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State awards $98M for LA River’s revitalization—here’s how it will be spent

“This investment is key” to the waterway’s big makeover


The state’s newly adopted budget sets aside $98 million for the LA River, money that the Los Angeles Daily News said today could be used to build “soccer fields, picnic areas and hiking paths.”

Elected officials from the state and from neighborhoods across the county gathered today on the river to celebrate, “in a sign that the disparate municipalities on the banks of the river were working together,” the Daily News said.

The money will be spent primarily in disadvantaged communities that line the 51-mile channel, from Long Beach to Canoga Park.

“When we started this conversation ... we wanted to talk about restoring all of Los Angeles and not leaving parts behind, because historically, in the past, we restore certain areas, the areas that do well,” Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, who reps neighborhoods in Southeast LA, said.

About $49 million will go to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy for projects along the upper half of the river, with the rest going to the San Gabriel & Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy for projects on the lower half.

The two groups will divvy up funds in the forms of grants to various nonprofits and groups working to revitalize the river and its tributaries, like River LA and Friends of the LA River (FOLAR). That hasn’t happened yet, which explains why we haven’t seen a detailed plan for how the money will be spent.

“There are 2,100 acres of land within the flood control channel that we want to unlock for public benefit. This investment is key to moving this vision forward,” River LA's Executive Director Omar Brownson said.

Marissa Christiansen, executive Director FOLAR, tells Curbed her organization would put the money toward gathering input from residents about the types of things they want to see built, in addition to ripping out concrete on a three-mile stretch of the waterway.

“We need to keep community and political focus on the viability of tearing out concrete, and this is the type of funding that’s going to let us get there,” she said.

The state also kicked in $25 million to help the city buy the Taylor Yard, a 41-acre riverside parcel in Cypress Park that Mayor Eric Garcetti has dubbed the “crown jewel” of the river’s revitalization.