between Spring Street and North Broadway.  There’s a temporary 14-acre park at the site today – called the “Interim Public Use” park.

Tonight’s meeting was officially the start of State Parks’ environmental review process for the Los Angeles State Historic Park Master Development Plan.  They’ve issued a Notice of Preparation requesting comments on the scope of their environmental review.  Scoping comments are due by December 18th and can be emailed to enviro@parks.ca.gov

Plan View of the New Park

Plan View of the New Los Angles State Historic Park

For folks who’ve been tracking the designs, they haven’t changed all that much.  In fact, I am running images from the park presentations from August.  The press person I spoke with tonight stated that the designs shown tonight should be available on-line – by the time you read this, they’ll probably be available on the State Parks webpage (which includes full-size versions of the images shown here.)  The designs were introduced by the park’s designers from Hargreaves Associates.

The park will have a pedestrian “fountain bridge” connected to North Broadway.  The bridge will echo the original trestle bridge that spanned the site historically, which enabled workers to get from Broadway to get to industrial jobs at the yard and in areas east of it.  The bridge is an important connection, as currently, the bluffs and the Metro Gold Line train are barriers to access for communities west of the site, including Chinatown and Solano Canyon.  At least two additional pedestrian access ways are proposed, but will depend on land not currently under State Parks control.  One is a proposed at-grade connection into the heart of Chinatown.  The walkway would go under the elevated Gold Line Train through what is currently a parking lot and connect to North Broadway near Gin Ling Way.  Another connection would be along the Los Angeles River.

The design of the site goes from more urban at the Chinatown end to more natural at the Los Angeles River end.  As one walks into the park from the Chinatown Metro Gold Line State, one first encounters an urban plaza, about 3 acres, which will include a children’s play area, fountains, and gardens.  These features are configured in parallel lines recapitulating the former rail tracks.  Along Spring Street will be a 3-story “welcome station” building, where the fountain bridge touches down.  The building will feature rooftop views, cafe, bookstore, and electronic historical exhibits. 

The designs call for a stage to be located at the site of the former railway roundhouse, with the stage featuring some portions of the now-buried roundhouse foundations (revealed in recent archaeological excavations.)  The stage would be used for large events, such as concerts.  Concert goers would occupy the adjacent great lawn… which is (unfortunately, in my opinion) becoming a little less great with successive designs.  In Hargreaves’ original competition-winning entry, there was a 15-acres great lawn – it took up nearly half the site.  Last summer it shrank to something like 11 acres… tonight it was 8 1/2.  That’s still a good sized plot of grass for a park in the center of Los Angeles – I just hope it doesn’t get any smaller.  I am a fan of flexible un-programmed spaces like a great lawn that can be used for a pick-up soccer game one day, then an outdoor film festival the next.

LA State Historic Park's Ecology Center and Wetlands

LA State Historic Park Ecology Center and Wetlands

Continuing northeast, the site winds into more formalized garden spaces which reflect California’s historical landscapes.  Five historical timeline paths run throughout the site, telling specific histories including water and industry. As one gets close to the river, one encounters the second building on the site, called the “ecology center,” which is surrounded by wetlands.  The designers are exloring using a solar- or hydro-powered pump to import water from the adjacent Los Angeles River.

The images that actually got audience applause were a look further into the future, when the park could connect to the river.  Additional parcels would need to be purchased, so it would be phase 2 (or probably phase 7+.)  Concept images showed the river edge of the park extending from the North Broadway Bridge to the North Spring Street Bridge.

Audience members were generally excited about the project, though they expressed concerns including traffic and parking (reminding me that we’re still in Los Angeles), the absence of commemoration of the water wheel that was at the site, and connections between the park and the adjacent Chinatown Gold Line Station.  Joe Edmiston, head of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, suggested that State Parks forego constructing any buildings on the site, and instead use funds purchase the bluff land above the park and the parcels along the river.  This additional acreage would connect LASHP with the river and with Elysian Park.

Though neither the design team nor the agency staff would comment on cost estimates, my sense is that it will be at least $60-70M for just the initial park and probably double that when we really make the connections to the River and to points west of the park.  State Parks has some of this money (rumored to $20-30M) set aside from past park bonds, so there are some serious funding needs to be covered before we proceed with construction.  Maybe Mayor Villaraigosa get this included in President Obama’s economic stimulus package?

The final schematic design is supposed to be complete in February 2009.  The earliest planned grand opening would be in 2012 and that’s likely to be phase one.

Recent News, Upcoming Events 2008 October 30

October 30, 2008 § Leave a comment

A sporadic consolidation of news and events designed to appeal to the discriminating tastes of local creek freaks:

The endangered Arroyo Toad (public domain photo from Wikipedia)

The endangered Arroyo Toad (public domain photo from Wikipedia)

Amplexus is the technical term for toad nooky. KPCC environmental reporter Ilsa Setziol blogs on amphibian species found in local mountain waterways.

Jenny price recently became an artist. Accidentally.  Price, a person who can really write about urban nature, blogs on the need for artists’ imagination to reconnect our populace with our local rivers.  Creek Freaks should get hip to her role as an urban ranger, read Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in L.A., and sign-up for LA River tours that she leads.

Anahuak is “not just about soccer anymore,” Macias said. “It’s about making good citizens. That’s why I feel satisfaction. Doing this has made me feel that I have a mission.”  The Los Angeles Times reports on Raul Macias, the man behind the youth soccer league that’s revitalizing the Los Angeles River and connecting communities with nature.  (Via The City Project blog.)

I picked up a paddle to make a point about protecting the integrity of our waters.  Threatened with suspension, Los Angeles River kayaker and federal Army Corps of Engineers biologist Heather Wylie pens an editorial for the Los Angeles Times.  (Lest you misinterpret, the Times states that “The opinions expressed are her own and do not reflect the official views of the [Army] Corps. [of Engineers]”)

Upcoming Events:

Election Day is Tuesday November 4th!  Vote like your local creek depended on it.

Come see the city of Los Angeles’ latest proposals for the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan at two open house meetings: Thursday November 6th at 6pm at Ann Street School and Saturday November 8th at 10am at Goodwill.

Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti invites you to “A Day on the River” on Saturday November 8th from 9am to 11:30am at Crystal Street Bicycle Park in Elysian Valley.

Urban Photo Adventures hosts a Los Angeles River photography tour on November 8th and 9th.  Includes presentations by blogger, author and procrastinator Joe Linton.

The city of Los Angeles’ Ad Hoc River Committee meets on Monday November 17th at 3pm at City Hall.

Check out the latest designs for Los Angeles State Historic Park on Thursday November 20th at 6:30pm at the Los Angeles Conservation Corps Clean and Green headquarters.

Friends of the Los Angeles River offers two new tours: Saturday November 22nd bike tour (led by Ramona Marks) and Sunday December 7th lower Los Angeles River bus tour (led by Jenny Price.)

Don’t forget about the downtown Los Angeles Public Library’s map exhibition, which closes January 22nd 2009.

(Thanks to the city of Los Angeles’ river revitalization headlines for posting some of these events, and especially their associated documents.)

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