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The City Wants You To Weigh In On The New Silver Lake Reservoir Master Plan

The plan includes stepped seating with coastal scrub gardens along a "promenade" at West Silver Lake Boulevard.
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The Silver Lake Reservoir, home to the popular walking path, recently upgraded "meadow," and two dog parks known more for people-watching than anything else, is one step closer to getting a full makeover.

On Friday, L.A.'s Engineering Bureau released the master plan for the park virtually, with the caveat that if there wasn't a pandemic, they would have held a large public event to unveil it.

It's been a long journey for the no-longer-a-functioning-reservoir reservoir. For years, the "lake" was managed by the LADWP and surrounded by a chain-link fence. Pedestrians would walk and jog in close proximity to oncoming traffic. First the walking path was revamped and then in 2011, a 2.5 acre green space was added in the form of the meadow, modeled after the Sheep Meadow in Central Park.

Even back then, some residents worried the meadow would become a derelict wasteland full of coyotes and homeless encampments that would lower home values (that didn't happen).

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Debate continued in 2015, when the body of water was drained to make room for a new pipeline. Two years before that, it was disconnected from the drinking water system to eliminate algae contamination. Now it remains for its good looks, green space and neighborhood charm.

After two years of community input (and arguing, in which ideas for a floating swimming pool and a boathouse a la Echo Park were nixed), the final master plan has finally been released.

Silver Lake Reservoir Complex Master Plan Aerial View

The plan is designed to "blend urban wilderness with human uses," the overview says, introducing natural elements to the man-made lake, like freshwater wetlands, real fish, and a "woodland habitat," an ecology that the planners say was originally "erased to meet the needs of a growing Los Angeles" when the reservoir was first paved.

Community workshops will continue for the next year and even then, funding and the actual construction process could take a lot longer. But for now, the city is asking residents to weigh in on their priorities, i.e. which area would you want re-done first? The online questionnaire will close on Sept. 4, 2020.

It's worth noting that Los Angeles, as my colleague Leo Duran reported earlier this summer, has:

"Routinely been on the bottom in rankings that track municipalities' percentage of land devoted to green spaces.

And the parts of L.A. most in need of parks are concentrated in neighborhoods that are primarily home to people of color, like South L.A. and Van Nuys."

One Way to Address LA's Racial Inequality? Build More Parks in Communities of Color

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Note: All photos and descriptions are courtesy of the Silver Lake Reservoir Complex Master Plan.


The Master Plan proposes to add hills to the meadow "to enhance the unique views of the reservoirs and vary the experiences for people to interact with the water's edge."


"Right inside the park at Silver Lake Boulevard, a gently sloping lawn with shade trees opens up views to Silver Lake Reservoir and brings visitors down to the water's edge. Sheltered between The Knoll and a grove of trees, silver lake lawn is a perfect place for relaxing, finding peace, and enjoying nature."

"An informal play walk featuring berms to climb and hang out on meanders between the Picnic Grove and Ornamental Gardens planted with a mix of natives and species adapted to southern California's climate. The Ornamental Gardens feature plants for pollinators including migratory butterflies."

"An small entry plaza near the intersection of Silver Lake Boulevard and Earl Street doubles as an overlook onto the Great Lawn and wetland terraces and islands. This shaded area of prospect offers a place for quiet reflection or meeting neighbors for a walk through the park's miles of paths and trails."

"The end of the sloped lawn gives way to a series of seating platforms perched above wetland terraces and islands. Small footpaths into the wetlands provide moments of immersion to learn about wetland plant communities, amphibians, and the other small aquatic wildlife they support."


Over eight acres of what the developers call "woodland," this area is a continuation of the meadow parallel to Armstrong Avenue.

The Master Plan proposes adding more native plants to the area as welll as a seating area with a view of the reservoir. It also proposes buildling an education center on a floating dock (!!), which could be used for kayak or canoe tours by ecologists.

"At the top of the Knoll, a small promontory under a shade pavilion creates a moment to pause and enjoy expansive views of the reservoir and park through a restored southern California native woodland and across the sloped lawn to habitat islands. Here, the interwoven ecological and cultural systems of the park are understood. The pavilion will double as an outdoor classroom associated with the Education Center which includes a small roof terrace observation platform."


On the corner of West Silver Lake Dr., the smaller Ivanhoe Reservoir will be upgraded with an observation deck over "wetland terraces that step down to the water."

Two wetland islands will also be built to float in the water, ideally attracting birds and other wildlife.

"A small boardwalk brings research and academic collaborators and students through and into wetland terraces where plant community and aquatic species establishment as well as water quality can be monitored and studied."

"A wood decked platform at the northwest edge of Ivanhoe features a shade pavilion and integrated seating which functions as gathering space and outdoor classroom. Interpretative signs will provide information about wildlife and updates on research and monitoring activities, keeping the community connected to the park's ecosystem function and management."


This is an area that's never been accessible to the public, inside the fence that runs parallel to West Silver Lake Drive.

The plan proposes more native plants, a large overlook, and more floating islands.

"The Promenade narrows where the it crosses into the Eucalyptus Grove to minimize its footprint. The walkway is edged with habit fences to protect wildlife and the restored native woodland plant community. It connects to an overlook beyond."


This is the appropriately titled narrow area that runs along the south side of the reservoir. The plan includes a promenade and seating "terraces."

"At the overlook, both wetland terraces and islands can be observed providing a superb location to learn about their habitat value and water quality function as well as the migratory waterfowl they support. This overlook is also equipped with free telescopes for bird watching and classes."

The plan includes stepped seating with coastal scrub gardens along a "promenade" at West Silver Lake Boulevard.
"Stepped seating with coastal scrub gardens along the Promenade at West Silver Lake Boulevard offer sweeping views across the reservoir to the Knoll and Meadow."

"An overlook bridge projects visitors out over the reservoir, offering views north across the water to the San Gabriel Mountains. With integrated seat walls and equipped with free telescopes, the overlook offers a great location for bird watching classes as well as observing seasonal migratory patterns."


The recreation center will also get an upgrade with a new dog park (that actually includes GRASS and not-old-plastic benches for sitting).

"The existing dog parks for large and small dogs are expanded and receive a major upgrade which includes durable artificial turf with play hills as well as new seating and shade trees and structures."

"This bird's-eye view shows the new Multi-Purpose Facility which anchors the southeast corner of the Recreation Center and reconfigured recreation field and basketball court."

The south valley detailed plan