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Los Angeles County Releases the LA River Master Plan A Major Step Forward in Equity for the River’s Diverse Communities

Los Angeles County Releases the LA River Master Plan A Major Step Forward in Equity for the River's Diverse Communities

Magazine, The Immigrant Experience

In a briefing hosted by Ethnic Media following a four-year planning process commissioned by the LA County Board of Supervisors,  LA County Public Works released the County’s final LA River Master Plan on May 17. The Plan reflects input from many thousands of community members as a result of a broad, multilingual public outreach effort. Speakers representing Los Angeles County Public Works, the planning team, and community representatives will discuss the plan and a new County proposal to create a land bank for affordable housing. The Plan addresses longstanding issues of infrastructure inequity and the disparities between and within diverse communities. Its objective is to enable local residents to thrive in their neighborhoods and not be displaced by gentrification while improving the health of the river ecosystem for current and future generations of Angelenos.

The very diverse panel constituting community members and stakeholders included Keith Lilley, Deputy Director, Los Angeles County Public Works. He shared that the master plan is now available to the public in the spirit of transparency. Acknowledging indigenous people’s culture and spirit of land, air, and water as a sign of respect for the land. Future generations were considered in the development of the design of the master plan and equally of importance the need to protect communities and people within the LA River. Sharing that over 1million people live within a mile of the river, the new plan focuses on multi-level benefits transforming the river toward equity for the communities’ needs including flood protection, etc.

Dr. Wilma Franco, Ph.D., Executive Director, Southeast Los Angeles Collaborative shared that her organization has been working with partners who have been working on this Master Plan. The work focuses on the Southeast region uplifting the non-profits and communities.  

Making sure that the Master Plan represents the needs of their majority Latino community keeping in mind that the zip code determines the quality of living in that community. The SELA (The South East LA) community has been devastated by Covid and fear of gentrification and how to ensure housing and jobs for their communities is in the Master Plan. 

Sissy Trinh, Founder, and Executive Director, of Southeast Asian Community Alliance, speaking on housing, homelessness, and gentrification revealed that Chinatown is one of the poorest neighborhoods in the community. They have been working in the past years to prevent gentrification and homelessness. Reminding us that Chinatown is really located next to the LA River, people have fought against parks and good community for fear of gentrification.  That has prompted thinking that there has got to be a third way. It is important to have a conversation and ideas to see what sticks.  This is the first infrastructure plan that acknowledges the issue which is huge. Identifying the threats is also very important. This plan gives a bucket of different tools that will work for each community. The Master Plan opens up various funding opportunities for affordable housing which is the biggest problem in Chinatown.

Tensho Takemori, Partner, Gehry Partners, Project Architect, and Planning revealed that his consulting team worked on the Master Plan which began 8years ago addressing the water space and ecosystem surrounding the LA River. It is an extensive effort considering the diverse needs of the community. The plan has 9goals which include: water, open space, arts and culture, equity, affordable housing, homelessness, and engagement and education. It aims to give the people the opportunity to enjoy the amenities that come with the plan. 

The Board of Supervisors recognizes the diversity surrounding the river, the effects of climate change, floods, etc.

It is based on community data that empowers the framework of the local communities. They have a voice. It will be 51miles with open space and access to recreation and connects communities that live on either side of the river.

In closing the Master Plan is there for everyone and every community is welcome to read it and give input on the needs of their communities.

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