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What Was The Deal With Those Benches In The LA River?

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People enjoy the wooden benches that briefly appeared on the bank of the L.A. river in Frogtown. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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For a few days this week, a small stretch of the Los Angeles River in northeast Los Angeles was populated with benches where people could sit, chat, sip coffee and chill. But just as quickly as the benches showed up, they disappeared.

The benches popped up on Sunday on a stretch of the concrete waterway in Frogtown. By Wednesday evening, they were gone.

We caught up with the man who built and placed the benches. He spoke to us on the condition that he not be named because he was concerned about facing repercussions for placing the benches without permission.

He lives in Frogtown and builds decks for homes. He says he used an assortment of wood — redwood, red balau, mahogany — left over from various projects to make the benches, which are 5 or 6-feet long. It took him only two days to make four benches.

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The maker told us:

"I built them for this specific location. I just watched people sitting on the concrete slope there and I had a lot of leftovers from my projects. I just put the benches together so people can sit on them while having coffee."

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Jennie and Simon walk the L.A. river a few times a month. They were surprised by the wooden chairs when they saw them but were happy to have a comfortable bench to sit on. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
He had made six more benches that he was preparing to "install" when he got a call from some sort of official — "I can't remember the exact position or agency," he says — telling him he needed to remove the benches. So, on Wednesday, he did.

Angelenos have often interacted with the L.A. River in creative ways, including ad hoc coffee clubs, but maybe the benches were too much of a lawsuit risk for the powers that be.

The builder of the benches says he has given two of them to a local yoga studio and is looking to give away the rest of the benches.

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