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Planning Context and Process

The 1996 LA River Master Plan and other documents related to planning along the LA River are not the only source of policy and planning that affect the river.

Policy exists at every scale of governance—from national and state policy to municipal and site-level policy. The literature review and existing conditions analysis identified the planning context within which the LA River Master Plan will be completed and provided a foundation for the plan to set strategic directions for the river.

While setting these strategic directions for the LA River, the plan relies on, but does not replicate or supersede, goals set forth in other plans, such as the LA County General Plan, the OurCounty Sustainability Plan, or the Safe, Clean Water Program. All of these plans are interrelated and envision the future of LA County. The goal-driven framework of the LA River Master Plan provides more detail than a system plan, but does not reach the specific design level of action or development plans. Individual project development and implementation will build from this Master Plan.

LA River Master Plan: Planning Context
The goal-driven framework of the LA River Master Plan supports the goals of other plans. It provides more detail than a system plan but does not reach the specific design level of action or development plans.
OLIN, 2018.


The Master Plan was developed over four phases beginning in early 2018 and extending to 2020: Analysis of existing plans and regional context; Proposing changes for the future; Drafting the update; and Final plan update.

To complete the Master Plan, three main groups provided input:

  • Members of the public through the public engagement process.
  • The Steering Committee appointed by the Board of Supervisors made up of 41 organizations in the LA Region with expertise across all the plan’s themes.
  • The technical team led by LA County Public Works that included representatives of various county departments and a consultant team that included Geosyntec, OLIN, Gehry Partners, River LA, engagement and facilitation partners, technical specialists, and experts in housing policies and displacement.
LA River Master Plan: Schedule
The LA River Master Plan began in February 2018 and included three main input groups.
OLIN, 2018.

Existing plans were reviewed through a literature review, and additional research was conducted by the technical team to understand current conditions in the region related to water, environment, and people. The Steering Committee identified a need for a deeper understanding of both housing and homelessness as well as hydrology and hydraulics, prompting a day-long workshop for each and supplementary analysis prepared by experts within these fields along with the technical team. Additionally, through the process, the development of a vision statement and goals grew into the goal-driven planning framework that makes the LA River Master Plan an implementable plan.

Steering Committee Subcommittees were organized around the three plan themes of water, people, and environment, with members self-selecting based on individual expertise and diverse organizational missions. Initially, the water subcommittee focused on flood risk, water quality, and water supply; the people subcommittee focused on public health, housing, recreation, access, and homelessness; and the environment subcommittee focused on open space, habitat, nature, and native ecosystems.

The Subcommittees would meet following each Steering Committee meeting in aa series of three subcommittee meetings (per Steering Committee meeting for a total of 24 additional meetings). These Subcommittee meetings were held at various locations to delve further into the subject deemed critical by the Steering Committee. Additionally, three focused workshops were conducted for the subcommittee members which included housing, hydrology, and a special session to review the draft Master Plan.

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