A developer’s option could take the rio out of Rio de Los Angeles State Park

December 21, 2011 § 9 Comments

[Updated with corrected development costs.  Thanks to Melanie Winter at The River Project for the corrections.]

Things are about to get a little ridiculous over by the RIO DE LOS ANGELES State Park.  Because that whole Rio de Los Angeles part could potentially be blocked from that State Park part by a wall of industrial development.  Kids, come and play soccer over by this…well never mind.

Here’s the shortish explanation:  Anyone remember that huge battle to buy the Taylor Yards and create a vision for a riverside park(1,2), with the potential for eventual naturalization of the river along this largest underutilized brownfield parcel on the river?  We got 40 acres and developed parkland along San Fernando Road for something like $45 million, with another parcel (aka G2) between that and the river.  (We also got an 18-acre strip, G1, along the river further upstream for an additional $10.7m- A link to parcels and ownership is here.)  Parcel G2 (that really should be river floodplain) is up for grabs.   Developer Trammel Crow appears to be an interested buyer in G2, and is apparently talking industrial development.  Is this a ploy – common enough in local environmental conservation/acquisition efforts –  to up the property value with entitlements and re-sell to the City/State for a big return?  And who would take on remediation costs in such a scenario?  Who knows.  Why even let the situation get to that point?  Here’s a link to a petition, sponsored by The River Project, an organization that’s carried the Taylor Yard torch from early on, to Trammel Crow asking them to withdraw their interest in exercising their option to buy.  Phew, that’s a mouthful.  But hopefully correctly stated.

I’m a little confused why/if the City/State didn’t have an option to buy this parcel, and why “railbanking,” something the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy makes look so doable never seems to be so in LA.

Anyway…we need our developers to share our vision of a livable Los Angeles – and to put their resources towards making it happen.  This action seems like the wrong direction when visions of a Los Angeles living with natural processes is actually becoming chic.   This is even more humiliating when you see how Chicago has managed to coalesce around a really big vision of a 140,000 acre conversion of brownfields to wildlands.  (Yes, you just read 140,000.)  A higher quality of life supports multiple returns on investment, so what’s the big?

Some of Joe’s previous posts related to the Taylor Yards/Rio de Los Angeles State Park:

Demolition at the Taylor Yards

What’s the Plan

Touring Native Plantings at the Rio de Los Angeles State Park

Touring Native Plantings at Rio De Los Angeles State Park

March 9, 2010 § 4 Comments

Coreopsis flowers in bloom at Rio De Los Angeles State Park

I got a chance to tour Rio de Los Angeles State Park yesterday morning as part of a tour inspecting work North East Trees had recently completed. NET’s work was part of a Caltrans Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation (EEM) grant. The work was mostly planting of native trees and shrubs. As with my recent visit to La Culebra, due to the nice wet El Niño season, the vegetation at RDLASP is looking very green and lush. What follows is mostly a photo essay of what I saw.

The park's low-lying wetland area is a full-on pond after recent rains

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Demolition at Taylor Yard

October 15, 2009 § 3 Comments

Rails being dismantled at Taylor Yard

Rails being dismantled at Taylor Yard

I met up with a Los Angeles Times reporter at Rio de Los Angeles State Park today. He’s writing a story on how the planned state high-speed rail could hinder or help river revitalization, and I will link to his story when it runs. What I saw today that’s also newsworthy is that there’s serious demolition going down at what’s left of Taylor Yard. A sharp-eyed reader had emailed me about this a week ago, but today was the first day I actually saw it.

A brief background on Taylor Yard, a 243-acre former Southern Pacific railroad switching yard. It’s located between San Fernando Road and the Los Angeles River, from the 2 Freeway to almost the 110 Freeway. It’s the biggest undeveloped site along pretty much the entire length of the Los Angeles River, hence a huge opportunity for large scale restoration… though it does have some issues with very serious toxins from about a century of locomotive engine maintenance. Small portions of the yard have been redeveloped for light industrial uses, but one of the most egregious development proposals was blocked by a community coalition. After preventing proposed development, California State Parks purchased a 40-acre parcel (Parcel D) and an additional 20-acre parcel (the bowtie area of Parcel G.) Parcel D is now the well-loved Rio de Los Angeles State Park, which is a joint project of the state and the city of Los Angeles. The park features 20 acres of active recreation fields and 20 acres of restored habitat. In the eyes of community members, creek freaks, and the city’s master plan, the vision for the site is a 100+acre river park.

Today there were bulldozers and other construction vehicles demolishing the large white buildings where locomotive engine maintenance took place while the yard was active. The buildings are in Parcel G. I couldn’t get too close, but here’s an image – upper half of the building looks like it’s standing on stilts because the lower part of the walls has been demolished:

The large white buildings being demolished. Photo taken from the access road train bridge, looking upstream.

The large white buildings being demolished. Photo taken from the access road train bridge, looking upstream.

I confess that I don’t know why this is happening now… or what the land is being prepared for. There had been a push by Assemblymember Kevin de Leon for State Parks to purchase the remainder of Parcel G… but I hadn’t heard any news of that recently… and I suspect that the state’s serious budget shortfalls make this kind of purchase very difficult at this time. If anyone out there can shed more light on what’s going on with the demolition at Taylor Yard, please post information in the comments.

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