BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó

                                                                     AB 530

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          Date of Hearing:   April 28, 2015


                                 Marc Levine, Chair

          AB 530  
          (Rendon) - As Introduced February 23, 2015

          SUBJECT:  Lower Los Angeles River Working Group

          SUMMARY:  Requires the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers  
          and Mountains Conservancy (RMC) to staff, and the Secretary of  
          the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) to appoint, a  
          working group that is tasked with developing a revitalization  
          plan for the lower Los Angeles River (Lower LA River).    
          Specifically, this bill:  

          1)Makes findings including, but not limited to, the history and  
            importance of the LA River and the need to create a plan for  
            the Lower LA River that updates the LA County 1996 LA River  
            Revitalization Master Plan. 

          2)Adds a chapter to the RMC Act creating the Lower Los Angeles  
            River Working Group (Working Group) and specifying that the  
            Working Group shall develop a revitalization plan by March 1,  
            2017 for the Lower LA River.

          3)Requires the CNRA Secretary, in coordination with the Los  
            Angeles County Board of Supervisors, to appoint members to the  
            Working Group including, but not limited to, representatives  


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            from the RMC, LA County, the Gateway Cities Council of  
            Governments, the LA Gateway Region Integrated Regional Water  
            Management Plan Joint Powers Authority, elected officials from  
            cities that border the Lower LA River, and non-profit  
            organizations serving the LA region.

          4)Allows that revitalization plan development and implementation  
            may be funded from any public or private source including the  
            $100 million in funding from the Water Quality, Supply, and  
            Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1 or Prop.  

          EXISTING LAW:  

          1)Designates the LA River as a as a traditional navigable  
            waterway protected under the federal Clean Water Act. 

          2)Establishes the RMC in the CNRA, as a state agency with the  
            following purposes:

             a)   To acquire and manage public lands within the Lower LA  
               River and San Gabriel River watersheds, and to provide  
               open-space, low-impact recreational and educational uses,  
               water conservation, watershed improvement, wildlife and  
               habitat restoration and protection, and watershed  
               improvement within the territory.

             b)   To preserve the San Gabriel River and the Lower LA River  
               consistent with existing and adopted river and flood  
               control projects for the protection of life and property.

             c)   To acquire open-space lands within the territory of the  


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             d)   To provide for the public's enjoyment and enhancement of  
               recreational and educational experiences on public lands in  
               the San Gabriel Watershed and Lower LA River, and the San  
               Gabriel Mountains in a manner consistent with the  
               protection of lands and resources in those watersheds.

          3)Provides $30 million dollars in Prop. 1 for the RMC and  
            another $100 million in Prop. 1 for urban rivers and streams  
            including, but not limited to, the LA River and its  
            tributaries as defined in the RMC Act and the Santa Monica  
            Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) Act, which covers the upper LA  

          4)Creates the LA County Flood Control District (LACFCD) and  
            empowers it to provide for: 

             a)   Control and conservation of the flood, storm and other  
               waste waters of the district, to conserve those waters for  
               beneficial and useful purposes; 

             b)   Protection of the harbors, waterways, public highways  
               and property in the district from flood water or storm  
               water damage; and, 

             c)   Access to navigable waterways under LACFCD's control,  
               including the LA River, where such access is suitable for  
               education and recreational purposes and not inconsistent  
               with flood control and water conservation uses.

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown


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          COMMENTS:  This bill would create a planning process for the  
          lower LA River, the 19 miles of river that once it leaves  
          downtown Los Angeles flows through multiple cities until it  
          reaches the Pacific Ocean at Long Beach Harbor.  The LA River is  
          51 miles long.  Currently, the upper 32-mile stretch, which  
          reaches from the San Fernando Valley to downtown Los Angeles and  
          lies within the City of Los Angeles, has its own Los Angeles  
          River Revitalization Master Plan (City Master Plan) released in  
          2007.  The lower LA River does not have such a plan.

          1)Author's statement:  The author states that there is not a  
            revitalization plan specific to the Lower LA River and,  
            although the 1996 County Master Plan included a few projects  
            for cities along the Lower LA River. The author states that  
            there is now a need for a comprehensive revitalization plan  
            that focuses more attention and resources on the Southeast LA  
            County cities which include Vernon, Commerce, Maywood, Bell,  
            Bell Gardens, Cudahy, South Gate, Lynwood, Compton, Paramount,  
            Carson and Long Beach.   

          2)Background:  In the late 1700s when the Spanish founded the  
            pueblo that became Los Angeles, the LA River supported diverse  
            flora and fauna and much of what is now southern and western  
            Los Angeles was marsh.  The Spanish followed the example of  
            the Native Americans and settled near the river to use its  
            flow to supply drinking and irrigation water.  As Los Angeles  
            grew and prospered, settlements and farming continued to  
            encroach upon the river's floodplain, while also depending  
            upon it for water.  As time progressed, booming development  
            along the river as well as increasing urbanization provided  
            for larger and larger impacts from river flooding.  Between  
            1850 and 1900, there were 11 major flood events along the  
            river.  The devastating flooding in 1914 led to the passage of  
            the LAFCD Act the next year (c. 755, Statutes of 1915).  More  
            serious flooding in the 1930s forced the LAFCD to ask for  


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            federal help.  In 1936, Congress directed the US Army Corps of  
            Engineers (Army Corps) to "channelize" the river to help  
            control flooding.  Channelization by concrete started in 1938  
            and was completed in 1960.  The river is now straighter and  
            deeper in many locations which moves high volumes of flood  
            water rapidly downstream to San Pedro Harbor.  The Flood  
            Control District and the Corps share the responsibility for  
            the operation and management of these flood control and water  
            conservation facilities.

            Today the river begins in Canoga Park at the confluence of  
            Bell Creek and the Arroyo Calabasas.  It flows mostly east  
            through the San Fernando Valley, where numerous tributaries  
            join, to Burbank and Griffith Park.  The river flows through  
            13 cities in total and is contained within the County of Los  
            Angeles.  It is now almost entirely lined in concrete,  
            although there are 3 "soft-bottomed" sections in the Sepulveda  
            Basin (San Fernando Valley), Griffith Park and in Long Beach.   
            Particularly along the Lower LA River, industrial activity and  
            railyards are immediately adjacent to the river and can  
            effectively isolate it from the surrounding communities.

            Although planners had envisioned greenbelts interconnecting  
            parklands along the river as early as the 1930s, the more  
            recent interest in the revitalization and promotion of the  
            re-integration of the river and its tributaries into the  
            adjacent neighborhoods began in the mid-to-late 1980s.  There  
            was growing recognition that compared to other large American  
            cities Los Angeles has relatively fewer parks, particularly in  
            under-represented communities.  In the early 1990s, community  
            activism over turning a railyard adjacent to the river - the  
            Taylor Yards - into open space coincided with the County of  
            Los Angeles beginning a process that - after considerable  
            input from stakeholders and community outreach - resulted in  
            the County's Los Angeles River Master Plan (County Master  
            Plan) in 1996.  


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            The Master Plan described how economic growth could be spurred  
            along the river in the county through zoning changes and the  
            development of open space, recreational, cultural, artistic,  
            educational, and other opportunities.  This river  
            revitalization aimed to "achieve a better river environment  
            for future generations in the Los Angeles basin." The Los  
            Angeles City Council established its own ad hoc committee on  
            the river in 2002 and the City's Master Plan was released in  
            2007.  Continuing the long-term goals of the County Master  
            Plan, the City Master Plan also promoted the revitalization of  
            the river as a multi-benefit solution to addressing and  
            enhancing water quality and flood control while enabling safe  
            access to the river and restoring a functional river  

            In 2010, the United States Environmental Protection Agency  
            announced that its designation of the LA River as a  
            "traditional navigable waterway," protected under the Clean  
            Water Act, would ensure the vitality of the river. The LA  
            River was also identified in 2010 as a priority by the Obama  
            administration under the America's Great Outdoors initiative  
            and is now one of seven pilot cities for the Urban Waters  
            Federal Partnership. Then, in May 2014, the Army Corps backed  
            the $1 billion alternative in the Los Angeles River Ecosystem  
            Restoration Study, a plan to restore an 11-mile stretch of the  
            LA River from Griffith Park to downtown Los Angeles.

          3)Prior and related legislation:  

          AB 1251 (Gomez) would enact the Greenway Development and  
            Sustainability Act in order to promote a greenway along the LA  
            River that focuses on public-private partnerships aimed at  
            establishing a continuous pedestrian bikeway along the LA  
            River and its tributaries in order to foster job creation,  


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            economic development, and community revitalization.  

          AB 1471 (Rendon), Chapter 188, Statutes of 2014 placed  
            Proposition 1 on the November 2014 ballot.  Prop. 1 was a  
            successful $7.545 billion dollar general obligation bond for  
            water-related projects and programs.  Prop. 1 includes, among  
            other provisions, $30 million each for the SMMC and the RMC as  
            well as $100 million for urban creeks and streams.  

          SB 1201 (De León), Chapter 212, Statutes of 2012 provided for  
            public use of the LA River by adding education and  
            recreational purposes to the LA County Flood Control Act where  
            those uses were not inconsistent with flood control and water  
          4)Supporting arguments:  Supporters state that this bill starts  
            a conversation about how the entire LA River can be managed  
            collaboratively because work on the Lower LA River has lagged  
            behind the upper parts of the river.  Supporters state that  
            there is now a need for a comprehensive revitalization plan  
            that focuses more attention and resources on the Southeast Los  
            Angeles County cities.



          City of Bell

          City of Cudahy

          City of Lakewood


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          City of Paramount

          Council for Watershed Health

          LA River Revitalization Corporation

          Public Counsel

          Urban Semillas

          Watershed Conservation Authority


          None on file

          Analysis Prepared by:Tina Cannon Leahy / W., P., & W. / (916)  


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