Operations and Maintenance and Safety Staff
A key takeaway from the Master Plan engagement process highlighted safety concerns as the most reported reason for not visiting the river.
This was followed closely by poor maintenance along the river, absence of restrooms and activities, not knowing where to access the river, and not knowing enough information about what is at the river channel. Actions and methods across the goals of the Master Plan address these concerns include support facilities at a regular cadence along the length on both sides of the river in addition to safety, outreach, and education/interpretation coordination with municipalities and state conservancies. This requires a designated staff for operations and maintenance and safety, which can be phased in over time to eventually extend along the entire river. Further, river-related projects may need additional staff to supplement specific needs to promote enhanced operation and usability of the varying facilities.
Across the length of the LA River and its adjacent River Pavilions and parks, public safety must receive considerable attention. Attention should be paid to urban design and planning and active operations. New open spaces along and over the LA River must be planned in order to be inviting with clear entrance and exit points that will promote the sense of a safe environment. Planning policies along the LA River should encourage public and private landowners to create a more inviting property front that faces the river. More eyes on the LA River’s public space will foster a safer environment.
Visitors should feel safe throughout their use of the river and have expedient access to public safety resources as necessary. River staff can supplement local and regional law enforcement to promote public safety along the LA River and its tributaries, while increasing environmental stewardship and public involvement. River staff can also serve as a resource to visitors informing them of the river’s amenities, programs, and resources, increasing their comfort along the river. Additionally, emergency call boxes should be consistently sited along the LA River trails to provide a direct call line to 9-1-1 services, supplementing public safety staff at intermediate intervals. However, care should be taken to avoid over-policing and over-surveillance, which may result in residents’ unintentional discomfort, especially within communities with high levels of distrust of law enforcement. As such, it is important to employ public safety best practices, such as community policing and neighborhood partnerships. The LA River and its amenities should feel safe and open to all, and the entire community can contribute to this vision.
The LA River Master Plan recommends the construction and operation of River Pavilions: Shade (Tier I), Rest (Tier II), and Gathering (Tier III), to serve visitors along the LA River trails. To promote their active usage, they must serve as clean and welcoming environments. All pavilions will require maintenance with a janitorial staff that can routinely empty trash cans, clean water fountains, resupply and sanitize restrooms, and pick up after visitors who use community rooms and outdoor spaces. Staff should follow a schedule of service proportioned to each tier of pavilion, in which those with the most amenities, especially restrooms, receive considerable and continuous attention. Success of the entire network of pavilions is tied to the public’s perceived condition of them, and that they do not fall into disrepair. Gathering (Tier III) Pavilions have enhanced sanitation programming, with locker rooms and showers supplementing their restrooms, which compliments other adjacent amenities, such as sports fields and water activities. As such, they require regular staff to distribute toiletries and shower supplies. LA County should explore a pay-per-use model, to help subsidize the cost of extended sanitation programs. Each River Pavilion should stand as a well maintained and friendly retreat along the LA River trails.
In addition to cleanliness, it is critical to staff public safety officials at Gathering (Tier III) Pavilions during their operating hours. These pavilions have public safety stations that should provide continuous security and a recognizable hub for assistance. The stations should provide surveillance within the pavilions and implement best practices of community policing and should not resonate as a punitive presence.
Gathering (Tier III) Pavilions also require pavilion-specific operating staff to supplement activities along the river as they provide robust community facilities and amenities. For example, if they have bike rental and repair stations, they require a staff capable of repairing and distributing the bikes. Additionally, some pavilions may offer low-barrier navigation services for persons experiencing homelessness, requiring their staffing of local homeless services providers. The particular stations could facilitate more extensive first aid assistance, service coordination, and outreach staff. Further, these pavilions require broader oversight and management, such as building operations.
Their on-site administrative offices can also house programming staff to book community events, such as public engagement meetings, local organizations’ gatherings, and family parties. The programming staff can also plan pavilion-specific activities and events. River Pavilion staff can be comprised of river operations and maintenance and safety staff and local employees, but it can be supplemented by the employment of river-adjacent communities’ youth, persons experiencing homelessness, and system-impacted individuals through future internship and job training programs. Pavilions provide an opportunity for job creation for and by the communities the pavilions reside in.
The construction, operations, maintenance, and use of pavilions will depend on partnerships among the county, individual municipalities they are situated within, land owners, and other organizations that may serve the facilities. There is great potential to leverage varying expertise, local presence, and community-specific needs to form strong partnerships aligned to individualized pavilion identities. For example, a pavilion situated alongside of soccer pitches may be supported through the partnership of a local soccer club, whereas one situated in a neighborhood with a large population of persons experiencing homelessness may stand in partnership with a homeless service provider. Pavilions serve as river-wide assets that unify different stakeholders, while sharing the same aspirations of comfort, safety, amenities, and identity.
Similar to River Pavilions, parks along the LA River require regular operations and maintenance to promote clean, safe, and well-programmed public resources. Parks will require regular maintenance to plant and take care of vegetated and lawn areas, inspect and repair outdoor equipment and furniture, preserve trails, and repair light fixtures. Additional custodial responsibilities of emptying waste receptacles, picking up liter, cleaning up picnic and BBQ areas, and monitoring the trails for general cleaning needs must be considered for the operations and maintenance staff. Some parks may require extra staffing to supplement additional demand and operational needs. For example, parks with pools and significant water features will require lifeguards to promote visitor safety and those with sport fields will require staff to ensure that fields are prepared for practices and games. Similar to River Pavilions, LA River parks maintenance staff, can be supplemented by community internship and job-training programs that will increase community investment in these public assets.
Case Studies: Operations & Maintenance and Safety Staff
Metropolitan Improvement District (MID), Seattle, WA
Administration: Funded by Downtown Seattle Association property owners and RatePayers’ tax Managed by MID property owners and RatePayer board
Goals/Services: 1. Cleaning/Maintenance (Est. 2014) 2. Safety (est. 2000) 3. Outreach (est. 2009)
Service Area: ~600 acres
Staff: 120 Employees (Full & Part-time)
Budget: ~5 million/yr (2013/14)
*Cleaning, Safety, Outreach, and Hospitality budget out of overall 7.5 million
Center City District (CCD), Philadelphia, PA
Administration: Funded by CCD Business Improvement District (BID) property owners’ tax Managed by BID Board
Goals/Services: 1. Cleaning/Maintenance 2. Safety
Service Area: ~500 acres
Staff: 125 Employees (Full & Part-time)
Budget: ~$12 million / yr (2022 projection)
*Cleaning and Public Safety budget out of overall $28.5 million
Park Rangers, Dallas, TX
Administration: Funded by municipal taxes, managed by Park & Recreation
Goals/Services: 1. Safety 2. Compliance 3. Education 4. Customer Service/Recreation
Service Area: ~23k park acres / 158 miles of park trails
Staff: 10 Full-time Equivalent
Budget: ~$1 million / yr (2020-21)
* Not including operating costs