One River, One Plan
(Sacramento) – A bill to unify a plan to expand public space management and improve public access of the LA River through the expansion of the LA River Rangers Program will become law January 1, 2018. The bill by local Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) was brought forward by the Lower Los Angeles River Group established by AB 530 (Rendon, 2015).
“The LA River should be a major source of recreation for people like me in LA County who like to walk their dogs, ride their bikes or just like to get outside to enjoy the SoCal weather,” said Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Chair of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. “But not all parts of the river are exactly inviting, let alone safe. It’s got the potential to be more than just a river of concrete. Rather than an “urban heat island” it could be a scenic open space for recreation or even used for enhanced flood control, if it’s managed with a cohesive vision like this [bill] empowers.”
Assembly Bill 1558 requires the plan development for a comprehensive Los Angeles River Ranger Program, drawing together all the multiple government entities with jurisdiction over the river for the first time. Its two state conservancies – Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Rivers & Mountains Conservancy – would lead the program’s development with other state and local agencies. The plan would be completed by June 30, 2018.
Currently, there are more than 20 cities along the river and its tributaries, in addition to many special districts. An LA River Rangers program currently exists, but only manages the northern part of the river.
“With governance divided among public agencies, the LA River needed a unifying force to draw together state and local governments to manage and promote the public space along its banks,” added Garcia. “This bill does that for the entire LA River, and its tributaries, as one system.”
The expanded program will help the LA River communities with more than just law enforcement. A unified program will coordinate all of the state and local agencies with jurisdiction on the river to collaboratively provide solutions on its environmental protection and land management. Like the National Park Service Rangers, the Los Angeles River Rangers could offer programming that engages and educates local communities in caring for the river. The Rangers also would monitor conditions on the river, protect people who use the river’s public spaces and engage the community in the protection and preservation of the river’s resources.
The 58th Assembly District includes the cities of Montebello, Pico Rivera, Commerce, Bell Gardens, Downey, Norwalk, Bellflower, Cerritos and Artesia.