Aired 5.30. 2015
Today, some thoughts on the perennial potential of the L.A. River.
Prompting me was attending a recent workshop under the banner of Yale’s annual Day of Service, which had gathered a well-intentioned gaggle of talents to brainstorm an arts project to grace the river.
Orchestrated by Elaine Rene Weisman, an architect who has been involved in several River related projects, and aided by Esther Margulies, the river’s fractured past, and present problems and promise, were put into perspective.
Several loosely defined art projects and venues were suggested, and are to be further explored, with eventually one selected bearing the imprimatur of Yale, to be sited, designed and funded.
If the river generates anything, it is the hope that such efforts can be pursued, individually, with each its own advocates, and in time be strung together to become the region’s focal point it once was when it attracted settlers to the Southland some 250 years ago.
To be sure, there is an ambitious plan for the 51-mile waterway slicing through a multitude of municipalities. Displayed is the promise of promenades, bike paths, pedestrian bridges and so called “opportunity areas” for convenient food stands and much needed housing.
The renderings are engaging, as is the plan and other pronouncements from the usual think tank sinecures.
But given the region’s fractious political history, the plan cannot be considered more than a long range blueprint. We are talking here 50 years or so implementing a variety of comprehensive improvements to make the River a prized regional resource.
And no one seems to know exactly where, when and how the needed funds will be forthcoming, beginning with the one billion dollars plus promised by the federal government.
As for Los Angeles stepping up to the plate, as those with institutional memories remind us, the city is notoriously long on promises, and short on delivery, particularly under term limits where politicians play musical chairs and toot their horns, while projects languish.
That is why most of us long time River advocates are looking with humble hope to individual projects such as the Yale initiative.
And personally, I like small public projects, spaces and places that are comfortable, clean and safe, where you can also if need be keep an eye on the kids.
I’m Sam Hall Kaplan, and this is the city observed, heard on KBU 97.5 fm, and streaming everywhere.