Following a severe storm that hit Los Angeles in 1938, the Army Corps of Engineers heard the Angelenos’ demand for flood control measures; thus, the concrete channelization began. Now seventy years later, the Army Corps along with the city and state officials once again heed the public’s growing demands for a revitalized and accessible Los Angeles River.

Now, after eight years of studies, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers partnered with the City of Los Angeles submitted the LA River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study to restore the ecosystem along an 11-mile stretch of the river—from Griffith Park to Downtown LA. This program, referred to as the ARBOR study, possesses a dual focus to create an Area with Restoration Benefits and Opportunities for Revitalization.

The Army Corp created a total of twenty-one different Alternatives, and on September 13, 2013 the Army Corps announced Alternative 13 as its proposed plan. It appeared that Alternative 13 only provided modest development of the LA River with its main focus on environmental restoration. It failed to stimulate the local economy or create much recreational development along the banks as proposed in other alternatives. Alternative 13 would not transform the LA River into the new public destination Angelenos were hoping for.  

Alternative 13 (approx. $450M and 70% local cost-share) provides restoration at key sites, including the Taylor Yard complex on the eastern bank of the river in Glassell Park/Cypress Park, the Arroyo Seco confluence on the eastern bank (in Lincoln Heights), and the Piggyback Yard on the eastern bank (in Boyle Heights).

After intense scrutiny by “riverly” organizations and representatives from both the city and county, the Army Corps of Engineers took a second look at the study and their selected alternative. Mayor Eric Garcetti along with other city officials led the the effort in lobbying federal officials for a more comprehensive plan for the LA River, through the selection of Alternative 20. On May 28, 2014, the US Army Corps revised their submitted proposal and decided to recommend approval of Alternative 20, a $1-billion proposal. Per the terms of the proposal, the federal government along with city, county and state sources will equally contribute to the cost of this project.  

Alternative 20 (approx. $1B and 50% local cost-share) adds extensively to Alternative 13 channel widening (by converting a portion of the south/western bank along the north side of Griffith Park from trapezoidal to vertical) to accommodate ecosystem restoration in the river bottom AND substantial ecosystem restoration at the confluence of the Verdugo Wash and the LA River in Atwater Village--where the City of LA borders the City of Glendale (underneath the 5/134 Freeway intersection on the eastern bank) AND a hydrological connection on the western bank in Downtown LA/Chinatown between the Cornfield/LA State Historic Park site and the river by placing the existing rail lines on a trestle. Officials estimate that this proposal will attract more than $5 billion in investment, generate up to 18,000 jobs, and create more recreational opportunities within a 10 to 15 year timeframe.

L.A. River project highlights 

The recommendation of Alternative 20 marks a significant milestone in the creation of the LA River as an urban oasis. However, this proposal must pass through Congress before implementation. Thus, we must continue to make our voices heard by the city, county, state, and federal officials in order to implement our vision for the future of LA.

Join us in supporting Mayor Garcetti’s efforts to bring a section of the LA River to life in partnership with the federal government. Sign the petition to continue to share your voice!