California's Department of Transportation has awarded $339,000 to Community Conservation Solutions (CCS), a group spearheading a project they say will clean polluted urban runoff and provide easy access for the public to the Los Angeles River. The grant will restore native habitat by planting over 4,000 trees and shrubs between Coldwater Canyon and Whitsett boulevards along the L.A. River in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Studio City.
A concept plan developed by Mia Lehrer & Associates, a landscape architecture firm working with CCS, hopes to develop regional public access along the river. "Incrementally we're starting to see these planning projects starting to take hold," said Mia Lehrer, who has worked on cleaning up and beautifying the river for at least 20 years. "Improvements and projects that are underway. It takes decades of planning before you can actually start digging."
The habitat restoration work is expected to begin nine to 12 months from now. "It's going to look incredibly different," said Lehrer. "It will allow not only to get more shade but also to protect the embankment from erosion."
The work is part of a larger effort to work with officials to create a natural park along that part of the L.A. River that Lehrer sees as gaining support. The vision includes taking over the adjacent Weddington Golf & Tennis where a condominium project is now proposed.
"It's a labor of love to build community," said Lehrer. "You encourage a younger generation of designers to understand that part of the role as designers is that we hold some important tools to help citizens solve problems and visualize what the solution will be."
Other projects impacting the River are also underway. Glendale's City Council approved a $800,000 in funding though Measure R to construct to bridges -- one which will connect a trail between the first phase of riverwalk and another which would continue a bikepath and pedestrian walkway to the Verdugo pass. The bridge would lead to Griffith Park. A private $4 million donation covers most of the $5 million in estimated costs.
Lehrer praised the project, suggesting the bridge will be "iconic" and a "gateway" for many communities, including equestrian enthusiasts.