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State Bill Would Legalize Public Access to Stretches of LA River

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The California Legislature is lending its support to LA's changing relationship with its river. Senate Bill 1201 (pdf), introduced by State Senator Kevin de León, would allow access to the soft bottom stretches of the LA River by dealing with the liability issues caused by the river's current, heavily engineered state. According to LA Creek Freak, the bill "reclassifies natural-bottom flood channels as natural rivers, which is necessary to relieve local agencies of the responsibility (liability) for harm that occurs if someone is injured goofing around in 'improved' rivers, er, flood channels." To do so, the bill would amend the Los Angeles County Flood Control Act to "provide for public use of navigable waterways under the district’s control that are suitable for recreational and educational purposes."

The bill, drafted by Friends of the Los Angeles River and UCLA's Environmental Law Clinic, would also create the Los Angeles River Interagency Access Council to represent the many state and local agencies that oversee the river. That group would have the responsibility of designating the stretches of river that would be open for those recreational and educational uses, but not until after the bill passes. The bill has a long way to go before it is approved--it was introduced on February 22 and is now in committee.

Creek Freak makes the point that SB 1201, if passed, can only help in the ongoing effort to pull concrete out of the river. That's also one of the long term goals of the LA River Implementation Overlay currently moving through the city's approval process. Image via the Huffington Post
· Senate Bill 1201 (pdf) [State of California]
· Proposed Senate Bill to open up river access [LA Creek Freak]