Los Angeles River Restoration Going From Grassroots to Glam

As excitement around the L.A. River revitalization heats up, neighbors of the once-neglected channel wonder who will benefit from the billion-dollar redevelopment.

2 minute read

April 3, 2016, 1:00 PM PDT

By Elana Eden

Even partial restoration of the Los Angeles River has been promised to yield a bounty of benefits in the areas of public health, water conservation, and urban placemaking. But a piece in The Nation suggests that communities who lived near the channel through its less glamorous days may never reap those benefits.

The article explores what it calls "the striking alignments of interest among the mayor, the River Corp., and the city's power elite with regard to the project," noting the seeming conflicts of interest in the non-profit implementing the restoration plan, as well what looks like city cooperation with wealthy developers in buying, selling, and rezoning properties in the increasingly desirable area:

"[T]he fear of many current residents [is] that because real-estate interests have been free to speculate and exert influence without adequate public oversight, the very people who fought for open spaces in their neighborhoods along the river—among the least wealthy and least healthy in LA, and with the fewest public parks—may not be able to afford to stick around long enough to enjoy them."

Is there any chance that the influx of money around the river will reach existing river communities? Perhaps: The city has considered designating the area as a new type of district, where tax revenues would be dedicated to infrastructure improvements and community-based projects.

Community faith in the river's coming "rebirth" hardly improved with the news that architect Frank Gehry would conduct the restoration. Some viewed that decision—which wasn’t made public for nearly a year—as a betrayal to years of community work; activist Lewis MacAdams called it "the epitome of wrong-ended planning."

Kreitner's piece weaves these threads into a suggestive narrative that places fears surrounding the river project in the context of other casualties of L.A.'s relentless march toward progress—Chavez Ravine, Chinatown, Bunker Hill—and employs an informative cast ranging from local leaders and community members to St. Francis of Assisi and Mary Pickford.

Thursday, March 10, 2016 in The Nation

Large blank mall building with only two cars in large parking lot.

Pennsylvania Mall Conversion Bill Passes House

If passed, the bill would promote the adaptive reuse of defunct commercial buildings.

April 18, 2024 - Central Penn Business Journal

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

A view straight down LaSalle Street, lined by high-rise buildings with an El line running horizontally over the street.

Chicago to Turn High-Rise Offices into Housing

Four commercial buildings in the Chicago Loop have been approved for redevelopment into housing in a bid to revitalize the city’s downtown post-pandemic.

April 10, 2024 - Chicago Construction News

Purple jacaranda trees in bloom in Los Angeles with tall white Art Deco buildings in background.

LA County Releases Draft Community Forest Management Plan

LA County's Chief Sustainability Office just released the discussion draft of Room to Grow, the first Community Forest Management Plan for the county.

April 21 - Los Angeles County Chief Sustainability Office

Aerial view of downtown Seattle, Washington at dusk.

Seattle Downtown Plan Expands Permitted Uses

The Downtown Activation Plan shifts from Euclidean to form-based zoning to encourage more commercial development.

April 21 - Governing

Large water pipe with brown water pouring out into dirt ditch.

Southern Water Infrastructure at Risk From Climate Impacts

A water main breaks somewhere in the United States every two minutes, according to an estimate from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

April 21 - The Conversation

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R 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.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.