Like the Los Angeles River, which cuts through the southern and western parts of the San Fernando Valley, the Pacoima Wash is a concrete flood channel that locals are trying to turn into a useful and beautiful space.
The wash runs through Sylmar, Pacoima, Arleta, and the city of San Fernando, cutting through neighborhoods and creating obstacles for people on bikes and on foot. With few pedestrian crossings over the wash, there aren’t a lot of ways to get around it.
The Pacoima Wash Vision Plan aims to change all that by placing parks and multi-use paths for pedestrians, cyclists, and equestrians parallel to the channel. It also calls for adding pedestrian bridges across the wash.
The ambitious plan is making steady progress on its goals, says Max Podemski, planning director at Pacoima Beautiful, the organization that wrote the Pacoima Wash Vision Plan.
Last year, the city of San Fernando won a grant from the state to build out the first phase of a bikeway along the wash. The 1.34-mile long bike path will parallel the length of the channel through city limits, from Eighth Street near the Pacoima Wash Natural Park down to Fourth Street and Bradley Avenue.
The project would include a pedestrian bridge spanning the wash near the Pacoima Wash Natural Park, increasing access to both sides of the channel.
In their application for the grant, city staffers explain that, right now, the wash slices San Fernando’s existing street network in half and forces pedestrians and bikes onto more dangerous routes: busy, major streets or roads that don’t have sidewalks.
The bike path, they say, would “yield meaningful travel-time savings for non-motorized travelers,” especially the kids whose school is on the opposite side of the wash.
That project is expected to break ground this year, says Podemski. Grant paperwork suggests construction will be complete by the end of 2019.
A new park at El Dorado Street adjacent to the Wash in Pacoima is expected to break ground next year, too, says Podemski. Once complete, the El Dorado Street park, along with El Cariso, Ritchie Valens, and Pacoima Wash Natural Park, will create “an emerald necklace of parks” that will be linked by the greenway.
Bit by bit, pieces of the plan are being filled in.
Los Angeles City Council president Herb Wesson Jr. introduced a motion earlier this year calling on the City Council to identify $2.5 million to build out the rest of the pathway from Bradley Avenue southwest to Haddon Avenue within the City of LA. To date, he’s secured $1.5 million, says spokesperson Caolinn Mejza.