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Masterplanner Chosen to Help Revive Los Angeles River

The L.A. River winds through the center of the city.
Image Courtesy Los Angeles Ad Hoc River Committee

On May 23 the Los Angeles City Council’s Ad Hoc River Committee, which was formed in 2002 to focus on the revitalization of the river, announced the selection of a team to devise a masterplan for the Los Angeles River. The team, lead by Pasadena-based Tetra Tech, Inc. a management consulting and technical services provider, will receive $2.5 million to help transform the River from a concrete flood control canal to a vital natural resource for the city.

Since the 1930s, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers channeled 80 percent of the river to provide flood protection, the Los Angeles River has been underutilized. As the “world’s largest storm drain” it nearly disappeared from public consciousness until the 1980s when Friends of the Los Angeles River (FOLAR), a non-profit organization with a vision of restoring the river began to draw attention to its potential as an environmental, cultural, and economic resource. Other non-profit organizations, as well as local, state, and federal government agencies have since joined FoLAR. By forming the Ad Hoc River Committee, the City of Los Angeles has brought a new, widely supported focus to the restoration effort.

The plan will focus on 30 of the 51 miles of river that winds through the center of the Los Angeles metropolitan area, passing urban development, industrial zones, and railroad yards. The Tetra Tech team will address issues like enhancing the environment, improving water quality, and managing storm water run-off; re-zoning to encourage riverside commercial and residential development; and developing landscaping and habitat designs for parks and recreation areas.

Los Angeles will follow a number of other U.S. cities that have transformed their mistreated waterways to valuable resources. Among several notable models are the San Antonio Riverwalk and Denver’s South Platte River, which was once a dumping ground for industrial waste, but is now a major source for recreation.

Allison Milionis