Blog - River LA

August River Roundup

July was a busy month for River LA and the Los Angeles River. With so much happening, it’s hard to keep up! Because of that, we’ve decided to rethink our monthly newsletter.

Today, we’d like to introduce the LA River Roundup. This version of our newsletter will include all the latest and greatest news about the Los Angeles River, including our original content and content from other organizations. Read below and let us know what you think in the comments!


River LA Releases Date for 7th Annual Urban Garden Party Fundraiser
This event celebrates the 51-mile Los Angeles River. This year, we’re honoring John Boiler and Supervisor Hilda Solis. River LA 

River by the Numbers: How to Use the LA River Index
Learn best practices for using the LA River Index tool containing data on the Los Angeles River. Perfect for students and organizations looking to become river experts! River LA


State Approves $100 Million for River Restoration
$100 million of Proposition 1 Funding was allocated for restoration of the LA River. CBS Local

Los Angeles to Host 2028 Summer Olympics
Los Angeles announces deal to host 2028 elections, initial speculations about incorporation of River into event. Variety

Did Rogue Paddlers, Scalia Cement Protection for LA River?
How Trump administration’s effort to limit the Clean Water Act might affect the Los Angeles River. E&E News  

Eric Garcetti Sworn In For Second Term As L.A. Mayor
Mayor Eric Garcetti is sworn in for second term with LA River as one of his talking points. LAist


18 "Rail-to-Trail" Projects Following in the High Line's Footsteps
18 park infrastructure projects join the Highline Network, including River LA. dezeen

Guest commentator on why an inclusive, collaborative approach is necessary for river revitalization. The San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Frogtown Bike Shop is Now Also Full Restaurant
Spoke Bicycle Cafe, bike shop and cafe on the LA River, expands to full restaurant. The Eastsider LA

Researchers Create Report with Suggestions for LA River Revitalization 
UCLA researchers report on existing projects along the river emphasizing community outreach. Daily Bruin



Atwater Bridge a Go Despite 4x Original Cost
La Kretz Crossing gets the go-ahead from city officials with new budget. Los Feliz Ledger 

The L.A. River Dreams of its Future: Larry Wilson
Columnist considers the potential challenges for re-design of River. Los Angeles Daily News

Fresh Renderings Show Off South LA’s Future Bike and Pedestrian Path
Designs present pedestrian and bike paths connecting Metro’s Crenshaw, Silver, and Blue lines to River in South LA. Curbed Los Angeles

Early Plans for Taylor Yard Include New Walkways and Kayaking Spots
Interim use for Taylor Yard property could include walkways, bike lanes, kayaking spots. Curbed Los Angeles

A Revitalized LA River Can Still Protect L.A. From Flooding
Opinion piece that design for the L.A. River can address both flood control and the need for public parks without being mutually exclusive. Los Angeles Times


EPA U.S. EPA Requires Southern California Plastic Manufacturers to Protect L.A. River from Pollution
EPA reaches agreement with plastic product manufacturers to protect River from pollution.
Web Wire.

Heal The Bay Launches New 'Report Card' To Grade L.A. Rivers And Watering Holes
Heal the Bay’s Report Card assesses the L.A. River’s water quality. LAist.

Is Re-Introducing Steelhead Trout into the Arroyo Seco Another Fish Tale?
Scientists consider re-introducing steelhead trout into L.A. River’s tributaries. Pasadena Star-News

LA Reaches Settlement With Army Corps Of Engineers Over LA River And Its Tributaries
The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reach agreement on water quality for Los Angeles River. LA West Media

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River by the Numbers: How to Use the River Index

Did you know, 1 out of ever 4 Angelenos live within 30 miles of the river?

In 2014, we partnered with Gehry Partners, OLIN, and Geosyntec to digest and explore the enormous amount of data surrounding the Los Angeles River. Our goal was to build upon the 25 years of work to create a single framework by which future projects for the river could be evaluated. For example, if a city wanted to build a park along the LA River, this index could be used to determine if it’s in the right location based off of population need, etc.

All this work led to the River Index, which was launched in 2016.

Today, this free, online resource includes an analysis of new and existing studies and master plans, and was informed by community members, peer organizations, state and local agencies, technical experts, and everyone in between. It covers a range of topics and has everything you need to becoming a LA River expert. We’re here to provide an overview of how it works, and share some best practices for making the most of the River Index.

Have a specific question about it? Let us know in the comments.

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8 Summer Activities on the Los Angeles River


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California Legislature Approves Funding for LA River

River LA and Friends of the LA River congratulate California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro-Tem Kevin de León for their leadership and support for the Los Angeles River. Today, $100 million in Prop 1 funding passed the legislature and is on its way to the Governor.

"We want one great 51-mile river and greenway, says River LA's Executive Director Omar Brownson, "Having Pro-Tem de León and Speaker Rendon lead the way to bring together the various local agencies and stakeholders, along with the financial resources to make a difference is huge. There are 2100 acres of land within the flood control channel that we want to unlock for increased public benefit. This investment is key to moving this vision forward."

This is a momentous occasion that demonstrates the State’s commitment to partner with Southern California in transforming this vital resource to truly serve the needs of our region. These leaders, along with Mark Stanley and Joe Edmiston, Executive Directors of the Rivers and Mountains and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancies respectively, are helping to empower the community to create a healthy, more accessible, and vibrant public resources for all. 

“This is a historic moment for the Los Angeles River,” said Marissa Christiansen, Executive Director of Friends of the Los Angeles River.  “Pro Tem de León and Speaker Rendon have demonstrated the type of unified, collaborative leadership that will ultimately lead to a thriving natural resource for all Angelenos.  This funding comes at a pivotal moment in the River’s history and will truly make a meaningful impact in its progress forward.  As we say, River restoration ‘takes a Friend.’  Today, we are thrilled to have a Friend in both these leaders.”

River LA and FoLAR are working together towards the revitalization of the Los Angeles River. For almost a century, management of the river has been singular in focus: to protect the residents of the river basin from rare but potentially devastating floods. Now, the region is looking to transform this river of concrete into a healthy, resilient resource for all.

About River LA

River LA is a nonprofit organization with a mission to ensure the 51-mile Los Angeles River integrates design and infrastructure to bring people, water, and nature together. We believe in championing river-oriented policy, sustainable public spaces and creating innovative models for community betterment and participation. For more information please visit Facebook and Twitter.

About FoLAR

Founded in 1986, FOLAR is the nonprofit credited with starting the Los Angeles River Movement.  Our mission is to ensure a publicly accessible and ecologically sustainable Los Angeles River by inspiring River stewardship through community engagement, education, advocacy, and thought leadership.  We envision a Los Angeles River where humans and habitat coexist and thrive. Jump in the River at  

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River LA Joins High Line Network as Charter Member!


Release the balloons! We are thrilled to share our charter membership in the High Line Network. This peer-to-peer group launched by the Friends of the High Line includes 19 infrastructure reuse projects from across the continent, including River LA. The High Line Network will be the first of its kind to collect news on the growing field of infrastructure reuse, showcasing complex projects that can learn from one another. Each project in the network has a purpose to transform underutilized infrastructure into new urban landscapes to help communities reach their full potential.


As one of the 19 projects, River LA will illustrate our plan to rethink all 51-miles of the LA River, leveraging design and advocacy for thousands of acres of accessible open space. Using the High Line Network, River LA will have the unique opportunity to learn from and collaborate with other member organizations on best peer-to-peer practices to develop innovative public spaces. We are incredibly excited to be in the company of these innovative projects, and are eager to work together and engage others on how best to revitalize the present-day, channelized river into a healthy, resilient resource for all.

Get excited, folks! We are a part of a growing movement of infrastructure reuse projects transforming public space across the nation.

Want to keep track of our progress? Subscribe for updates right to your inbox!

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Placemaking at River LA | What It Is and Why We Do It

At River LA, our mission is to integrate design and infrastructure to bring people, water, and nature together along all 51-miles of the Los Angeles River. Over our last six years, this has meant different things and it continues to evolve today. We think that’s the exciting part, but we realize it can leave the community with some questions about our work and why we do it.

Today, we’re going to explore an essential part of our work: Placemaking. This on-the-rise buzzword has been a focus of River LA over the years and is at the heart of a number of events we’ve hosted recently. These gatherings, which you can find more of on our events page, have brought together all sorts of folks across Los Angeles. It’s an important part of our work and we’re excited to share it with you.

What is placemaking

Placemaking is designed with community-based participation as its core purpose. Defined by the Project for Public Spaces, the ‘Placemaking process capitalizes on a local community's assets, inspiration, and potential, and it results in the creation of quality public spaces that contribute to people's health, happiness, and well being.’ It empowers communities to re-imagine their space for potential opportunities to improve lives through intentional development.

This can mean a number of things. In some instances, Placemaking is physically developing an area, like transforming empty buildings into open creative spaces. Other forms of Placemaking include temporary art installations or even pop up events. Regardless of the medium, all Placemaking is intended to engage communities to celebrate and consider their spaces.

How we’ve done it

Our Placemaking work began in earnest in 2016, when we decided to take a page out of the Goldrisch Foundation’s LA 2050 “micro grant” making program and develop a micro grant program of our own for Rio Vistas. We started with this project because it was the perfect opportunity to demonstrate and practice the principles of Placemaking.

What’s made our Placemaking work so powerful is what we haven’t done. Instead of managing each event, we have fostered the ideas and plans for individuals and community members to lead themselves. Most recently, we began our Rio Vistas Micro Grant program. The Rio Vistas program consisted of $1,000 micro-grants we awarded to individuals and groups that wanted to celebrate people and space along the LA River. This has led to remarkable events that represent the needs and communities they serve.

Debbie’s Inheritance
This Rio Vistas activation was designed to celebrate the memory of loved ones past. The installation by artist Rosalie Lopez used living houseplants and repurposed objects to create an inviting space called Debbie’s Inheritance. In exchange for a take-home rooting plant, voice recorded or written memories were collected and shared in a digital memory archive.

I think Debbie’s Inheritance was about creating and engaging environment and making an archive of stories from a specific region in Los Angeles. The LA River connected with the installation through the need for creating green spaces and connection to water. -Rosalie Lopez

Broccoli City’s Hashtag Lunchbag Event (pictured below)
Broccoli City’s Rio Vistas satellite event emphasized bringing diversity to give back to the community along the river. Broccoli City partnered with Hashtag Lunchbag to host an afternoon of dancing, courtesy of DJ Printz, sandwich making, and celebrating our great river.


LA Walks
La Walks is hosting a Rio Vistas “Walk ‘n’ Roll” to walk the LA River to advocate for safe, accessible, fun and equitable walking. This Placemaking event will highlight areas of the river in need of repairs, while bringing together walkers of all ages!

Why it’s part of our work

As River LA continues to explore the opportunities presented by the LA river and the public space of the channel, we find it essential to help lift the voices and the communities that call this river home. Placemaking is at the core of this work, as it’s designed to empower the neighborhoods to reclaim and guide the future of the space.

Want to get involved?

We have several opportunities to join us at one of these Placemaking events this summer. You can RSVP for one of these events here. Or, even better, get involved by signing up to volunteer with River LA.

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EverWalk the LA River


We are excited to share EverWalk the LA River, an upcoming event in partnership with EverWalk, founded by the EPIC Cuba-to-Florida swimmer Diana Nyad and her expedition partner Bonnie Stoll. EverWalk is on a mission to inspire Americans to get up and move. The EverWalk journey is to create a nation of walkers to reverse the impact sedentary lifestyles have on our collective health.

EverWalk the LA River is a 6.5-mile walk through Atwater Village to Fletcher Drive, beginning and ending at North Atwater Park (though, folks are able to turn around at any point!). This walk is meant to celebrate the development of a safe and accessible 51-mile no-car bike and pedestrian path along our LA River. This is our first annual walk and we hope you can join us!

What makes the LA River so powerful are the communities, organizations, and people it brings together. Time and time again, we develop partnerships (and friendships) with inspiring and energizing organizations. Today, we bring you one of these organizations and, even better, an event you can join!

The What

EverWalk and River LA are combining forces to start an annual walking event. The purpose of this 6.5-mile walk is twofold, aiming to raise awareness about our great LA River and all its opportunities and encourage folks to get moving with the EverWalk Nation Pledge! What’s the EverWalk Nation Pledge, you ask?

  • I pledge to walk at least three times a week.

  • I will be an example to my family, friends, and neighbors about the importance of walking and leading an active lifestyle.

  • I commit to being an ambassador for EverWalk’s mission and want to get America walking.

The Who

This event will be attended by folks of all ages, Diana Nyad and Bonnie Stoll of the EverWalk team, the River LA gang, and hopefully you!  

The When (and the Where!)

Saturday, May 20th, 2017

8:30 am Check-in
9:15 am Get inspired by a pre-walk Never Ever Give Up Talk by Diana Nyad
9:30 am Walk Begins
11:00 am After the walk the Border Grill Food Truck will be onsite for those that might want to buy lunch and hang out together for a while longer

North Atwater Park
3900 W. Chevy Chase Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90039

RSVP here

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Upcoming Rio Vistas Micro Grant Activation featuring Rosalie Lopez

Yoga classes, immersive art installations, pop-up parties, art workshops, interactive performances. Sounds like fun, right?

Recently, we shared a blog post about our upcoming Rio Vistas events. As a refresher, Rio Vistas are street ends along the LA River that community members are programming to celebrate aesthetic, recreational, and environmental benefits of community space for neighborhoods along the LA River. We offered  $1,000 grants to help activate these areas to empower people to plan and create experiences that reflect what they believe the power of the LA River is to connect community at these street ends.

Essentially, our Rio Vistas programs highlight the incredible people that work, live, and play along the LA River. We’re delighted to announce one coming up this weekend, and we’d love to have you join us


The What

This weekend’s Rio Vista activation is designed to celebrate the memory of loved ones past. The installation will use living houseplants and repurposed objects to create an inviting space called Debbie’s Inheritance. In exchange for a take-home rooting plant, voice recorded or written memories will be collected and shared in a digital memory archive.

The Who

Rosalie M. López is a conceptual artist whose artwork involves reforming cultural iconography, often referencing the idealized perfect with more true-to-life icons, in order to highlight and recognize the strength, power and influence of our communities, while also speaking about cultural and social expressions. She primarily uses printmaking, papel picado, installation, and the altar/offering to relay experiences of survival, loss, and hope.

The When (and the Where!)
May 13, 2017 at 11am - 3pm

At the end of Coolidge Street
3050 N Coolidge Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Google map and directions

We hope you’re able to join us. This weekend promises to be a unique opportunity to celebrate those we love and the community we treasure. We sure hope you can join.



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An Update on Atwater Bridge Project

June 8, 2017 Update

We are delighted to share the N. Atwater Bridge received unanimous approval from LA City Council members on May 26th to allocate the funds needed to move this project forward into construction. The next step will be adoption by the Board of Public Works, and then, executing a construction contract bid with the selected General Contractor.

None of this would have been possible without your letters of support, testimony, and phone calls to support the project. We sincerely thank all our supporters for their work on this project and the future of the LA River.

This past Monday, May 1st, the Arts Parks River Committee meeting was held at City Hall. The agenda included grant applications, commemorative signs, and lease agreements for the North Atwater Multimodal Bridge project. This bridge is a project we at River LA, in conjunction with Atwater community members, have been working on for a while now and the results of the committee meeting are encouraging. We are more committed than ever to advocate for this bridge and today, we invite you to join us.

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Mark Pestrella named Director of LA County Public Works


River LA applauds the County of Los Angeles for naming Mark Pestrella as Director, County of Los Angeles Public Works. Pestrella currently serves as the Acting Director of the Department and will assume his new role on Monday, March 6. LA County Public Works is responsible for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of roads, bridges, flood control, water supply, water quality, and water conservation facilities.

River LA is currently collaborating with the County and its Public Works Department, as well as regional agencies, city leaders, and community groups, in updating the LA River County Master Plan. The revamped plan aims to create a single comprehensive view of the River that will benefit the community and the environment.

“Mark has been a creative and forward-looking partner that shares our passion for the River,” said Omar Brownson, Executive Director of River LA. “We look forward to continuing our work with him and the County to create a truly connective 51-mile active transportation and recreation corridor along the LA River.”





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.

 For more information, feel free to email us directly at or join our email list.   

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