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      Department of Public Works Bureau of Sanitation

Using the Cornfields and LA skyline as a backdrop, Councilman Ed Reyes announces the Los Angeles River Revitalization Plan.

LOS ANGELES RIVER REVITALIZATION PLAN
KICK-OFF EVENT

September 12, 2005 (Los Angeles) — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined other City officials announcing proposed plans for the revitalization of the Los Angeles River.

In a press conference spearheaded by Councilmember Ed Reyes (CD 1), he was joined by the Mayor and other city officials including Jan Perry (CD 9), Tom LaBonge (CD 4), Eric Garcetti (CD 13), Wendy Greuel (CD 2), City Engineer Gary Moore, Department of Water and Power GM Ron Deaton, and Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg.

Hoping to make the city cleaner and greener, Reyes announced plans to hold community meetings in an effort to devise ways and means to revitalize the Los Angeles River. Reyes, whose 1st District in northeast Los Angeles includes the river-turned-flood control channel, said he hopes to see clean water flowing along the 32-mile corridor, with parks, shops, restaurants and housing developments lining the banks.

“For decades, we have treated the Los Angeles River as though it was our backyard, the place we put things that we didn’t want others to see,” Reyes said. “The fact is that many people don’t even know that we have a river. Well, they are going to know about it now.”

Reyes, who chairs the city council’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Los Angeles River, said he and other city and community leaders will hold 18 monthly meetings to gather input on what residents want to see for the river project. The first meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 15 at the North Weddington Recreation center, 10844 Acama St., North Hollywood. “To my fellow Angelenos I say, this is your opportunity to set the stage of our city’s frontier, our Los Angeles River,” Reyes said. “This is where we turn our backyard into our front yard.”

The city hired the engineering firm of Tetra Tech Inc. of Pasadena to serve as primary consultant of the project, which is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars.

The Los Angeles River was a vital resource to the city’s settlers in raining crops. During the late 1930s, the Army Corps of Engineers shored up the banks with concrete to prevent the city from being flooded in the event of heavy rainfall. No part of the river is in its natural state. City officials hope to restore portions of the river’s concrete banks back to its natural state, while allowing for development in other areas. Reyes cited other successful riverfront revitalization efforts, including Cherry Creek in Denver, Salt River in Tempe, Ariz., and the San Antonio River in Texas.

“Now it’s our turn,” Reyes said. “With all respect to them, I know Angelenos can dream bigger.” Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles, said she supports development along the river, but that she does not want the region’s low-income residents to be squeezed from their neighborhoods.

BPW President Cynthia Ruiz

"…the river should belong to ALL the people" said Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg D-Los Angeles.

“The key here is to make sure that it is developed in a way that we do not push out existing residents to make way for new people to come in,” Goldberg said. “I think that’s going to be difficult, but I think it’s something that should be on the agenda because the river should belong to all the people.” The river runs through nine of the city’s 15 council districts, including Wendy Greuel’s 2nd District. The councilwoman said she enjoys strolls along the river with her family, but said she is disappointed by the fact that most residents are unaware that the waterway exists.

“What Ed Reyes wants to do… is to change that perception and knowledge,” Greuel said. “To make them understand that the river can be a place where we can have clean water, where we can have green park space, walking paths and promenades, bicycle trails, recreation and transportation, even restaurants, cafes and businesses, as well as housing and retail space. And most importantly, a classroom to educate our children about the environment and the river and the City of Los Angeles.”

From left to right: Wendy Greuel CD2, LADWP Commissioner Mary Nichols, Eric Garcetti CD13, Mayor Villaraigosa, Ed Reyes CD1, Jan Perry CD9, and Tom LaBonge CD4.