Imagining the future of the Los Angeles river: A river for all of us


Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

For decades LA County leaders and residents have dreamed of restoring the 51-mile river that gave Los Angeles its name. With the completion of a 480-page Master Plan commissioned by the LA County Board of Supervisors and new funding from the state of California and local agencies targeting environmental restoration projects, the moment for turning the dream into reality is now. The EMS briefing on Sep 10 informed media serving LA’s diverse populations – and interested media nationwide – about current and long-term projects and goals for revitalizing the river, and shared perspectives about the future of the river from a representative poll of more than 600 residents interviewed in four languages.

The Ecosystem Restoration project involves restoring 11 miles of the Los Angeles River from approximately Griffith Park to downtown Los Angeles, while maintaining existing levels of flood risk management. Most Los Angeles County residents are familiar with the Los Angeles River and the vast majority support river revitalization efforts despite the fact that fewer than half of them have ever visited the river and only one out of 10 have visited the river many times, said Fernando Guerra, Director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University. They see what needs to be done to revitalize the river that runs through our region and they support those efforts. And, for the first time, we’re hearing a clear message from a representative sample of all Angelenos who believe in this project and they want to get this done.”

These are among the findings of the first-ever multilingual public opinion poll focused on the Los Angeles River conducted by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University in collaboration with Ethnic Media Services, a nonprofit organization, and the Laboratory for

Environmental Narrative Strategies at UCLA. The poll was conducted in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean, the top four languages spoken in Los Angeles County.

Survey respondents said creating habitat for plants and animals and capturing storm water for future use before it gets to the ocean should be a high priority, as well as flood control, ensuring that residents are not displaced by new developments, making the river accessible, building more parks, and recreation on the river. A majority is concerned that revitalization efforts will lead to an increase in homeless encampments along the river, increased taxes, and gentrification that will displace current residents.

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