Recent News – 19 January 2011

January 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

> Watch this excellent video One Plastic Beach; it’s about Northern California artists Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang who create beautiful art out of massive amounts of plastic that was ashore. They make an eloquent critique of plastic pollution in our oceans. Also check out the artists’ website and blog. Thanks filmmakers Eric Slatkin and Tess Thackara. (h/t Jackie Wei)

> Meredith McKenzie has been blogging up a storm over at ArroyoLover. Read her latest posts on:

> Public comments on Universal’s Draft Environmental Impact Report are due by February 4th 2011. I haven’t paid close enough attention to this item (guest blogger invitation!), but, my understanding is that the situation hasn’t changed much since this 2008 L.A. Times article covered studio opposition to the L.A. River bike path. There’s no website for public comments. If you want to get in touch with folks let us know via comments below.

> North East Trees blog reports on construction activity at their Garvanza Park rainwater harvesting project.

> Travelin’ Local reports on three Elysian Valley L.A. River pocket parks (Steelhead, Osos, and Egret) and the De Anza Trail.

Farther afield:

> Circle of Blue reports on a Michigan court decision that’s strengthening river protections – so rare!

> Rain-swolen rivers in Australia: watch scary videos of the Brisbane River and flash flooding in Toowoomba.


Commentary on the River through Universal

February 4, 2009 § Leave a comment

What the Los Angeles River could look like through Universal (Image from Los Angeles City Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan)

What the Los Angeles River could look like through Universal (Image from Los Angeles City Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan - for a stretch of the river in Canoga Park)

A few weeks ago I shared some images of possible river improvements that would connect the two halves of Weddington Park, immediately upstream of Universal. These images are one proposed mitigation for development/expansion that Universal is proposing. Today I present an excellent public comment letter that Carol Armstrong of the city’s Los Angeles River Project Office submitted, commenting on the proposed development. It’s great that the city itself is stating that “many possibilities exist to create a River bike path in this area-one that can ensure that
Universal’s growth and security are allowed to exist in concert with much-needed public access to the River.”

Creek Freak hopes that Universal can see the river greenway and bike path as an amenity that will draw more people to Universal. We urge Universal to work closely with city staff, river advocates, and other stakeholders to come up with a creekside greenway that we can all be proud of.

(Letter below verbatim from the city of LA, though I’ve added a link, and removed a phone number. Thanks to Carol Armstrong!)

November 24, 2008

Jon Foreman
City Planner
City of Los Angeles
Department of City Planning
200 North Spring Street, Room 601
Los Angeles, California 90012

Dear Mr. Foreman:

Los Angeles River Project Office Comments on Metro Universal Project:
Planning Case No. ENV-2007-933-EIR, State Clearinghouse Number

I am writing as the project manager for overseeing implementation of
the City’s Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan (LARRMP); please
accept this letter as a response to the request for public comments on
the Metro Universal Project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR;
Applicant: Thomas Properties Group, LP; Prepared by: Christopher A.
Joseph & Associates; Location: 3875 North Lankershim Boulevard, Los
Angeles, CA 91604, Sherman Oaks-Studio City-Toluca Lake-Cahuenga Pass
Community Plan Area; Council District: 4).

As you know, the LARRMP was adopted by the City Council in May 2007 and
it proposes the creation of a continuous River Greenway for the 32 miles
of the River within the City of Los Angeles. This Greenway will include
bike paths, trails, parks, greening of connector streets, wildlife
habitat enhancements, ecological restoration where possible, and
multiple-benefit outcomes-such as active and passive recreational
amenities that also provide water quality improvements. The LARRMP
stresses the importance of River-adjacent open space and community
connections to these and along the River. Given this, I would like to
encourage the Metro Universal Project proponents to consider this in
their implementation efforts, including mitigation planning.

In particular, I am concerned about the project’s stated air quality,
traffic, and cumulative land use impacts. I understand that there will
be significant and unavoidable impacts regarding exceedence of both
PM2.5 and PM10 standards and traffic (vis-à-vis street closures,
vehicular congestion, pedestrian hazards, etc.) during both the
project’s construction and operation. Additionally, I am aware that
the Universal Vision Plan is a notable related project (Case No.
ENV-2007-0254-EIR; No. 65 in the DEIR) and, when the two projects are
considered cumulatively, they pose potentially significant long-term
land use impacts. However, the DEIR states that the projects “would
not be expected to result in cumulatively considerable impacts with
respect to land use regulations. Therefore the [Metro Universal] Project
would not have a significant cumulative impact.” (Page IV.A. 1-69)

Regarding land use impacts, pages IV.A.1-68 to 1-69 of the DEIR further

“…the Project Site is located within the LARRMP’s boundaries but is
not located adjacent to the river. Therefore, most of the LARRMP’s
goals and recommendations, including those pertaining to restoring the
River’s ecological and hydrological functioning and creating a bikeway
and open space buffers along the River, are not applicable to the
Project. Nonetheless, the Project meets those applicable goals and
recommendations. In furtherance of the LARRMP’s recommendation to
create safe non-motorized routes between the River and transit-oriented
development, transit hubs, parks, and employment centers within one mile
of the River, the Project would include streetscape improvements and
pedestrian amenities along Lankershim Boulevard. These improvements and
amenities include improved access to the Campo de Cahuenga historic
site, pedestrian walkways, seating, street furniture, thematic elements,
landscaping, street trees, and pedestrian lights intended to enhance
pedestrian activity. The Project would also provide a pedestrian connection between the Metro bus and subway facilities and Weddington
Park, and a pedestrian bridge will be constructed across Lankershim
Boulevard to provide a safe crossing for pedestrians. The Project would
also include new facilities that support bicycle access to the Project
Site, including bicycle parking, changing rooms, and lockers. Such
facilities, amenities, and connections would further the LARRMP’s
goals to connect neighborhood’s [sic] to the River.”

From the perspective of the LARRMP, the proposed mitigations do not go
far enough in addressing the potential circulation hazards that would
result from the project’s long-term traffic impacts and they do not
include any meaningful inclusion of or connections to the River. The
Metro Universal project area affects an important and limited regional
resource: riverfront space that is part of the future 32-mile River
Greenway. When combined with the Universal Vision Plan’s riverfront
area, a total distance of approximately 1.6 miles of the River Greenway
may be directly impacted by the combined projects.

I encourage you to consider that some of each project’s individual
impacts as well as their cumulative impacts may be redressed by
incorporating this short segment of the River Greenway into mitigation
planning. For instance, creation of the “Universal River Bikeway”
may be able to accomplish the following:

–Provide safe, non-motorized access to and from the area for visitors
to Campo de Cahuenga, Weddington Park, and Universal, resulting in
avoidance of pedestrian/auto conflicts;
–Provide incentives for walking and cycling instead of driving,
resulting in concomitant air quality and public health improvements;
–Demonstrate compatibility with the public/MTA ownership of the
property by encouraging the use of public transit and non-motorized
links to it; and
–Open up the area to workers from other communities who may not have
access to cars.

As demonstrated in the LARRMP (See, e.g., p. 5-5, 5-6, images on 4-16
and 6-25, and Opportunity Area No. 7, p. 6-47), many possibilities exist
to create a River bike path in this area-one that can ensure that
Universal’s growth and security are allowed to exist in concert with
much-needed public access to the River. This would go a long way in
demonstrating the project proponents’ understanding of its impacts to
and potential support for the City’s long-term River revitalization

Thank you very much for your consideration of my comments. Please do
not hesitate to contact me with any questions: (213) xxx-xxxx.

Carol S. Armstrong

Carol S. Armstrong, Ph.D.
Project Manager
Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan

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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