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My River Supporter Story - Sean McCarthy


My Act of Civic Pride

For about the past 5 years I’ve been maintaining and painting over graffiti on the Balboa bridge over the L.A. River in Lake Balboa.

I live one mile from the Balboa Bridge so it has received the lion’s share of my time. I’ve spent, on average 3 hours per week for 5 years painting the bridge including painting over graffiti. After painting the white upper part of the bridge with the Encino Chamber, I painted the space on the inside of the vertical concrete post between each of the two horizontal concrete bars. This took Thanksgiving weekend and the week of Christmas and New Years of 2011 to complete.



The next project was painting the south side walkway. It took most of the Spring and Summer of 2012. This is where a checkerboard pattern began. In 2012 / 2013 I painted the 36 green railing sections on the top of the bridge. Each side took 2 months to paint. Next, I painted the north side walkway. That was the summer of 2014. 

In 2015 I painted the storm water collector on the southeast side of the bridge. This took about a 2 months to complete. Finally, the summer of 2016, I painted the pillars under the bridge. This project took about 3 months to complete.

I like to think of this as an act civic pride. What began as a public relations exercise has resulted in one of the largest non-sanctioned public art projects in the San Fernando Valley. 

I am very proud of the people who have helped me along the way:

Elders and Sisters of the Church of Latter Day Saints, members of Woodland Hills Rotary and members of the Encino Chamber.

I feel passionate about the River and the work of River LA because the river corridor provides public space at the center of historic Los Angeles. The City is pumping millions of dollars into bike paths for the public to enjoy the river yet it has done very little to combat the ubiquitous graffiti. My concern is that families and individuals feel comfortable and safe walking along the river. That is why I’ve come up with this easy and effective way to combat and ultimately eliminate the eyesore of graffiti.   


Sean McCarthy


River LA's mission is to ensure the 51 mile Los Angeles River integrates design and infrastructure that brings people, water and nature together. We champion river-oriented policy and sustainable public spaces while creating innovative models for community benefit and participation. We would be grateful to have your support as a sustaining donor of the organization.

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My River Supporter Story - John O'Hara


My River Supporter Story (as a pro bono attorney helping out RiverLA):

I lived in Los Angeles for almost a decade before I finally saw the Los Angeles River.  That's technically not true--like any other fan of Terminator 2: Judgment Day and the many other movies shot within its concrete banks, I'd seen its vehicle-heavy cameos dozens of times--but I didn't see the River as an ecologically viable, living and flowing waterway until I actually visited it.  

Since that first taste of the River (not literal . . . yet), I've picnicked in its parks, practiced yoga at a brewery a stone's throw from its path, crossed and re-crossed its historic bridges (on the way to some Kanom Krok at LAX-C), run a half-marathon along its banks, admired sparkling classic cars displayed in its bed, and stand-up paddled in its waters as a competitor in a boat race.  It’s always one of my first stops when showing new people around LA, and there’s nothing more satisfying than winning over a River skeptic.

As much fun as I’d had on the River, I didn’t appreciate its true potential and importance (far beyond recreation) until I met Omar of River LA at an L.A. River Night Run put on by Detox Retox Events (now Good Bibes).  We discussed their ongoing Greenway 2020 campaign--to connect all 51 miles of the River together into a single bike and pedestrian network—and their pocket parks under their Rio Vistas initiative.  Ever-charmed and impressed with Omar's grandiose vision for what the River could be for the city, I asked whether I could do anything to help the organization and River revitalization efforts.

In a turn that will surprise no one familiar with the tenacity of the River LA folks, Jason Foster at River LA called my office the next day, pitching the opportunity to help out on a project to create a tool that could help guide the revitalization of the River, viewed as a whole, for years to come.  In the face of that ambitious scope, I had to sign on.

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River LA presents to IVCLA delegates


The International Visitors Council of Los Angeles(IVCLA) a non-profit organization that implements the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program of professional and cultural exchanges visited River LA today to share the key insights from large infrastructure projects from their respective countries and hear about the opportunities our region has to bring people, water, and nature together along all 51 miles of the Los Angeles River.

If you are a member of a group that is interested in learning more about the LA River and River LA's efforts, contact us at

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6th Street Viaduct project debuts new website



The City Engineering office and Jose Huizar, LA City Council Member, are beginning the community visioning process around the 6th Street Viaduct development in downtown Los Angeles and have debuted a new project website. The project will connect the Arts District and Boyle Heights through bike and pedestrian lanes along the LA River.

We are pleased with the progress of the 6th Street Viaduct project and are thankful for developments centered on creating public spaces along the LA River.

For more information on the project, visit the official project website.

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LA River Stories recognized as Knight Cities Challenge Finalists

The Knight Foundation has announced our LA River Stories project as one of their five finalists for the Knights Cities Challenge, designed to fund projects throughout the country that is intended to make cities “more vibrant places to live and work.” The River LA project, LA River Stories, will create public engagement through local storytelling including a multimedia public engagement project showcasing stories about the diverse residents that use the Los Angeles River. The submission to the Knights Cities challenge focuses on River LA’s efforts in Long Beach and the Lower River Region.

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