Monday, May 20, 2013

Los Angeles Plans to Return Concrete LA River to a Sort of Nature

Rendering of a revitalized LA River with landscaping and public promenades.
Hunter Communications recommended reading from:
The Atlantic: Cities

Link to article: 
LA Wants to Turn its Concrete 'River' to a Real River

The Los Angeles River became more like a concrete-lined flood channel as early as 1930, but changing ideas of ecology and demographics of residents near the river has the city pondering plans to return the river to a semblance of nature.  The concrete will be torn out, new plantings will allow the river to meander among bushes and reeds, and terraced walkways will allow strollers to see a greener, more natural view along the waterway.

Excerpt: "In recent years the Los Angeles River has enjoyed a renaissance. Though the waterway hasn’t really been a natural habitat since the 1930s (when the city lined the riverbed with concrete to control flooding), new bike paths, public art, and kayak tours now draw Angelenos to the water’s edge. So far these upgrades have been largely peripheral, due in large part to urban enthusiasts’ determination to start using the giant ditch they inherited as a river. Meanwhile, the city’s more substantial plan to transform the channel into a living habitat is mired in delays at the federal level.

The Los Angeles River Revitalization Plan, completed in 2007 by the landscape design firm Mia Lehrer + Associates, calls for the removal of most of the concrete and natural habitat restoration around the river. But, as the Architect’s Newspaper‘s Sam Lubell reports, a delay in a feasibility study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has stalled this ambitious project, putting everyone’s dreams of a green urban idyll on hold.

Before work can proceed, the Corps must assess the flood risks and, counterintuitively, the habitat risks of altering the river’s makeup. (Are we worried that all those algae colonies will die off for want of concrete?) The feasibility study was scheduled to wind up at the end of this year, but six years of bureaucratic snares and funding mishaps have jeopardized that deadline."

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