A years-long effort to revitalize the Los Angeles River took a step forward on Wednesday, Jan. 13, when county officials released the draft version of the updated LA River Master Plan.

The 494-page document details the needs of the communities who live along the river, the geographical and environmental limitations that need to be taken into account when addressing those needs, and the opportunities and potential projects that can help rejuvenate the 51-mile waterway.

LA County is accepting public comment on the draft plan for the next 60 days, and officials hope the plan will go before the county’s Board of Supervisors for approval by this summer.

Supervisor Hilda Solis kicked off the effort to update the LA River Master Plan in 2016, 20 years after the plan was first adopted.

“The release of the draft LA River Master Plan marks a significant milestone for all Angelenos,” Solis said in a Wednesday briefing. “The master plan, as you know, will lay out the vision for what the LA River can and should offer to all of our communities.”

In addition to 56 major projects that are already in the works along the river, such as the LA River Valley Bikeway and Greenway project that’s set to provide nearly 13 miles of new bike path and greenway facilities in the San Fernando Valley, the draft plan also proposes 22 new major project sites and 208 more locations for smaller improvements, like new pavilions.

The projects listed create the opportunity, according to the document, for an improvement on every quarter mile of the river on average.

Some of the major undertakings, which the document refers to as the “system-based” proposals, impact the entire river. And while those projects — like the LA River Trail or flood control efforts — largely focus on the river itself, the plan also takes the impact on nearby communities into consideration.

The plan, for example, calls “for the creation of a land bank or similar entity to purchase land along the river while it is still inexpensive and hold it for eventual sale or lease to developers of affordable housing.”

Other projects, meanwhile, are “site-based,” meaning they focus on specific portions of the river.

One of the site-based projects proposed is the Compton-Paramount Connectivity Corridor, which would transform a parcel of land just north of the 91 Freeway, currently used as a right-of-way for transmission lines, into a greenway across the LA River and the 710 Freeway. The greenway, which would include an elevated platform park and pedestrian bridge to link communities in Paramount, Compton and North Long Beach, could allow space for a cafe pavilion, a plaza, a shade grove and an upland habitat for migrating birds.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said during the Wednesday briefing that separating the plan into the system-based and site-based proposals was intentional.

“By developing a master plan, we wanted to achieve a balance,” she said, “between a sort of coherent holistic plan for the entire expanse of the river, while providing a great deal of local community control and benefit.”

And she said she believed the current product, aimed to “be a significant and innovative reimagining of all 51 miles of the LA River,” achieved that goal.

“We hoped this plan would be a masterpiece,” Kuehl said, “and so far, I think we are nailing it, if I may say.”

But the work isn’t done yet. Changes will still be made to the draft plan in response to the suggestions officials receive during the 60-day public comment period.

To review the plan and provide feedback, visit larivermasterplan.org.

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