L.A. River advocates build support for a more ambitious – and costly – restoration plan

Congressman Adam Schiff on Friday joined Congressman Xavier Becerra and other elected officials in supporting a $1 billion proposal that would restore hundreds of acres of wildlife habitat and create new open space along  a section of the Los Angeles River between Griffith Park and downtown Los Angeles.

The $1 billion proposal is among four alternatives outlined in a feasibility study and preliminary environmental impact report that is now under public review. The Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the waterway, came out in support of a plan called Alternative 13, which at $453 million is the second least expensive of the four restoration proposals. The corps’ preference disappointed many river advocates, which have been pushing  for  Alternative 20, that would restore more habitat and create more park space but also cost at about $1 billion to implement.

Alternative 20 includes all the elements in Alternative 13, which focuses on river restoration efforts from Griffith Park through Lincoln Heights, to include more large-scale restoration of the Cornfields area north of Chinatown, the Piggyback railyard in Lincoln Heights, and the Verdugo Wash near Glendale.

“Today, I join fellow nature lovers and river advocates in voicing my support for Alternative 20 – and a comprehensive restoration of the LA River,” said Rep. Schiff in a statement. “The Army Corps’ report showcased several different alternatives for restoration of the L.A. River, and it’s now up to river advocates to push for an expansive plan that will make the river contiguous and includes significant ecological restoration – and the best choice is ‘Alternative 20.’”

Fellow Democratic Congressman Xavier Becerra  has also come out in  favor of the more costly restoration proposal as one that not only revives the wateryway’s ecosystem but also reconnects residents and the river. “Let’s grasp this opportunity to reimagine a once blighted and neglected waterway into a foundation for more sustainable and livable communities,” he said.

On Saturday, proponents of Alternative 20 held an L.A. River Rally in Elysian Valley to help mobilize more grass roots support of the $1 billion plan,which would be paid through a combination of federal and local funds.  Mayor Eric Garcetti has also joined the Alternative 20 bandwagon,  posting an online petition in favor of the proposal on his website.

The preliminary report is  subject to a 45-day comment period before a final report is completed and a recommendation is sent to to Congress.

Click here for a copy of the preliminary report.


  1. I love how only photos of this same tiny area of the river are ALWAYS used when referencing the LA River. I’ve seen some amazingly framed shots where if the camera pulled back just another foot or so you’d see the REAL river.

    • Regardless of which alternative is implemented, more of this stretch will be similar to the segment that is in frame here. With Alternative 20, there will also be some larger wetland areas.

      As for which is the “real” river, who really cares. What I care about is what the river is like now, and what it could be like a few decades from now, and perhaps something about how it compares to what it was like 150 or 200 years ago. (Though of course, back then, it sometimes flowed to the Ballona Creek instead of to Long Beach.)

  2. the piggyback yard is a non starter.

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