Greening the Los Angeles River

The revitalization of the Los Angeles River is regional priority that encompasses recreation, ecologic, economic and social goals. Although significant planning and fundraising efforts are still underway, a few portions of the 51-mile river have been revitalized. Among them, the Valleyheart Riverwalk in Studio City is an example of a community-driven effort to green part of the LA River. Through fieldwork and archival research, we studied the community effort to establish this greenway, and how this space contributes to the neighborhood’s quality of life. Our analysis showed that local residents access the greenway for the physical and mental health benefits that the place provides. We also found that community involvement in the planning, implementation, and maintenance of the site is vital to the success of the project. However, while Studio City is an affluent community with many active organizations, low-income neighborhoods might not have the capacity to develop similar projects, and might be further left behind in terms of park provision. Therefore, although local efforts are important, larger policy and planning frameworks are necessary to complete the LA River revitalization. If successful, the new LA River could renovate the region’s City Beautiful ambitions introduced by the Olmsted-Bartholomew 1930s plan.