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Flood Channel or River?

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Is the LA River really a river? Flowing from headwaters in the San Fernando Valley through to Long Beach, where it meets the ocean, the LA River that most of us see is less river and more concrete spillway. Yes, the one in Grease. LAist was recently out to a portion of the river with a naturalist and photographer from the East Coast. "I've never seen anything quite like it," he said sadly of the paved channel.

But in Los Angeles hope springs eternal, and interest in LA River restoration has been piqued in recent years. We note Pat Morrison waxing poetic in Rio LA, formation of a river committee by the City Council, and efforts by the Friends of the LA River and others. A web exhibit by SCI-Arc grad Alan Loomis explores non-linear themes of the river's past and possibilities. "In the past fifteen years, a growing constituency of people have imagined a new future for the river. They have argued that the present condition of the Los Angeles River and its tributaries can be reversed, transforming from banal concrete ditches into a network of linear waterfront parks and public urban spaces," writes Loomis.

We like this kind of big thinking--and the idea of the LA River as a new brand of unifying urban space.

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In other river news: Though it seems like a bit of a no-brainer to us, LAist was happy to hear today that the California Supreme Court affirmed that sewage treatment plants are legally obligated to prevent pesticides, heavy metals and other toxic pollutants from entering the LA River. The ruling is the result of seven years of litigation over what the cities of Burbank and Los Angeles can dump into the LA River from their sewage treatment plants. Ew, yes.