The Journey to Verdugo Wash
The Verdugo Wash is a tributary of the LA River whose headwaters are in the San Gabriel mountains, and that runs 9.5 miles through the entire City of Glendale.
Glendale’s bike master plan was last updated in 2012. The plan called for a Class 1 bike path along the Wash from Crescenta Valley Park in the northern part of the city all the way to its confluence with the LA River in the south. Such a path would connect the entire city, and essentially be the “spine” for the entire bike network. Coincidentally, Walk Bike Glendale was formed during the master plan update process when then-LACBC staffer, Colin Bogart worked with local area folks to capitalize on the enthusiasm generated by the update to create the Glendale chapter of LACBC!
In 2014, my wife and I were inspired during a visit to Denver, CO when we visited Cherry Creek. Cherry Creek, like the Verdugo Wash, is a waterway that runs through the city which was converted into a concrete channel about 100 years ago in response to flood concerns. Over the last several decades Cherry Creek was re-envisioned and converted into essentially a linear park which includes bike paths, connections to neighborhoods and adjacent parks. We asked ourselves why couldn’t something similar be done in Glendale.
When we got home we looked into the opportunity, and realized that, although the Bike Plan calls for the path, such a large project would not occur unless the City Council was convinced there was considerable community support. We met with other folks on the WBG steering committee, and decided to collaborate to conduct community outreach. Our target groups were homeowner associations adjacent to the Wash, community organizations, environmental groups and civic and state leaders. Although we met a number of folks who expressed their opposition due to concerns of privacy and security, the vast majority of groups were strongly in support of at least studying the proposed project, and were willing to provide us with letters of support. We also conducted a robust petition effort, both online and at local farmer’s markets. We were able to gather several thousand signatures.
In 2021, the support letters and signatures were submitted to City staff who ultimately took a proposal to study the project before City Council. The proposal was approved, and approximately $500K was allocated.
The City contracted !melk as primary consultant on its “Visioning Study”. Working with Buro Happold and others, !melk is currently in the process of designing the initial concepts of the project. They also formed a working group comprised of community stakeholders to provide input. Walk Bike Glendale has a seat at that table. We understand the Study will be completed some time later this year, and submitted to City Council for their consideration. If the study is approved, we will need to advocate for the next step, a feasibility and engineering study.
LACBC members can provide assistance by visiting the City’s website, www.verdugowash.com, familiarizing themselves with the project and taking the online survey (which is not limited to Glendale residents). For those who want to advocate for projects in their own communities, they can visit the website we used to conduct our outreach, www.arroyoverdugogreenway.com which was designed by Justin Klein who sits on the WBG steering committee.