Los Angeles River Restoration

Your article and accompanying editorial (Sept. 5) on my efforts to restore the Los Angeles River paint an incomplete picture.

The Los Angeles River, a largely untapped urban resource, presents a tremendous opportunity to breathe new life into the Los Angeles region. In 1990, I sponsored successful legislation to explore the park and recreational potential of the river corridor. Senate Bill 20X, now on the governor's desk, is an outgrowth of that legislation. The bill would establish a broadly representative Los Angeles River Conservancy, charged with exploring and developing an environmental and urban plan for the river corridor. Components of the SB 20X plan would include parks and recreation, housing, wildlife enhancement, water recharging to save fresh water during floods, and, if possible, elevated, "emission-free" mass transit--all of which could provide needed jobs in the region.

The bill does not specifically authorize or endorse a monorail along the river. Rather, it requires a study of the feasibility of elevated transit alongside the river, conducted in conjunction with Caltrans and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority. No project could move forward without the express approval of Caltrans and the conservancy board, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers, which has ultimate power over the river.

At present, the Los Angeles River is a 58-mile concrete eyesore, the butt of jokes and derision. SB 20X lays the groundwork to combine environmental renewal with economic development and to create something new and vital for our city. It envisions attracting capital through public-private partnerships and through urban waterfront bond-funding sources.

Cities throughout the world have used rivers flowing through their centers to create surroundings that dramatically enhance the quality of life, stimulate and attract public and private investment, and provide an ample supply of safe park and recreational areas for children and families. Just as the world has looked to Los Angeles to be the leader in setting lifestyles, the restoration of the Los Angeles River could again place us in the world forefront of improving the quality of life for residents and visitors.

SEN. ART TORRES

D-Los Angeles

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