WASHINGTON -- Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is breaking new ground — or waters — in lobbying federal officials to support a $1-billion project to restore a stretch of the Los Angles River. He’s taking Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy on a kayak ride on the river Thursday.
Garcetti, on his first trip to Washington as the city’s chief executive last month, visited Capitol Hill and the White House in a push for a restoration project that is more than double the cost of the one recommended by the Army Corps of Engineers, even talking up the project with President Obama.
The mayor faces long odds, given that the Republican-controlled House has pushed to cut spending and the Army Corps faces a $60-billion-plus backlog of other projects awaiting funding.
Still, his lobbying comes as congressional negotiators, led by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and a supporter of the mayor’s efforts, are writing a new water-projects bill that could advance the project.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), who has taken his son kayaking in the river, offered this advice: "Learn to look at the ripples in the water that are hiding the rocks below or you’re going to go for a swim."
"It’s a great experience," Schiff added in an interview. "You feel like you’re a million miles away from L.A.’"
The mayor and EPA chief will travel a nine-mile stretch of the river known as the Glendale Narrows, one of the river's sections without a concrete floor, according to a spokesman for the mayor.
Joining Garcetti and McCarthy will be Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld and staff from the Army Corps.