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latest news Environmental groups withdraw support for LA River master plan

A coalition of environmental groups withdrew support for the LA River Master Plan over differences with its recommendations to raise the profile of the concrete flood control channel over the next 25 years.

The groups had been threatening to leave since LA County Public Works included sweeping proposals submitted by famed architect Frank Gehry to turn the abandoned industrial confluence of the Los Angeles River and Rio Hondo at South Gate into a cultural park .

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors was scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to adopt the final LA River master plan.

“The LA River Master Plan is one of the strongest, most progressive and community-based planning efforts LA County has ever undertaken,” said Mark Pestrella, Director and Chief Engineer of the Water Control District. Los Angeles County floods.

“It responds to a wide range of priorities presented to us over three years of community engagement, including ecological disparities, homelessness, gentrification and limited access to open public spaces and clean drinking water. “, did he declare. “We considered all views and perspectives, and the county will continue to work with those who may not have had their priorities elevated above those of others in the final version of the plan.”

Jon Christensen, an environmental historian at UCLA, said, “It would be surprising if the LA River master plan weren’t controversial in some ways.

“Angelenos have been debating the fate of the Los Angeles River and its future for decades now,” Christensen said. “The Los Angeles River Master Plan takes on the nearly impossible task of reconciling all of these competing hopes and visions for the river and for the communities along the river.”

Critics are particularly concerned with Gehry’s vision of “raised platform parks” – massive bridge-like green spaces that occupy government airspace above the canal floor and four feet above from the edge of the canal walls.

Built on huge concrete planks and huge beams, the structures would span almost a mile above the two rivers and support a landscape of trees, grass, scenic ponds, trails horse riding and walking trails.

Gehry and the plan’s development team see the proposal as a way to improve some of Southern California’s poorest and most densely populated communities — and atone for the racial and institutional injustices that have impeded their progress ever since. the Second World War.

But influential nonprofit environmental groups led by Friends of the Los Angeles River, East Yards Communities for Environmental Justice, LA Waterkeeper, Heal the Bay, the Nature Conservancy in California, would prefer to see the naturalization of the river itself.

The coalition announced its decision in a recent letter to county officials and architects that said, in part, “To our dismay, the final plan does not incorporate our comments in a meaningful way.

“We expect the county to remove our names and logos from the plan accordingly,” he added, “unless and until our organizations are given the opportunity to take a formal vote and this vote is reflected in the plan.”

In an interview, Laura Cortez, co-executive director of East Yards Communities for Environmental Justice, summed up what she described as the coalition’s “central concern”.

“LA County Public Works made us believe that through its steering committee we would have real community engagement,” she said, “and that it intended to think outside the box and not to simply add more concrete to the chain.

“Instead,” she said, “or the comments fell on deaf ears.”

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