What Will the L.A. River Look Like in the Future?

Los Angeles County is updating its Master Plan for the L.A. River—and it wants your input

The L.A. River flows from Canoga Park to Long Beach, traveling through 17 river-adjacent cities, and each one has different ideas for how the waterway should be used. The only jurisdiction that encompasses the entire length of the river is Los Angeles County, and for the first time since 1996, the county is updating its Los Angeles River Master Plan. That sounds pretty official, but what does it actually mean? When it’s complete in early 2020, the new Master Plan will offer a comprehensive vision for the river’s future and include initial concept designs for how to make that vision a reality.

While the County’s plan won’t supersede any other jurisdiction’s plans for the river, it will provide a look at the river as a whole, including recent revitalization efforts, recreational opportunities, economic opportunities, and water resource management. The Master Plan update is being led by a steering committee, which met for the first time on April 11.

“The steering committee is made up of community leaders, technical experts, our Department of Public Works, and a variety of environmental and nonprofit stakeholders,” says Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis. Steering committee members were selected from communities along the river, and among those who will be offering their expertise are Shelley Luce, president and CEO of Heal the Bay; Peter Sellars, the Boethius Initiative at UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures; Marissa Christiansen, executive director of Friends of the L.A. River; Mary Leslie, president of the Los Angeles Business Council; and Irma R. Munoz, president and CEO of Mujeres de La Tierra. The L.A. County Department of Public Works will lead the committee, joined by engineering firm Geosyntec, architect Frank Gehry, and landscape architect Laurie Olin.

Steering committee meetings are open to the public, and L.A. County wants as many Angelenos involved as possible. The nonprofit River L.A. is organizing the community engagement aspect of the Master Plan, including stakeholder meetings each quarter, area-specific meetings every other month, localized outreach at neighborhood events, a youth summit in November 2018, a cultural festival next summer, and plenty of digital engagement. Supervisor Solis says, “I want to encourage the communities that are touched by the river, and those that are interested in enhancing the environment, to come out and be a part of it.”

Find out more about L.A. County’s Master Plan for the L.A. River on the website, where you can also sign up for updates on the project.

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