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Provide equitable, inclusive, and safe parks, open space, and trails.

The availability of parks creates a healthier and more cohesive community.
LA County Public Works, 2018.

Members of the community identified walking and bicycling as the top two activities they participate in along the river—with participation in these two activities together greater than the participation in all other activities combined.

Yet, 61% said they do not use the river due to safety concerns. By aiming to provide 51 miles of safe, connected open space, the LA River can be a valued recreational resource for the surrounding communities in LA County.


Steps that should be taken to achieve the goal

LA River Parks Need
LA River Parks Needs Ruler.
OLIN, 2019.

Needs: Parks and Trails

The LA River Master Plan evaluates park need based on park access and availability, but also by considering an area’s level of exposure to poor environmental conditions where access to open space and recreation can have the greatest impact on multiple needs.

The LA County Department of Parks and Recreation’s Los Angeles Countywide Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment was combined with the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s CalEnviroScreen 4.0 to assess both where park need was highest, and where communities would benefit most from environmental and recreational improvements.
LA County Map
LA County Parks Need.
OLIN, 2021.
In the LA County Department of Parks and Recreation’s Los Angeles Countywide Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment completed in May 2016, park need was evaluated on an acre by acre basis and scored based on a weighted combination of: population density, park pressure (amount of park land available to residents around each park), park access (percent of population living within 1/2 mile of a park), and park acre need (acres of park per 1,000 people). In the assessment, numeric scores were then categorized into five park need categories: very low, low, moderate, high, and very high need. For the LA River Master Plan park need analysis a higher park need assessment resulted in a higher park need.
CalEnviroScreen 4.0, released in 2021, is a science-based mapping tool created by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and the California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that helps identify California communities that are most affected by multiple sources of pollution, and are often especially vulnerable to pollution’s effects. CalEnviroScreen uses environmental, health, and socioeconomic information to produce a numerical score for each census tract in the state. CalEnviroScreen was used in addition to Park Need to further prioritize the potential impact of new parks and open space on existing pollution levels and to provide recreation and health amenities and services to communities most vulnerable to pollution’s harmful health effects. Areas with very high need had a score near 100%, meaning they had the worst environmental conditions in the state of California relative to other census tracts in the state. Areas with general need had a 0% score, meaning they had the best environmental conditions in the state, and areas with no data were categorized as having general need.

Case Studies

South Platte River Greenway

The 10-mile stretch of the South Platte River Greenway that runs through Denver, Colorado, is a part of the larger planning effort for the South Platte River. The planning effort came about following a large period of rainfall in June of 1965. The resulting planning effort has brought about over 100 miles of riverside trails and over 100 acres of riverside parks and natural areas along the South Platte River in Metro Denver.1“River & Trail Info.” The Greenway Foundation. Accessed March 26, 2020.

Lessons Learned

  • Re-imagining a river corridor to include continuous trails and parkland happens incrementally with persistence.
  • Multiple objectives can be met if management is integrated and balanced.
  • Various departments have responsibilities and work together along the corridor to achieve a complete vision.
South Platte River Greenway with people tubing
South Platte River Greenway through downtown Denver.
Simon Foot, Confluence Park - Denver, Colorado, 2011. Source License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Waterloo Greenway, Austin, TX

The Waterloo Greenway is a plan for a 1.5-mile park system that incorporates 35 acres of connected park space along Waller Creek in Austin, Texas. The plan for the greenway is made possible by the construction of an extensive flood mitigation strategy that takes excessive flood waters, previously transported by Waller Creek, through a tunnel to Lady Bird Lake.2“Waller Creek District and Tunnel.” Waller Creek District and Tunnel | Accessed March 28, 2020. The Waterloo Greenway is being constructed in three phases, allowing the community to utilize parts of the park system throughout the construction process.

Lessons Learned

  • The revival of urban waterways was powerful in spawning public and economic interest.
  • A bypass and tunnel solution to flood risk created opportunities along the river that would not exist otherwise.
  • Project phasing allowed for parts of the project to be opened and generate revenue for future sections.
Photo of greenway with pedestrian bridge overlooking the waterway.
Waterloo Greenway through Austin.
William Beutler, Looking South on Waller Creek from Sixth Street, 2010. Source License: CC BY-SA 2.0.
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