BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES AND WATER
                             Senator Fran Pavley, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:            AB 530          Hearing Date:    July 14,  
          2015
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          |Author:    |Rendon                 |           |                 |
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          |Version:   |June 1, 2015    Amended                              |
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          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
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          |Consultant:|Katharine Moore                                      |
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                  Subject:  Lower Los Angeles River Working Group.

          BACKGROUND AND EXISTING LAW
          The Los Angeles River (River) forms from its headwaters in the  
          western San Fernando Valley and flows easterly across the Valley  
          through Griffith Park where the river turns to the south, and  
          passes through downtown Los Angeles and additional downstream  
          cities en route to its estuary in Long Beach.  The River is  
          entirely with the County of Los Angeles (County).

          The approximately 32 miles of the River upstream of the City of  
          Vernon is considered to be the upper River and is within the  
          bounds of the City of Los Angeles.  The approximately 19 miles  
          of the lower River includes the cities of Vernon, Commerce,  
          Maywood, Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, South Gate, Lynwood,  
          Compton, Paramount, Carson and Long Beach.

          The areas surrounding the River are widely considered to have  
          relatively few open space and park areas. Particularly along the  
          lower River, industrial activity and railyards immediately  
          adjacent to the River serve to isolate the River from the  
          surrounding communities.

          As urbanization of the Los Angeles basin increased over the  
          years, River flooding caused increasing impacts.  The  
          devastating flooding in 1914 led to the passage of the Los  
          Angeles Flood Control District Act (c. 755, Statutes of 1915).   
          Following serious flooding, the US Congress in 1936 directed the  
          US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to "channelize" the river  







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          (with concrete) to help control flooding. The Flood Control  
          District and the Corps share the responsibility for the  
          operation and management of these flood control and water  
          conservation facilities.

          The San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains  
          Conservancy (RMC) was created by the Legislature in 1999 (SB  
          216, Solis, c. 89 and AB 1355, Havice, c. 90, Statutes of  
          1999)(Public Resources Code (PRC) §§32600 et seq.).  The RMC's  
          mission is, among other things, to preserve open space and  
          habitat in order to provide for low-impact recreation and  
          educational uses, wildlife habitat restoration and protection,  
          and watershed improvements within its jurisdiction.  It is one  
          of ten conservancies located in the Natural Resources Agency  
          (agency).  The RMC's territory includes the lower Los Angeles  
          River.

          In the early 1990s, community activism over turning a railyard  
          adjacent to the River into open space coincided with the County  
          beginning a process that - after considerable input from  
          stakeholders and community outreach - resulted in the County's  
          Los Angeles River Master Plan (Master Plan) in 1996.  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.  Ultimately over several decades, the River  
          will be returned to a less-polluted, functioning riparian  
          environment in as many reaches as possible, while still  
          controlling flooding and providing recreational opportunities.

          The City of Los Angeles' Los Angeles River Revitalization Master  
          Plan (Revitalization Master Plan) was released in 2007.   
          Continuing the long-term goals of the County Master Plan, the  
          Revitalization 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 ecosystem.   
          The City's Revitalization Master Plan focused on the upper  
          River.

          Both plans contain a list of River projects to be completed and  
          seek to re-focus the surrounding neighborhoods on the River to  
          help form a sense of identity, improve the quality of life and  
          boost civic pride.  Since the Master Plan and Revitalization  








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          Master Plan were developed, numerous River restoration efforts  
          including the creation of habitat, pocket parks and bikeways  
          have been undertaken, as well as guidelines established for  
          signage and other features.  In 2014 the Corps recommended the  
          most extensive restoration alternative provided by its Los  
          Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Report be  
          undertaken at an estimated cost of $1.08 billion.  The area to  
          be restored focuses on the 11 mile soft-bottomed stretch of the  
          River from roughly Griffith Park to downtown called the ARBOR  
          reach. 

          Existing law designates the River as a traditional navigable  
          waterway protected under the Clean Water Act.  In recent years,  
          stretches of the River have been opened annually for kayaking  
          and other recreational activities.  These activities on the  
          River itself have received considerable media coverage and have  
          been publicly popular.

          In 2014, California voters approved the Water Quality, Supply,  
          and infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1) which  
          includes $60 million for the River split equally between the  
          Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the RMC.  These funds are  
          for the purpose of multi-benefit water quality, water supply,  
          watershed protection and restoration projects for the  
          watersheds.  In addition, River projects are eligible for  
          certain other Proposition 1-funded purposes, such as the $100  
          million for urban rivers and streams.

          PROPOSED LAW
          This bill would require the creation of a local working group to  
          develop a revitalization plan for the lower River by March 1,  
          2017.  Specifically this bill would:

          1)Direct the Secretary of the agency, in coordination with the  
            Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, to appoint a local  
            working group, the Lower Los Angeles River Working Group  
            (working group), to develop a revitalization plan for the  
            lower Los Angeles River by March 1, 2017.

          2)Require the working group to include at least representatives  
            from
             a)   the RMC,
             b)   the County of Los Angeles,
             c)   the Gateway Cities Council of Governments,








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             d)   the Los Angeles Gateway Region Integrated Regional Water  
               Management Joint Powers Authority,
             e)   elected officials from cities riparian to the River, and
             f)   non-profit organizations serving the region.

          3)Specify that the working group use watershed-based planning  
            methods to develop the revitalization plan.

          4)Specify that the plan shall include watershed education  
            programs that help lower River communities recognize the value  
            of the river, as specified, recognize the unique and diverse  
            needs of the these same communities and be consistent with,  
            enhance and be incorporated into the county's master plan.

          5)Direct the RMC to provide necessary staffing to the working  
            group for plan development.

          6)Provide the development and implementation of the plan will be  
            eligible for any public or private source of funding,  
            including, but not limited to, from Proposition 1, and  
            specifies eligible plan implementing entities.

          7)Declare the need for this special law, and

          8)Make a series of supporting legislative findings.

          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT
          According to the author, "[t]he County of Los Angeles adopted a  
          Master Plan for the entire Los Angeles River in 1996. Since  
          then, the City of Los Angeles has done substantial work on  
          developing a "revitalization plan" for the upper Los Angeles  
          River, within the City's boundaries.  After almost two decades,  
          the time has come to update the Master Plan, focusing more  
          attention and resources on the lower Los Angeles River."

          This bill requires the appointment of "a local working group to  
          develop a "revitalization plan" for the lower Los Angeles River,  
          just as the upper Los Angeles River has its plan.  This  
          revitalization plan would be consistent with and designed to  
          enhance the County's Master Plan for the entire river."

          "AB 530 starts a conversation about how to improve the lower Los  
          Angeles River in concert with the revitalization of the upper  
          Los Angeles River, so that the entire Los Angeles River  








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          watershed could be managed collaboratively."

          ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION
          None received

          COMMENTS
           Working group membership.   There is overlap/potential overlap  
          between organizations represented on the working group and on  
          the RMC's board.  These include the County of Los Angeles, the  
          Gateway Cities Council of Governments, elected officials from  
          riparian cities, and the non-profit organization.  Membership of  
          the working group is not limited in number and there is evidence  
          of significant community interest in River revitalization  
          efforts (e.g. dozens of non-profit organizations listed as  
          participating in various revitalization planning efforts).

           Recent related legislation
           SB 355 (Lara, 2015).  This bill would revise the board  
          membership of the RMC. (currently on the Assembly floor)

          AB 1205 (Gomez). This bill would establish the California River  
          Revitalization and Greenway Development Act which would develop  
          a grant program to distribute auction revenues and Proposition 1  
          moneys, among others, to the benefit of rivers, as specified.  
          (currently before the Senate Natural Resources and Water  
          Committee)

          AB 1251 (Gomez, 2015). This bill would establish the Greenway  
          Development and Sustainment Act which, among other things,  
          provides for greenway easements. (before the Senate  
          Appropriations Committee)

          AB 1922 (Gomez, 2014). This bill is an earlier version of AB  
          1251 (Gomez, 2015) (held in the Senate Appropriations Committee)

          AB 735 (Gomez, 2013). This bill would have established the  
          Greenway Initiative to promote the establishment of greenways  
          along rivers statewide (held in the Assembly Appropriations  
          Committee)

          SB 1201 (de León, c. 212, Statutes of 2012). This bill provides  
          for public use of the River by adding education and recreational  
          purposes to the Los Angeles county Flood Control Act where those  
          uses are not inconsistent with flood control and water  








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          conservation.


          SUPPORT
          Anahuak Youth Sports Association
          Arroyo Seco Foundation
          Audobon California
          California League of Conservation Voters
          California Watershed Network
          City of Bell
          Council for Watershed Health
          City of Cudahy
          East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice
          Friends of the Los Angeles River
          From Lot to Spot
          Health the Bay
          City of Lakewood
          Los Angeles Community Garden Council
          Los Angeles Conservation Corps
          Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
          Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
          Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust
          Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation
          City of Maywood
          Mujeres de la Tierra
          Pacoima Beautiful
          City of Paramount
          the Public Counsel
          the River Project
          Linda T. Sanchez, Representative, U.S. Congress
          the Trust for Public Land
          T.R.U.S.T. South LA
          Urban Semillas
          the Watershed Conservation Authority

          OPPOSITION
          None Received

          
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