Mayor Eric Garcetti and representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers announced on Thursday that the Corps will urge Congress to approve a $1 billion plan to restore parts of the Los Angeles River, as advocated by L.A. leaders.
“We saw a way forward,” Garcetti said at a news conference on the river’s edge. “We saw a goal. We had a dream. We found a plan. Alternative 20, the most robust restoration option that the Army proposed, was something that Angelenos rallied behind.”
Garcetti and other city leaders have urged the Army Corps of Engineers—which manages the river as a flood control channel—to support the $1 billion plan instead of a more modest $453 million alternative the agency originally wanted to recommend to Congress.
The plan will bring federal investment that creates jobs and green space in Los Angeles, Garcetti said.
“A kid who grows up here, along the banks of the L.A. River, shouldn’t have her back to the river and shouldn’t be denied green space simply because of the zip code she’s born in,” Garcetti said. “We should be able to make sure that the promise of connecting to nature, that idea of having open space and that revitalization of that ecology and this waterway is something that every Angelino should enjoy.”
Col. Kim Colloton of the Los Angeles District Army Corps of Engineers said there is substantial federal interest in restoring the river.
“That not only recognizes the importance of the river to Angelenos, but it validates its place as a waterway of national significance,” Colloton said.
On a recent trip to the nation’s capital, Garcetti reached out to Jo-Ellen Darcy, the assistant Army secretary for civil works, in an effort to win federal approval for the ambitious habitat restoration plan, which would also provide recreational opportunities along an 11-mile stretch of the waterway north of downtown.
The city’s lobbying efforts were supported by Sen. Barbara Boxer, Garcetti’s most powerful congressional ally.
The two stepped up their efforts in Washington to persuade the Army Corps of Engineers to approve the $1 billion plan, including motivating Darcy, the Army Corps brass and the White House to back the costlier plan.
“It is great news that the Obama Administration has approved the city’s locally preferred alternative for the revitalization of the Los Angeles River,” Boxer said in a statement issued in the nation’s capital this morning.
Garcetti discussed the project last fall with President Barack Obama and has taken administration officials on tours of the river.
“At the end of the day, I think we have a president who can help,” Garcetti told The Los Angeles Times.
Representatives of Friends of the Los Angeles River and the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corp. expressed thanks for the support of the project.
“Everyone who came to a cleanup, who signed a petition and who helped raised the funds for the Army Corps of Engineers to study this issue is part of this victory today and will be part of a restored Los Angeles River tomorrow,” said Lewis MacAdams, Co-Founder and President of Friends of the Los Angeles River.