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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.
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
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.
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.
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%).