Calendar Item: Check out the new Albion Riverside Park on Saturday

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San Fernando Valley chamber of commerce cries foul on $1.1 billion L.A. River revitalization

Troy Davis

Troy Davis

Since late summer, Los Angeles City Councilmember Gilbert Cedillo has asked rallies of river supporters “Who stands against us?” He was speaking, of course, of the city’s bid to get a billion-dollar makeover for 11 miles of the Los Angeles River. That potential makeover has been extensively covered in the media and on this blog. Now it seems some members of the San Fernando business community don’t see the issue  as many local, state and national politicos and environmental advocates do.

In a letter last week posted by the United Chambers of the San Fernando Valley on its website, the group said it seeks to delay the Los Angeles River restoration and to extend the Army Corps’ feasibility study.

Specifically, the group  believes its voice has not been heard by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and asks both the city and the county to request that the corps re-study its plan in light of objections that include:

— water reclamation and taxation

— real estate and eminent domain

— city cost sharing in a time of privation.

You can read the  press release for details.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who grew up in the valley,  spoke to the group at its Ninth Annual Mayor’s luncheon last month. During his 20-minute speech he referenced the Los Angeles River once, and didn’t go into the revitalization push, which has included his recent visit to Washington to discuss the matter with, among others, President Obama. He did, however, emphasize the need to capture rain water by removing concrete.

“The largest natural aquifer reservoir — or manmade, second largest in the state — is called the San Fernando Valley, but it’s pretty dry. We have to clean it up, and we have to figure out a way to unpave our city, to recycle our water,” he said.

According to its website, UCSFV has 21,000 member businesses that provide 387,000 jobs to the area.

The board reads like a who’s who of the wealthy and powerful, and  includes Jacque McMillan of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

In a subsequent Los Angeles Daily News story, the Army Corps, which is the lead federal agency in the revitalization effort, with the city of L.A. as its local partner, replied that the United Chambers and others could submit public comments by Nov. 18.

“To say they weren’t represented wasn’t true,” Army Corps Spokeswoman Kristen Stopeck said. “This isn’t a done deal. The great thing is that they are interested in being part of this discussion — and still have time to weigh in.”

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Quick mends: Garcetti takes Alternative 20 to Washington

Then Councilmember Eric Garcetti opens a part of the bike path along the Los Angeles River in 2011. (Jim Burns)

Then Councilmember Eric Garcetti opens a part of the bike path along the Los Angeles River in 2011. (Jim Burns)

Making good on his pledge to push for a billion-dollar makeover of the Los Angeles River, yesterday Los Angeles Mayor
Eric Garcetti pushed the idea to President Obama, whom he campaigned for in California.

Here’s a report from KPCC, and another from Los Angeles Magazine.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

Public ARBOR comment hearing scheduled for Thursday

Could the Los Angeles River ever resemble water inside Yosemite National Park? Time to cast your vote. (Jim Burns)

Could the Los Angeles River ever resemble water inside Yosemite National Park? Time to cast your vote. (Jim Burns)

All right, so where are we on the eve of the first possible U.S. government default in history? And by “we,” I actually mean the people who would dare to  reimagine the Los Angeles River, which would be, for the city of Los Angeles, a great healing of an old wound.

— As Congress’ inability to agree on compromises that would reopen the partially shut-down government and raise the looming debt ceiling continues, Americans give Congress an 11 percent job approval rating, down eight percentage points from last month and one point above the worst rating in Gallup history. (press release)

–The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District today announced it will close its regulatory offices due to the absence of available federal funding. Regulatory offices will be unable to evaluate individual permit applications, Pre-Construction Notifications for Nationwide Permit or Regional General Permit authorizations, or requests for jurisdictional determinations until after current year funding is received and the offices reopen. (press release)

— Mayor Eric Garcetti, who recently visited Washington to push for Alternative 20, the most expensive of the Army Corps restoration projects at over $1 billion, has an online petition he is urging Angelinos to sign. The city would have to bear around $500 million, as the Corps partner. The rest would be federal money.

— If you want to officially comment on the various river options, you’ve got until Nov. 18.

— You can show up and speak up Thursday at the ARBOR Study public hearing, from 5:30 p.m., at the river center, 570 W. Ave. 26, Los Angeles. Should be a fun time.

— p.s. I was in Mammoth Lakes over the weekend and was anxious to show my wife a great fishing spot my son and I discovered (photo above) over the summer. Lots of gorgeous brookies. The only problem: it’s in Yosemite Park, which is closed because of the partial government shutdown. Does that lead to pessimism on my part? NO, not by a long shot. I want the big bucks for our river, even if we have to wait until the approval rating is at 12 percent.

See you on the river, Jim Burns