Draft Los Angeles River Master Plan Revealed

A new draft Los Angeles Master Plan, created by Frank Gehry's firm, lays out a more active, natural vision for the river, in addition to addressing concerns about displacement in communities along the river corridor.

January 14, 2021, 12:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Los Angeles River Bike Path

clayton harrison / Shutterstock

Los Angeles County this week released a draft update to the Los Angeles River Master Plan.

Steven Sharp reports on the document, which is "intended to guide the development of new parks and water quality projects along the 51-mile corridor, while also accounting for potential displacement and equity issues in neighboring communities."

The Los Angeles River was infamously encased in concrete after a series of destructive storms in the early 20th century, but, as Sharp notes, "sparse rainfall in Southern California mean's that the river is only needed for its flood control functions roughly 2 percent of the time [.....] That creates an opportunity for recreational activities and public open space on much of the corridor."

Sharp summarizes some of the plan's approach to development potential along the river thusly:

Although the master plan does not effectuate any specific investments along the river, the document identifies 56 potential projects between the San Fernando Valley and the South Bay.  In addition to building off of existing proposals - such as a 42-acre park at the Taylor Yard or the Downtown leg of the L.A. River bike path - the plan includes a "kit of parts" outlining an array of improvements to the channel, ranging from more modest river trails to channel modifications and even flood plain reclamation.

The county hired architect Frank Gehry's firm, working with landscape architect Laurie Olin, to complete the master plan. An article by Louis Sahagún for the Los Angeles Times devotes more ink to the starchitect angle inherent to the release of the draft master plan. Olin's contribution to the plan, according to Sharp, is a vision for "100 miles of public trails along the river, as well as park projects that restore habitats and improve water quality."

Gehry's role on the Los Angeles River has been controversial in the past. Gehry's firm was working in the background without public attention early in the process, but Gehry's initial work focused on hydrology, so the scope of the planning work has clearly expanded since then. At the time, concerns included a lack of understanding about how Gehry's work fit in with the Los Angeles River Revitalization Mater Plan, approved in 2007, and a plan released in 2013 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that shifted the focus of planning and engineering along the river to include habitat restoration in addition to stormwater protection.

Thursday, January 14, 2021 in Urbanize LA

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

Single-Family Housing Construction

New White House Housing Initiative Includes Zoning Reform Incentives

The Biden administration this morning released a new program of actions intended to spur housing construction around the United States.

May 16, 2022 - The White House

Complete Street Vancouver

Study: Most of Vancouver Is a ‘15-Minute City’

A large majority of Vancouver residents can access a grocery store in 15 minutes or less by bicycle or on foot.

May 20 - Vancouver Sun

Montreal, Quebec

Urban Design, Transport, and Health

The Lancet medical journal published a series of articles that explore how to evaluate and guide urban planning decisions to create healthy and sustainable cities. Live long and prosper!

May 20 - The Lancet - Urban Design, Transport, and Health

MoGo Bikeshare Bikes

Detroit Bike Share Celebrates Five Years

In its five years of operation, Detroit’s MoGo bikeshare has added electric and adaptive bikes to its fleet of more than 600 bikes.

May 20 - MoGo

HUD’s 2022 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Expanding HUD’s Eviction Protection Grant Program

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.