Los Feliz council considers opening the Rowena Reservoir to the public

Los Feliz -- The agency that oversees the 10-acre Rowena Reservoir property says it's "open to the concept" of allowing the public access to the park-like grounds with decorative lagoons, waterfalls, palm trees and walking paths. But there are several notable caveats, including that it won't pay a dime for making the property accessible and that such a development wouldn't interfere with operations. 

The L.A. Department of Water & Power described its position on the matter in response to a proposal by Councilman David Ryu to study the feasibility of using the reservoir grounds for "passive recreation."

The "LADWP is open to the concept of the Complex being publically accessible so long as it does not interfere with the operation, maintenance, safety, and security of the LADWP Water System facilities at the site," said the agency in a brief report. "In addition, LADWP will not fund any activities, nor provide resources, related to the development costs of opening the Complex, including any feasibility study, environmental documentation, planning, design, permitting, community outreach, construction, operations, maintenance, and security."

Hidden behind dense greenery, berms and encircled by a tall green fence, the 10-million gallon reservoir at Rowena and Hyperion avenues is buried underground. While many have called for public access over the years, the LADWP has resisted, saying it had agreed with the community to keep the property off-limits to the public as the facility was being planned. It opened in 2001 without public access in mind.

"The current design of the Complex is not suitable for public use and would need substantial redesign for public access," said the agency report. "LADWP encourages any effort to open the Complex to the public include a community outreach effort lead by the agencies tasked with this proposed project."

A survey of 230 residents by the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council found that 84% of those who live within one mile of the reservoir “support a lot” the idea of opening the property during daylight hours. However, that level of support dropped to 60% among those who lived within half mile of the reservoir. Meanwhile, 30% of those who lived nearby opposed the idea.

If the City Council adopts Ryu's proposal, the LADWP, the Department of Recreation and Parks and other city offices would be directed to conduct a feasibility study and determine how much it would cost to open up the Rowena Reservoir property to the public. 

The City Council is scheduled to review the matter on Sept. 11.

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