Last year, Los Angeles County and various partner organizations completed work on a new revitalization plan for the Lower Los Angeles River.  The plan, created in coordination with various jurisdictions and stakeholders along the 19-mile corridor, envisions the construction of new parks, bridges, and river access points between the City of Vernon in the north and San Pedro Bay in the south.  Now, in an effort to stymie displacement as a result of this effort, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is taking steps to direct state funds towards the development of affordable housing along the river corridor.

Due to state legislation passed nearly two decades ago, the County is poised to receive $41 million from the State of California to reimburse costs for the construction of flood risk management projects between the Rio Hondo and the City of Long Beach.  Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn have introduced a motion which calls for that money to be directed towards displacement strategies including: 

  • land banking parcels along the Lower L.A. River corridor to be used for the development of affordable and permanent supportive housing developments; 
  • funding community-based organizations and service providers which support residents along the corridor; and
  • creating workforce and economic development opportunities along the corridor.

The motion, amended at today's meeting of the Board of Supervisors, directs the Director of Public Works to report back in 90 days with a plan.  Additionally, Supervisors Solis and Hahn removed any reference to the "Lower" Los Angeles River, making the effort applicable to the entire 51-mile waterway.

The 19-mile Lower L.A. River Corridor includes more than a dozen jurisdictions, including the cities of Long Beach, Carson, Paramount, Compton, Lynwood, South Gate, Cudahy, Huntington Park, and Bell.  A displacement study conducted as part of the revitalization effort found that 64 percent of households along the corridor are considered low-income, and that there are 2,500 homeless persons living along the river.  Addtionally, studies found that the communities along the Lower L.A. River have access to just one-third the amount of park space of the average County resident.

"We have a unique opportunity to prioritize the State’s $41 million reimbursement so that it is dedicated to communities like the ones who live near the Lower LA River, in Northeast Los Angeles, and across the San Gabriel Valley: disadvantaged, high-need neighborhoods who must receive the greatest benefits from our investments. My motion today ensures that prioritization," said Solis in a statement.

The County is currently engaged in an update to its master plan for the entire Los Angeles River - stretching 51 miles between its headwaters in the San Fernando Valley and its discharge point in Long Beach.  Several new parks and pedestrian bridges have already open or started construction along a core stretch running between Griffith Park and Chinatown.

Likewise, private parties have also undertaken their own improvement efforts.  Perhaps the most unique of these comes from Chinatown-based Metabolic Studios, which has initiated work on a water wheel just south of the North Broadway Bridge.