Working group publishes plans for upper Los Angeles River revitalization

Tree grows in the Los Angeles River, Glendale Narrows, Los Angeles, California. (Citizen of the Planet/UIG via Getty Images)

A plan to revitalize the Upper Los Angeles River and its tributaries has been approved by a state working group, Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez announced Friday.

The Upper Los Angeles River and Tributaries Working Group adopted the Upper Los Angeles River and Tributaries Revitalization Plan, which identifies more than 300 recreation and conservation projects.

The plan could bring open-space amenities to more than 625,000 "disadvantaged residents" within a half mile of the river tributaries, Rodriguez said.

"The plan brings long-overdue attention to the often-ignored upper portion of the L.A. River and surrounding communities," Rodriguez said. "We must reverse decades of haphazard development that left this region without open space and accelerate greener, healthier neighborhoods for our kids and future generations."

Rodriguez chaired the ULART Working Group, and any plans must be adopted by the full City Council and respective governments before they are enacted.

The projects will prioritize communities along the Aliso Canyon Wash, Pacoima Wash, Tujunga Wash, Burbank Western Channel, Verdugo Wash, Arroyo Seco and the Upper Los Angeles River.

The plan provides a framework to guide local government in pursuing funding for and implementing projects that restore natural habitats in areas that have been cemented over for decades, the councilwoman said.

Rodriguez said the projects throughout Los Angeles County could:

-- Increase access to open space within walking distance to 1.53
million people;

-- Capture 8,000 acre-feet of stormwater per year;

-- Plant and maintaining 250,000 trees;

-- Provide 1,000 miles of shaded green streets and trails; and

-- Preserve, enhance and create 6,000 acres of urban wildlife ecology.

"This conversation is especially important today amid the COVID-19 crisis -- greater investment in open space and the physical environment means better health outcomes for our families," Rodriguez said.

Over a period of 20 months, the working group held 33 public meetings to gather input on the plan.

A copy of the plan is available in English and Spanish at

The ULART Working Group was established by state legislation in 2017 to develop the revitalization plan, which was administered by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, according to the working group's website.

According to the website, representatives in the working group are from the state of California, Los Angeles County and the cities adjoining the Upper Los Angeles River, along with community leaders and assistance from non-government organizations.