Woodman Avenue, Bicycles and Fish

February 28, 2014 § 3 Comments

Rainfall makes a creek out of the newly completed Woodman Avenue green street medians.

This morning’s rainfall makes a creek out of the newly completed Woodman Avenue green street medians.

I just posted an article at L.A. Streetsblog that wouldn’t be out of place at L.A. Creek Freak.

It’s the first part of a series where I’ll be exploring the connections between streets and creeks. I’ll be highlighting various green street projects, this article shows off the recently opened  Woodman Avenue Multi-Beneficial Stormwater Capture Project – a collaboration of The River Project and the City of Los Angeles.

Progress on West Valley River Bridges and Bike Path

June 1, 2012 § 6 Comments

Steelhead trout medallion on the new Tampa Avenue Bridge over the L.A. River

I got a chance to bike in the West San Fernando Valley last week, and took a few photos of the Los Angeles River bike path project under construction. It’s a construction site right now, but a lot of the hardscape – new bridges and bridge undercrossings – appears more-or-less done.

The 2.2-mile bike path will extend from the Vanalden Avenue footbridge to Hartland Street (immediately upstream/west of Mason Avenue.) The first phase of the bike path (0.8 mile from Vanalden Avenue to Corbin Avenue) had been projected to be open around October 2012. I don’t know the timeline for subsequent phases, but it seems like the upstream construction is already underway, so the extension from Corbin to Winnetka shouldn’t take a whole lot longer.  « Read the rest of this entry »

On a Kayak in a River in a Valley in Los Angeles

September 4, 2011 § 8 Comments

Kayaking the Los Angeles River in the middle of the San Fernando Valley

I got a chance to kayak the L.A. River yesterday. I’ve been kayaking in the river a few times here and there, and most memorably the incredibly wonderful three-day expedition in 2008. Yesterday was the first time I officially, legally, kayaked with a permit!

It was great.

The program is called Paddle the Los Angeles River. Like their Facebook page here. In case readers want to do participate, I have to warn you that all their slots sold out in 10 minutes. It’s a one-season pilot program, and, hopefully, if all goes well, it’ll come back around again. It’s presented by the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, with assists from the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA), The River Project, Los Angeles River Expeditions, Friends of the L.A. River, and Urban Semillas. It’s been covered all over tv, print and internet media, so I am not going to give a huge amount of background, but kudos to leadership from George Wolfe and Los Angeles City Councilmember Ed Reyes. (And my apologies for Creek Freak not getting to cover this sooner.)  « Read the rest of this entry »

Another creek faces the pipe – San Fernando Valley edition

March 28, 2011 § 9 Comments

April 4th is the deadline to give comment on a draft EIR that if approved will consign another small creek to permanent pipe-age in the City of LA.

[Updated paragraph] Download  the draft EIR from this City of LA site by clicking Environmental/Draft EIR in the left panel of that page. Then click on the bold-font title of The Village at Westfield Topanga to be taken to a download site.  That bold font fooled me when I first wrote this post, didn’t understand that it was a hyperlink. Thanks to readers for setting me straight! It can also be found at the Central Library, and Woodland Hills, Canoga Park and Platt Branch libraries or purchased on CD-Rom.

The creek – located at Owensmouth and Victory in the San Fernando Valley, has been dubbed Owensmouth Creek by locals. Its history is a little tricky to me, as it doesn’t appear on historical USGS maps.  GIS data from the County of Los Angeles, however, does indicate what looks to be a diversion of drainage from Topanga Canyon Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley, labelled as an open channel.  Navigate LA calls it a city stormdrain, D-17768. But more incontrovertible is photography. Jim Anderson, of the Woodland Hills Warner Center Neighborhood Council, shared with me a photo of the threatened waterway.

Destined for a pipe? Photo: Roger Gerrish, provided courtey Jim Anderson.

Channel?  Bed?  Banks?  Sediment? Water (including seasonal)? Direction of Flow?

Looks like we’ve got a stream that meets the City’s definition. So why again is this small edge of the property being piped and paved, not set aside as a public park, or dare we suggest, part of the Low Impact Development/stormwater mitigation plan?

I’m told it’s needed for part of a Costco members’ service station at the planned Village at Westfield Topanga, folks.

I’ll just leave us all to ponder that for now.

Coverage in the Daily News here.

Send comments by 4/4 to:

Elva Nuño-O’Donnell, City Planner
City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning
6262 Van Nuys Boulevard, Room 351
Los Angeles, California 91401
(818) 374-5070 (fax)

West Valley River Bike Path Groundbreaking Tomorrow

March 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

L.A. River Greenway groundbreaking this Thursday March 10th at 2:30pm - click for larger flier pdf file

Join Los Angeles City Councilmember Dennis Zine for the groundbreaking of the West Valley Los Angeles River Greenway. The ceremony takes place tomorrow – at 2:30pm on Thursday March 10th 2011 on the southern bank of the Los Angeles River just upstream of the Vanalden Avenue Pedestrian Bridge.

L.A. Creek Freek reported on this project earlier – backgrounding it in a 2008 article,  then reporting on construction and funding last year. See those articles for details. Briefly, the multi-phase project includes 2 miles of bike path (from Vanalden Avenue to Corbin Avenue) and river-friendly landscaping and entry-point mini-parks. It’s being done in conjunction with bridge retrofit projects on Vanowen, Winnetka and Tampa.

Come on down and celebrate the groundbreaking tomorrow!

LA Public Works Board approves West Valley Greenway Funding

September 1, 2010 § 1 Comment

'Charles Weeks, Visionary Founder of Winnetka' artwork for Winnetka Avenue Bridge, by Cheri Gaulke, click image for additional Gaulke bridge artwork in last week's article

At this morning’s meeting, the Los Angeles City Board of Public Works  awarded a contract for Phase 1 of Los Angeles River bikeway and greenway construction for the West San Fernando Valley. The initial  phase (of a three-phase project) extends 0.8-miles from Corbin Avenue to Vanalden Avenue. The full 2-mile project will go from just above Mason Avenue all the way to Vanalden  in the communities of Winnetka and Reseda, respectively (map below.) This  landscaped grade-separated bike path will be the first Los Angeles River revitalization project implemented upstream of the Sepulveda Basin. 

Creek Freak reported briefly on this project in 2008, then again last week after I noticed construction on Winnetka. Today’s approval wasn’t controversial or significantly different than what we shared earlier, but it does clarify some of the timeline, scope, etc. What follows is a somewhat dry description of all the construction project phases… oh boy! 

« Read the rest of this entry »

Bridge and Bikeway Construction in West San Fernando Valley

August 26, 2010 § 25 Comments

Illustration of Tampa Avenue Bridge design, including Cheri Gaulke's medallions with steelhead and coyote, image courtesy city of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering

Construction is underway on a couple of Los Angeles River bridge retrofit and widening projects in the west San Fernando Valley. Specifically work is proceeding on the Tampa Avenue Bridge and Winnetka Avenue Bridge in the Valley communities of Reseda and Winnetka, not far from Los Angeles Pierce College. The bridge projects include river- and historic-themed artwork, a portion of the Los Angeles River bike path, and native landscaping.

Bridge, with bikeway and greenway, construction at Winnetka Avenue

Back in Novemer 2008, Creek Freak reported that this project was one of two L.A. River bike path sections that the city was gradually proceeding with. The new path will be two miles on the south bank, from Mason Avenue to VanAlden Avenue, including grade-separated underpasses at Vanowen Street, Winnetka Avenue, Corbin Avenue, and Tampa Avenue. « Read the rest of this entry »

Development Proposes Platform Over the Tujunga Wash at Victory Blvd

October 13, 2009 § 9 Comments

Site plan for The Plaza at the Glen proposed development. Tujunga Wash runs diagonally from the upper left to the lower center of the plan. Image from Dasher Lawless, Inc website. Click for larger version and additional images.

Site plan for The Plaza at the Glen proposed development. The unlabeled Tujunga Wash runs diagonally from the upper left to the lower center of the plan. Image from Dasher Lawless, Inc website. Click for larger version and additional images.

A 12.2-acre mixed use development called “The Plaza at the Glen” is proposed for both sides of the Tujunga Wash on the north side of Victory Boulevard west of Coldwater Canyon Avenue. That’s in the east San Fernando Valley, a half-mile upstream from L.A. Valley College where the concrete walls of the Tujunga Wash feature the Great Wall of Los Angeles mural. The proposed development site is currently the site of the Victory Plaza shopping center, and it straddles the middle of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority’s mile-mile long Tujunga Wash Greenway Restoration project wjhich extends along both sides of the wash from Oxnard Street to Vanowen Street.

L.A. Creek Freak found out about the project via an article on the usually insightful Curbed L.A. blog, which stated “In a savvy move, there’re also plans for a transit plaza over the Tujunga Wash that will connect the DASH with the Orange Line.” This L.A. Creek Freak is actually quite a fan of transit-oriented walkable density, and overall the project actually looks pretty good. I don’t find the idea of putting more lids over our already threatened waterways to be “savvy” … more like “nearsighted”.

While it’s good, maybe even savvy, to link projects like this with transit, it seems unnecessary to carve out this transit plaza turnout, which will more likely serve to delay the Van Nuys/Studio City DASH by giving it an extra little dog-leg (on top of the proposed additional loop, which I like.) Why not just run those DASH shuttles on Victory Blvd? Improve the transit stops there, which could also support the Metro 164 bus line and activate the boulevard. The transit plaza feels more like the project is turning its back to the street; emphasizing enclosed private space at the expense of livelier public space.

It would be better if the project could actually strengthen its interface with the existing park on the Tujunga Wash. The 1996 Los Angeles River Master Plan and the current Bicycle Master Plan draft update designate this area for a bike path, which the project should interface with. The project could strengthen Tujunga Wash’s bike and pedestrian connections with the Metro Orange Line, including that line’s bike and walk paths. Perhaps the development could build a portion of the bike path? Better yet and more expensive, the project could benefit greatly by restoring a portion of the Tujunga Wash as a park amenity – as a project draw! Here’s an example of where that has been proposed for development along Compton Creek.

L.A. Creek Freak will be keeping an eye on this proposal… which is probably more likely to be defeated by a weak economy than by watershed concerns. If readers learn more about developments on this project (or other development impinging on local waterways) please let us know.

Images of Proposal for Studio City Golf and Tennis Site

August 15, 2009 § 1 Comment

Studio City River Park Proposal

Studio City River Park Proposal

In October 2009, L.A. Creek Freak reported details about a proposed new Los Angeles River Park at the current site of Studio City Golf and Tennis; for text explaining this proposal, see that earlier post. At the time, the visuals weren’t available for the press. I later received them from Esther Feldman, the president of Community Conservancy International. I forgot to run them at the time…

Recently I attended a meeting hosted by California Senators Judy Chiu and Fran Pavely to present and discuss river and waterway projects in the San Fernando Valley, and I saw another presentation on what’s now called the Studio City “Los Angeles River Natural Park” proposal. Below are the images. The group, which emerged from the Studio City Residents Association, promoting this project now has its own website: Save L.A. River Open Space. The site includes these images in a downloadable color Vision and Design report (pdf.)  If you’re interested in getting involved in this project email “saveopenspace [at] SLAROS.org”

Overall Concept Design

Overall Concept Design

 The overall design features multi-use green space on the site, and trail connections along the river.

Habitat and Open Space Elements

Habitat and Open Space Elements

 Habitat elements include preserving existing trees, and adding a new creekbed bioswale that drains to the river.

Sub-Watershed Drainage Area

Sub-Watershed Drainage Area

 The park would treat stormwater from the surrounding neighborhood.

Water Quality Improvement Elements

Water Quality Improvement Elements

 Water quality features would include the main large creekbed bioswale (receiving rainwater from street run-off), cisterns, and infiltration areas. 

Recreational Elements
Recreational Elements

The existing (golf and tennis) uses would be preserved, though with smaller footprints.

Public Access via foot, bike, bus, and car
Public Access via foot, bike, bus, and car

Access to the site would be mainly via bike and walk paths along the river.

For higher resolution images and additional details, click here or on an image to download the report.

Images of Possible River Improvements at Universal

January 17, 2009 § 2 Comments


Rendering of Potential LA River Greenway upstream of Universal (view southwest from Lankershim Bridge)

Rendering of Potential LA River Greenway upstream of Universal (view southwest from Lankershim Bridge)

In an earlier entry, Jessica mentioned Universal’s planned expansion and its potential impacts on the Los Angeles River which runs along its northern edge.  Universal is looking to expand and renovate its facilities.  This project is currently under environmental review.  Bicyclists and river advocates are urging Universal to include the river bikeway and greenway as part of their development; the studio has been somewhat resistant to allowing a publicly accessible greenway to run along their backlot.

Context Map - the river is running horizontally here, with Universal in the lower left corner

Context Map - the Los Angeles River is running horizontally through the middle, with Universal in the lower right corner and the 101 Freeway diagonally on the left.

Here’s where I confess that I haven’t followed this one really closely… and I had been holding off running these images until I get more background, but then I decided to run them anyway, because I think they look great, and it’s important to get them out while the issues are still before us.

These designs were commissioned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to show a possible mitigation alternative that would be located just west of Universal.  The project would extend from Lankershim to the 101 Freeway and would literally bridge together the top and bottom of Weddington Park.  Thanks to Mia Lehrer + Associates for creating these renderings and for providing them to creek freak.  This alternative was provided to Universal during their environmental review comment process, and we’ll conintue to track the planned Universal development. 

Proposed Bridge over Los Angeles Connecting Greenways along North and South Weddington Park

Proposed Bridge over Los Angeles River connecting Greenways along North and South Weddington Park


Proposed Greenway along the East Fork of the Tujunga Wash (parallels the 101 Freeway and enters the LA River at Weddington Park)

Proposed Greenway along the East Fork of the Tujunga Wash (parallels the 101 Freeway and enters the LA River at Weddington Park)

If any knowledgable readers are interested in contributing a guest blog or comments or additional background on the Universal project, please add comments below, or contact us at lacreekfreak {at} gmail {dot} com.

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