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Engagement Summary

The LA River Master Plan Used A Variety of Methods to Engage People Across the County

At every step of the process to update the LA River Master Plan, LA County provided opportunities to inform and engage the public. This two-way communication strategy employed a variety of media and activities across the county to ensure that resident concerns and aspirations across geographic, language, and accessibility spectra were recognized and reflected in the plan.

Visitors to the SELA Arts Festival enjoy the views of the LA River along the channel.
Visitors to the SELA Arts Festival enjoy the views of the LA River at river mile 11.8.
LA County Public Works, 2019.

Engagement Process

Community meetings, Steering Committee meetings, and other events provided opportunities for engagement throughout the planning process.
OLIN, 2021.

Key Public Engagement Takeaways

Across the various methods of engagement, common themes and sentiments emerged. The following are key takeaways from the engagement process.

Most Important Issues

When participants ranked various issues related to the LA River, the following issues rose to the top as most important to them:

  • Protecting vulnerable plants and animals
  • Supplementing water supply
  • Creating healthy, socially connected communities
  • Addressing homelessness
  • Access to arts, culture, education, and recreation
Post-it notes from Friendship Auditorium Community Meeting with thoughts and concerns written by participants.
Participants who attended the community meeting at the Friendship Auditorium engaged in an exercise where their thoughts and concerns were written on post-it notes and discussed.
OLIN, 2018.
Participants at Cudahy Park Community Engagement Meeting.
The Cudahy Park Community Meeting open house encouraged participants to explore the analysis phase of the LA River Master Plan.
OLIN, 2018.
Youth Summit students attending a workshop led by leadership from Indigenous Communities along the LA River.
The Youth Summit included workshops organized by leadership from Indigenous Communities along the LA River.
OLIN, 2018.
Visitors to the SELA Arts Festival talking to exhibitors in the LA River channel.
The SELA Arts Festival invited thousands of people into the river channel for a unique opportunity to experience the river while interacting with local artists, community organizations, and municipal departments.
OLIN, 2019.

Activities along the LA River

Along the river, the most common activities people participate in are walking and biking, with participation 2-3 times as much as the next most common activities, which include nature watching/citizen science, community gatherings/events, and river clean-ups.

What Keeps People from the LA River

Safety concerns were identified by 61% of participants as a reason they do not visit the LA River. The specific types of safety concerns community members elaborated on ranged from encountering persons experiencing homelessness to absence of lighting to lack of a visible presence of people patrolling the river. Other widely shared reasons participants cited for not visiting the LA River include that it is not well maintained, it lacks restrooms and activities, people do not know where to access the river, and people don’t know what is at the river channel.


More than half of participants have seen the LA River channel at least halfway full. Only 6% of participants have ever seen the water overtopping the banks/levees.

Connectivity and Access Priorities

Not surprisingly, as many participants responded that their most common activity along the LA River is walking and biking, they also expressed a desire to connect existing trails and increase access on both sides of the river channel with additional bridges. This corresponds with two-thirds of access points being unsigned and only 70% connected to sidewalks.

Housing Priorities

While participants expressed a desire for more parks as well as greater amenities along the river for recreation, they also wanted to know how the improvements would impact housing affordability, which is a serious and deeply felt concern for all communities in LA County.

Education Priorities

Survey participants felt it was most important for people to learn about how the river benefits and supports the environment (38%); ecology, habitat, and vegetation (33%); and current hydrology and uses of the river (21%).

Participants talking at the South Gate Community Meeting during the open house.
The South Gate Community Meeting, from round two of the engagement process, featured results from round one and follow-up questions during the open house.
OLIN, 2019.
Opening blessing, song, offering, and land acknowledgment at Native Communities discussion
The Native Communities discussion opened with a traditional blessing, song, offering, and land acknowledgment.
OLIN, 2019.
Participants at Glendale Community Engagement Meeting locating preferred access points and flood risks on a map of their community's stretch of the river.
The Glendale Community Meeting asked attendees to locate where they would prefer river access points and to identify existing flood risks near their community's stretch of the LA River.
OLIN, 2019.
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