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Understanding the Scale of the LA River

Nearly one million people live within one mile of the LA River and over one-third of Californians live within a one-hour drive.1Population based on census tracts that intersect a 1-mile buffer around the LA River and a 1-hour drive distance generated by Esri. Calculated from U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2015–2019 5-Year Estimates, Table B01001, 2021; U.S. Census Bureau, 2016 TIGER/Line Geodatabase (machine-readable data files), 2016.

To better understand costs associated with the LA River Master Plan and the funding needed, it is important to understand the scale of the LA River. The number of people who will directly benefit from the implementation of the LA River Master Plan’s goals for improved quality of life, functioning ecosystems, parks, arts and culture, housing affordability, supportive housing, education, and improved flood risk management, water quality, and water supply is unprecedented in scale by most urban park or infrastructure projects.

The LA River Master Plan proposes a 51-mile connected open space that functions as a multi-benefit resource that will manage flood waters while also improving ecosystems and health and wellbeing. When comparing the scale of the 2,300 acres of the LA River right-of-way to other public parks around the world, the LA River has significant potential to impact the daily lives of Angelenos and the ecosystems of the LA region. The LA River represents one of the most continuous, almost entirely publicly owned opportunities in LA County for public open space. Even Central Park in New York City, which is 843 acres, pales in comparison to the 2,300 acres of the LA River right-of-way.

Large Park Comparisons
The LA River represents a significant opportunity to create 51 miles of connected public open space within and along the 2,300 acre right-of-way. This to-scale comparison shows other significant public parks and open spaces around the world next to the 51-mile LA River.
OLIN, 2019.

The LA River represents one of the most continuous, almost entirely publicly owned opportunities in LA County for public open space

Reimagining such a large land area that functions as a piece of critical infrastructure may seem daunting. However, within the context of large infrastructure projects across the United States and particularly in California and the Los Angeles region, the costs associated with the LA River Master Plan are not overly ambitious within the plan’s 25 year implementation period.

Large Infrastructure Comparisons
While the goals of the LA River Master Plan are ambitious, the scale of the project is manageable, as evidenced in this to-scale comparison of other significant infrastructure projects. Project costs above have been adjusted to reflect 2020 dollar value. Source: OLIN, 2019. 2“Projects & Reports.” LAWA Official Site | Project Fact Sheet. Accessed April 21, 2020. 3Rocheleau, Jake. “Ven Te Chow Hydrosystems Lab.” Tunnel and Reservoir Plan. Accessed April 21, 2020. 4Big Dig.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, April 17, 2020. 5The L.A. Aqueduct at 100.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Accessed April 21, 2020.; “Los Angeles Aqueduct.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, April 1, 2020. 6Franchini, T. Arana J. “The Mega-Blue-Green Network: Madrid River Project.” 47th ISOCARP Congress, 2011. 7California State Water Project At A Glance,” April 2011.
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