Echo Park Lake neighbors learn to live with construction dust and noise

By Samuel Temblador

Since moving into an apartment across from Echo Park Lake two months ago, Jared Dunkin has had to put up with sheets of dust swept up by the construction activity at the lake. Along with his car, Dunkin’s dust-beleaguered porch, which faces the lake, gets covered in dust every three days and has to be cleaned once a week. “Every three days, my shoes leave shoe prints on the wood floor,” said Dunkin.

The dust, however, is only “slightly annoying” said Dunkin, who added that he has not experienced any dust-related respiratory problems. In fact, Dunkin said construction noise is more bothersome than dust as earth movers, trucks, and other construction equipment rumble across the now dry lake bed. But even the noise has not been that bad, he said. At least the workers were not using jackhammers.“That would be way worse.”

Dunkin and the other residents who live, work and walk around Echo Park Lake have been exposed to a year of dust, noise and other construction related inconveniences as the lake and surrounding park is remade under a $65 million water-quality improvement project  that is expected to be completed next spring. While concerns about the health impact of the dust have been raised at community meetings devoted to the lake clean up, residents like Dunkin don’t seem too be worried.

According to Michelle Vargas, a public information officer for the Department of Public Works, 60 truckloads of dirt are carried away from the construction site each day, Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m to 4 p.m. The flow of truck traffic is expected to last through November of this year.

During a recent community meeting, Joyce Dillard said that “the dirt’s so dry it’s going all over the place.” But Vargas said a tanker truck spraying water in the area is meant to keep the dust down several times a day. “Dust is mitigated four times a day, twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon.”

Still, clouds of dust can still be seen floating near the lake, especially when trucks loaded with dirt emerge from the construction area on Echo Park and Bellevue avenues. The Environmental Impact Report for the project warned residents that the construction activity would have a significant impact on some measure of air quality and noise.

David Basilio, a neighborhood resident for 9 years who lives in an apartment on Echo Park Avenue,said h e had not really thought about the health consequences posed by the dust and construction activity.

“Truthfully, I don’t know what it might be doing from a health perspective. I hadn’t really thought about it,” said Basilio. The area has “always been dusty. I guess there’s been more but not wild amount.”

The multicolored Cathedral Center of St. Paul, home to Los Angeles’ Episcopal diocese, rises directly across the street from one of the entrances used by trucks and other construction vehicles to enter and exit the lake. But church spokesman and Cannon for Community Relations Robert Williams said that the construction activity has caused no problems.

“Any minor inconvenience created by the flow of trucks is temporary and necessary to completion of the overall project,” Williams said. “Parishioners participating in Sunday services experience few problems with access or noise because construction is suspended on weekends.” (Construction work does take place on Saturdays).

Some residents said the construction-related dust and noise are worth putting up with. While his car like many others regularly gets a fresh coat of dust; Greg, an Echo Park Avenue resident for 14 years, said that is to be expected.

“I can’t wait until next Spring when it’s done,” said Greg, who declined to provide his last name. But “if you want to see improvements, you have to live with the process. The pay off is gonna be a better park.”

Samuel Temblador is a  UCLA student from South L.A. interested in journalism and communications.


  1. Michelle Vargas, the communications team, and the project team have done a terrific job overall. Plus, neighbors have been very patient considering the inconvenience they must deal with. When I worked on this, we focused on the most efficient way to get this project done with the main objective to deliver the project on time and on budget-or better. Some scenario’s had the work being carried out over a 3-4 year period, which would have added to the financial cost of the project and what I would describe as the misery cost to the community. I received confirmation again last week that the project is under budget (!) and on schedule for a May, 2013 dedication!

  2. I agree. I live on Laguna and the noise / general chaos hasn’t been nearly as bad as we expected. Plus those guys have been working 6 days a week out there, in sweltering heat for the last couple of weeks. I look forward to seeing the finished product next spring!

  3. I live on Laguna also. They are not only working 6 days a week but sometimes well into the evening. Last night at 10 pm they were loading a big machine onto a trailer. I gladly trade the sounds from the construction site instead of gunshots.

    There are so many problems going on at echo park lake its no even funny. I have attended many of their community Propostion O/ Echo Park meeting and have been raising the question about Wildlife and the health and safty of our community.

    You need to check out this link:

    And keep in mind that Echo Park Lake was identified in the 2006 California 303 (d) listed as being an impaired body of water containing algae, ammonia, copper, eutrophic (low oxygen) conditions, lead, odor, PCBs, pH, and trash. What does this mean? Echo Park Lake’s dirt has lead and other harmful contaminants. Now that we have no water in the Lake all the lead and other harmful contaminants are exposed to wind which if you read the artical above is being blown everywhere . I tried warning everybody at every meeting about what can happen with toxic dust flying around our community. I am very worried about our children and seniors health and safty in our community. We have at least 7 schools around the area . I have asked my fellow community members to do your research click on this link!!!


    I’ve also have stress to attend your Pro O meeting or any community meeting and voice your conserns.

    I have made many request for information about what happen to our wildlife (domestic duck’s, wild ducks, turtles, and fish) and still waiting for a solid answer and not getting “i will get back to you”. They have stated they will not be doing any artiffical nesting for our fish. Echo park Lake is historically a fishing lake. I grew up fishing in echo park and I also worked with California Department of Fish and Game biologist for over 15 years on Echo Park Lake fishery. Echo Park Lake has raised some of the biggest Bass around and has had a great year round fishery for our youth to enjoy. Propostion O staff said they will not be putting back one of the most important parts of echo park lakes fishery and that is nesting ground for our fish to reporduce.

    If you have anyquestion please email me


  5. What is more annoying is the construction that is going on just up the street at Echo Park Ave and Morton on the 34 on Echo Condo Project! It’s a constant barage of hammering, semi-trucks driving past, etc. They start promptly at 8AM. Since I live across the street, and work from my house in the mornings, it’s been quite an annoyance to put up with. I can’t wait until they’re done building that monstrosity. Plus, similar to people down by the lake I’m sure, my car and my house are constantly covered in dust.

  6. Hmm, so Vincent, the lake is horribly contaminated, enough so that when it’s dry people in the neighborhood should be concerned, but it also was a lake that supported big bass and a bunch of wildlife?

    • Jaylin its very simple if you think about it. you know your sink and toilet have whats called a trap, you know that little curve that holds that pocket of water to keep the smell from comming through.

      same thing with the lake, you remove the water the dirt dries and it becomes air born. Arizona and the other dryer states have dust storms right? cuz the wind picks up the dirt and takes it all over the place. When the trucks drive around the site they kick up the dirt also, I should know cuz were always hoseing down our work area cuz the dust keeps getting tracked in.

      If this lake was so impaired that it needed this money to be spent on because of what they said they found was wrong with the lake dirt which is why they are removing it, I do not want to be breathing that stuff nor should my little Neas and nephews which are more suceptible to the impacts this could cause of them and all children.

      There were other plans submitted to do the same project more efficiantly and effectivly without impacting the publics health and safety. Have you ever owned a fish tank? theres a thing tube that sucks out the crap from the bottom of the tanks without haveing to remove all the water and your fish avoiding stressing them out. which allows you to just add new water once you finished cleaning your tank. I forgot whats its called but its availible in every pet store that sells fish.

      same concept that could of been done and has been done in other lake projects before, but when it comes to bond money like this I guess its better to have job security and fuck everone else right? Thats why there moving so fast on the project and saying its gonna look nice, its gonna be great…

      I’ll tell you what it aint worth my medical bills I will incure if I came down with something as a result of this project, and that my friend nobody thinks about until it happens to them…And by then its to little to late dont you think?

  7. Yes it supported Big Bass and wildlife. The contamination is in the lake bed sediment (dirt). When the lake had water in it, it worked like a barrior containing all the lead and other harmful matrials at the bottom. When propostion O removed the water they have now exposed all contamnats to our enviorment. If you live in echo park you can go up and down the community and see all the toxic dust everywhere or take a walk to the lake on a windy day to see if for yourself. Keep in mind of all the contaminates that where found in the enviormental impact report that was done on Echo Park Lake its all documented. I have always asked my fellow community member to do your research on any type of project that comes in to our community. Propostion O only talked about how good and nice it would be to fix up echo park at a cost of $65 million But never talked about the cost to our Health and safety of the community.

    As for the Bass in Echo Park Lake as with any fish it’s all in what they eat. Bass love to eat the stocked rainbow trout , bluegill, crayfish and in the spring might have a baby duckling. These other fish usually feed on other fish, shrimp, bugs, or freshwater plakton. The large mouth bass is a top feeder most of the time. A bottom feeder would be a catfish which just eats almost anything. I worked on many projects with California Department of fish and game one of which happen to test echo park lakes fish for contamination and they found none. There are guide lines for people who fish and eat them. They reconmend that children 0 to 5 have very limited amounts of some kinds of fish do to lead.

    Please attend your local meeting and alway bring up the questions on the health and safety of our community

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *