Quick Mends: O’Farrell takes river baton from Reyes

Newly elected Council-member Mitch O'Farrell. (Courtesy City Council District 13)

Newly elected Council-member Mitch O’Farrell. (Courtesy City Council District 13)

Even though termed-out river champion Ed Reyes’s district went to Gilbert Cedillo, the new self-proclaimed keeper of the flame is newly elected Council-member Mitch O’Farrell.  And front-and-center is the most important decision to impact the Los Angeles River since it was channelized last century.

“We have some alternatives that are being entertained right now by the Army Corps [of Engineers] and the Feds,” O’Farrell recently told The Los Angeles Downtown News, referencing Alternative 20, which is the most extensive and expensive of the revitalization plans. “We all support that, but it has a $1 billion price tag. There are some [alternatives] that are a lot less than that.”

Meanwhile, the Corps can’t officially comment on the details until the report containing the four alternatives (not three, as was widely reported in the Los Angeles Times last week) is released in early September, according to a spokesman. But sources close to the process say that Washington balked at the Alternative 20, billion-dollar price tag and will push for the cheapest of the alternatives. When released, the report will also identify the Corps tentatively selected plan (TSP).

“The TSP is ‘tentative’ and not a final agency decision,” said the new Los Angeles District Commander Col. Kim Colloton. “We will ask for public and agency comments on all alternatives, and consider all comments before we make a final decision. Transparency and community involvement are vitally important.”

In a press release, Colloton said the Corps, City of Los Angeles and stakeholders have jointly developed the alternatives, and the purpose of the collaborative effort has been to find ways to improve the L.A. River ecosystem in a constrained funding environment.

“Hundreds of ideas were explored, and the best of these were combined to come up with the final array of alternatives in the draft report,” she said.  “The ultimate goal is to maximize ecosystem benefits relative to costs.”

Once released,  the action will trigger a 45-day public comment period that will help inform a final report, which will include a recommendation to Congress.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

@Jimgoesfishing

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