Since the very first Los Angeles River Ride in 2001, LACBC has championed completing a 51-mile bike path along its banks from Canoga Park to Long Beach. In 2013, our efforts received a welcomed boost with the launch of Greenway 2020, led by the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation, which reframed the City and County’s timeline for completing this goal from “eventually” to the year 2020. During this time, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice has also been organizing for a community alternative to the I-710 project that embraces the river and seeks to connect it to surrounding neighborhoods so that primarily low-income residents have safe places to walk and bike and cleaner air to breathe. This past week, these multi-year campaigns by our river-ly partners took huge steps forward, moving us closer to a connected 51-mile greenway.
Last Thursday, Mayor Eric Garcetti and County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl announced funding for a coordinated design for 12 miles of remaining bike path gaps in the San Fernando Valley. Four of the city council members for the area—Paul Krekorian, Bob Blumenfield, David Ryu, and Nury Martinez—all contributed funding toward this effort. Previously, the City has pursued construction funding in bits and pieces for segments as short as half a mile. While this approach has made incremental progress, it hasn’t resulted in a connected, useful bike path across the Valley. This announcement is a fundamental shift in approach to treat the river as one project, in line with Greenway 2020. While construction may still happen in phases, moving the whole project forward into design allows the City and County to work together to pursue larger grants with faster timelines. We are thrilled to see this change in strategy take hold.
Then, just this morning, the Metro Board of Directors adopted a motion, sponsored by Supervisor Hilda Solis, to incorporate Community Alternative 7 into the Environmental Impact Report for the I-710 widening project, which runs parallel to the Los Angeles River through some of the most economically and environmentally burdened communities in the county. Our partner, East Yard Communities For Environmental Justice (EYCEJ), led the campaign and worked with Supervisor Solis’ office to incorporate the community’s vision for improvements along the I-710 freeway into the project, including bike paths and complete streets, a zero-emissions freight corridor, expanded transit, and greening and water elements. EYCEJ has been engaging communities along the corridor to build momentum for #ReclaimingtheLAriver in Southeast Los Angeles, including a guerrilla-style, bike-in movie screening last Saturday night for their youth program. The event provided space for young members to share their experiences using the river and sound off on the lack of investment the Southeast section has seen when compared to the other areas of the river.
Momentum continues to build for river revitalization in the Southeast as additional leaders and partners emerge to carry the work forward. Assemblymember (and Assembly Speaker-elect) Anthony Rendon’s bill AB 530, which creates a Lower Los Angeles River Working Group, was signed by Governor Brown. Inspired by the City of Los Angeles’s 2007 Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan, the bill will develop similar plans to improve the Lower Los Angeles River, opening up the possibility to create more walking and biking paths, parks and open space, and ecosystem restoration.
Want to learn more about the Los Angeles River and the Southeast Cities? Join our monthly rides in Cudahy on the third Saturday of every month. We meet at 9:45 AM at Cudahy City Hall.
Congratulations to our partners on their successes!
Photos by Serena Grace.