Monday, June 26, 2006

Guest blogger Mitch: Areas of opportunity on the Los Angeles River

I asked District Director for Constituent Service Mitch O'Farrell to blog about his participation in the public meeting on the future of the Los Angeles River held over the weekend.

Turnout was good for Saturday's River Workshop at the Goodwill Worksource Center in Lincoln Heights. The work station tables were crowded despite the fact Mexico was playing Argentina in the World Cup in a match that started at noon! By far the most action was at the "Taylor Yards" table. This site has been chosen as one of the 5 opportunity sites to be studied closely for the upcoming Master Plan. The Taylor Yard site, now expanded to include Elysian Valley and Fletcher Drive from San Fernando Road to Rowena, is one of the most important pieces of real estate in Northeast Los Angeles. It is surrounded by 3 communities within the 13th Council District; Elysian Valley, Atwater Village, and Glassell Park. CD13 residents from those communities as well as Silver Lake, and Echo Park all participated in the workshop.


In addition to my service to the district, I'm a longtime resident of Glassell Park and Northeast Los Angeles. I want to make sure building blocks are put in place that lead to habitat restoration, management and maintenance of the river environment, and pedestrian and bicycle improvements along the river at Taylor Yard and beyond. If you go out to Fletcher Drive as it crosses the River, you will see that the walking environment is hostile coming from either direction. To get to Taylor Yard From Riverside Drive, one has to walk by narrow sidewalks in front of "Girls, Girls, Girls", the adult entertainment venue. From the other direction, you either have to walk across an on-ramp to the Glendale (2) North Freeway or enter next to the DWP switching station, then head underneath the Fletcher Drive bridge where there is no pathway. Access points to the River should be the first order of business for the Master Plan.

We also need to take a hard look at quality of life along the river for people, flora and fauna. Also, businesses that have been operating along its banks need to feel secure that their concerns are being addressed. While some uses have been found to be incompatible with the river environment, we should keep in mind that many light manufacturing and other industrial uses can co-exist as they always have, albeit with a few new standards. Businesses along the River don't have to be at the expense of residents, workers, or river enthusiasts in order to thrive. It's all about continuing the transformation from a degraded, abused waterway into a revitalized, thriving natural resource that was here long before any of us were!

For comments and all other information regarding the Ad hoc River Committee, the Los Angeles River Master Plan, CD13's River Management & Maintenance task force, or River Walks, please feel free to contact me any time.

For more on the LA River Areas of Opportunity, see Steve Hymon's report in the Los Angeles Timesfrom this weekend.

Photograph by sjareb, found on flickr.