File photo of the Los Angeles River.
An update to the Los Angeles River Link Plan was unanimously approved by the Long Beach City Council Tuesday night, a move that Mayor Robert Garcia hopes will land the city in a collaborative effort with Los Angeles and famed architect, Frank Gehry, in revitalizing the river corridor that ends in Long Beach.
The request was presented to the council by Garcia who had met with the Canadian architect earlier this year to discuss plans for the Long Beach section of the River Link Plan. The mayor said that while improvements have been made to the corridor in the form of the DeForest Wetlands restoration and Drake Park expansion, the plan has not been updated since 2007. Given the recent developments in LA with the recruitment of Gehry, now is the time to capitalize on an update, he said.
“This is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine and have this world-class architect and visionary as part of our river project,” Garcia said.
The 51-mile river runs through a multitude of cities before ending in Long Beach, where Garcia said the city enjoys a lot of the benefits but also a lot of the harm caused by debris and trash washing onto the city’s beaches and into its harbor.
His request calls for City Manager Pat West to review the progress made over the last eight years, and engage with the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation to better create a more collaborative and expansive river rehabilitation project.
While the update to the plan eventually garnered unanimous support, Eighth District Councilman Al Austin expressed some concerns in regard to the fiscal impact of the project, stating he did not want the city to “go into something blindly,” when the budget and looming deficits have been the central topics for the council over the past few weeks.
“I do have some concerns with this because it doesn’t speak to the fiscal impact and I know we are considering our FY16 budget,” Austin said. “How would this be paid for? Have we identified potential funding? I’m not so ambitious to look at funding the entire project, but a study and looking at this is going to require some kind of commitment from this council.”
The mayor acknowledged Austin’s concerns, but said last night’s vote was merely to direct West to update the city’s portion of the River Link Plan and that any future funding needed for the project would be brought back before the council for a vote.
The original plan was devised in 2003 but was last updated in 2007.