Los Angeles River Revitalization
LA River

The LA River has been an enigmatic icon of the city for generations. A site of car chases and criminal activity in movies and real life, the City, County and Corps of Engineers joined forces with environmental and community groups to establish a new vision and plan to turn this eyesore into a living river again. Civitas played a central role in leading a large task force, 19 public meetings and many one-on-one meetings with community leaders, stakeholders, agency staff and elected officials, leading to full approval of the plan by all agencies and all three client partners.

This river is volatile and powerful in flood, carrying all the runoff from the San Gabriel Mountains as well as urbanized LA and the San Fernando Valley. The river is 32 miles long within the City of LA alone, passing through 9 different community plan areas and countless private properties. It has been a dangerous and blighting influence and is lined with backyards, industry and railroads. Highly constrained by private land and heavy infrastructure, the options for restoration are limited.

The master plan envisions lowering the concrete walls to create trails, rain gardens, habitat and recreational spaces, using terraces and ramps to retain flood protection while creating safe access. With eventual flood attenuation upstream the bottom of the channel will become a soft river bottom again, returning aquatic life and sediment transport into a functioning riverine ecosystem.

People all along the corridor are beginning to rediscover the river as a result of this plan and the many organizations that are pushing for revitalization. It is now possible to see that the river will no longer be the back of everything, it will become a living, active spine that links a more healthy and sustainable city.

Client: Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering
Collaborators: Tetra Tech, Mia Lehrer Assoc., Wenk Associates
Completed: 2007
Budget: $2.7 million plan, Reconstruction $5 Billion