Blog - River LA

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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River LA Executive Director honored at 2017 Impact-Maker to Watch Awards

We are thrilled to share that Omar Brownson, River LA Executive Director, was honored last night with a 2017 Impact-Maker to Watch award by The City Impact Lab at LA City Hall.

200 city & civic leaders from across Los Angeles gathered to celebrate and honor 28 Angelenos who doing notable work in 2017 for the annual Impact-Makers to Watch event, presented by City Impact Lab, in partnership with Project Restore. This annual distinction is for those who are doing foundational work to make a positive impact in Los Angeles. Honorees are designated by LA leaders, including members of the LA City Council and Board of Supervisors and will be supported and promoted through various City Impact Lab programs throughout the year.


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River LA is grateful for river champions like Weintraub for focus on LA River

Deborah Weintraub. Photo by Chudo Nomi

We are grateful to have river champions like Deborah Weintraub, the chief deputy for the City of Los Angeles’s Bureau of Engineering. She has been “a real hero to many of the infrastructure projects that are occurring throughout the city” including the projects along the LA River. We wanted to highlight the key projects that Weintraub has moved forward.


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Taking the Reins provides an urban agriculture experience near LA River

In Atwater Village near the Los Angeles River, non-profit Taking the Reins has started a new program to introduce youth to native plant horticulture, conservation and stewardship of the land in urban areas. “Children with limited access to nature will learn about the native species of plants and stewardship of TTR’s portion of the Los Angeles River corridor."

We celebrate Taking The Reins for their program and interest in nature and ecology in Atwater Village along the LA River.

For more information on Taking the Reins and their new program, visit the Eastsider LA article here

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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L.A. City Council Unanimous on Acquiring Land Along LA River for Revitalization


Photo Credit: LA Times

River LA is thrilled to congratulate the City of Los Angeles on its decision to move forward with purchasing the G-2 riverfront parcel at Taylor Yard! This property is imperative to LA River revitalization and is one of the most important components for its urban restoration since it will provide essential green space and critical access to surrounding neighborhoods. The incorporation of the property complements our ongoing efforts to create a contiguous 51 miles of river via programs like Greenway 2020 and the Rio Vista project. Like these programs, G-2 has the potential to become a connective tissue from the middle river to other parts of the River’s reach, bringing us one giant leap closer to our goal of connecting all of the LA River.

We’d like to thank Mayor Garcetti and the City Council for their support, as well as all the river advocates out there, including you! Your efforts made this crucial step possible, and your stewardship going forward will ensure this land’s full potential as an ecological and community benefit is realized.  It’s your support and passion that turns these dreams into a reality.

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LA Leaders voice the city's need for smart water policy


Cindy Montañez of TreePeople & Becky Hayat of Natural Resources Defense Council’s water program provided the Los Angeles Daily News commentary on Los Angeles's need for smart water policy. Water Recharge is one of the nine criteria on our LA River Index. We see an opportunity for the River to be an answer, not just the channel. 

Over the past couple of days, drought-stricken Los Angeles received about an inch of rain. But because so much of the Los Angeles area is paved, more than 3.8 billion gallons of that fresh rainwater was flushed into the L.A. River and out to the Pacific Ocean, carrying pollution and toxins along the way.

As Southern California faces a sixth year of severe drought, we can’t afford to waste this precious resource. The new climate reality demands that Los Angeles get water-smart — and fast.

According to a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council and TreePeople, if our two urban regions — Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area — captured their rain, our state could increase water supplies by up to 630,000 acre-feet per year. That’s the equivalent of filling the Rose Bowl with water 2,432 times — or more than the city of Los Angeles uses in a year! 

For the full article visit LA Daily News here

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Flying over the Los Angeles River

 Where the water once flowed


Our friends at LAist have posted a great video highlighting Photographer Chang Kim's recent video "Where the water once flowed" showing drone footage of the LA River's change from throughout the 51-miles. Check out the video and let us know what you think in the comments. 

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