Practicum Project | 2022

Providing parks and greenspace to Los Angeles River communities

The 51-mile Los Angeles River, once a meandering river home to lush wetlands and thick with trout that sustained Native Gabrielino-Tongva communities, is instead now a highly polluted, concrete-lined channel with a high flood risk and degraded native ecosystems. Long overlooked as a resource and recreation area for the City and the numerous distinct LA communities it bisects, the River has received increased attention in recent years as the Los Angeles City Council and others have begun major efforts to restore and revitalize the River. One of the more controversial aspects of the City’s plans includes a proposal to build artificial platform parks on top of the river in an effort to create greenspace in surrounding – often park-poor – communities. While the intention behind this proposal is admirable, the plan is costly and may prevent future restoration of the river ecosystem due to the additional concrete infrastructure.

Our team is partnering with Los Angeles Waterkeeper to identify alternative park locations near the Los Angeles River that might better support community needs through distributed and community-oriented projects that would create a more dynamic variety of parks and greenspace in closer proximity to residents. LA Waterkeeper is a non-profit organization that works to eliminate pollution in local waterways and advocates for sustainable water infrastructure projects in the Los Angeles region. We will conduct both remote and on-site spatial analyses of the area to identify brownfields, open lots, and other spaces that are potentially viable locations for new parks, and which can promote local water quality and water supply benefits. Through collaboration with local community members and stakeholders, we will recommend equitable park locations based on community needs and preferences.

Student Team: Ruben Bergtraun, Ava Blanchette, Areli Caballero, Caroline Cheng, Sierra Cheslick, Julia Lindner, and Kat Sulimov

Client: Los Angeles Waterkeeper

Advisor: Professor Alan Barreca

2022 LA Waterkeeper Practicum Final Report