Opinion: A revitalized L.A. River can still protect Los Angeles from flooding

Birds soar above the Los Angeles River in Vernon after a rainstorm.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: In his column about state funding for revitalization efforts along the L.A. River, George Skelton pits one critical need (flood control) against another (park space). Skelton may be a seasoned Capitol watcher, but he misses a key point about his own backyard. (“Parks are pork, but flood control saves lives. That’s the tension just under the surface of the L.A. River,” June 26)

Smart policymakers realize that it’s not an either-or situation along the river. In the face of climate change and ongoing water scarcity, it is irresponsible to invest limited public funds to meet only one goal. Our parks have the capacity to easily accommodate multi-benefit infrastructure that serves many needs, including replenishing aquifers, buffering against floods and reducing the heat-island effect.

The union of parks, open space and water management isn’t wishful thinking; it’s happening right now. At South Los Angeles Wetlands Park, a former brownfield now cleanses storm water while providing open space to a park-poor community. Flood-prone Elmer Avenue in the San Fernando Valley has been transformed, using nature to soak up rainwater before it inundates the streets.


Parks aren’t pork. They’re essential to a smarter, more sustainable region.

James Alamillo, Santa Monica

The writer is urban programs manager for Heal the Bay.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook