Economic Development Framework

The revitalization of the LA River is an opportunity to achieve a number of objectives. There is a sense among a diversity of stakeholders that the moment of the LA River has come. We have the opportunity to harness widespread excitement of a diverse array of stakeholders, contribute to LA Metro’s necessary water management strategy, and drive significant net economic benefits to the region as a whole, but especially to the communities most impacted by the LA River.

To do that, we need to develop a Capital and Operations & Maintenance approach that:

  • Defines the estimated total required capital to bring this shared vision to life;
  • Develops a blended funding approach that meets the estimated capital need;
  • And identifies the potential sources of public, private, and value capture, and earned income funds along with the opportunities and limitations of each.

To date, there is at least $500M of potential investment for the LA River in the form of the US Army Corps of Engineers’ “Alternative 20” project. In addition there are potential funds in the form of State Bills and County Measures, the most notable of which include:

Current and Potential Local Sources

  • $500,000 – City of Long Beach ($250,000 in March 2016 and $250,000 in Fall 2016)
  • $250 Million – Metro Measure R2 (November 2016)
  • $1.67 billion per City within LA County through CRA via property tax revenue – Enhanced Infrastructure Finance District (2018?)
  • $50 million annually – Park Bond at $23 parcel tax (November 2016)
  • $290 million annually – Storm Water Bond (2018?)

Potential State Sources

  • $100 million (20% to design) – Prop O: State Water Bond (Summer 2016)
  • $2.4 billion (as seen in 2002 through Prop 40) – State Park Bond (November 2018)
  • $230-$350 Million – General Fund appropriation for river bike path completion (Fall 2016)
  • $1.7 Billion – Greenhouse Gas Reduction Bill (Summer 2016)

As a jumping off point, this study includes a Literature Review whose goal is to provide a better understanding of the potential benefits of a reimagined LA River under specific evaluation criteria. This review has assessed the literature pertaining to revitalization projects and other related topics in an effort to establish a concrete understanding of the potential benefits from the rejuvenation of the river. It shows that pursuit of a reimagined LA River is in line with the forward-looking policies suited for sustainable development in the years to come. In this review, we find that some of the points from the literature on economic benefits that are related to the potential revitalization of the LA River include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Flood Control
  • Water Quality
  • Water Recharge
  • Ecosystems Services & Habitat
  • Parks, Open Space, & Land Use
  • Stakeholders
  • Public Health
  • Transporation
  • Arts & Culture

Full Report – Click here!


As early as 2014, with assistance from HR&A Advisors, we had explored through the lenses of community and economic development what it would take to enable the LA River to realize its full potential. We held a series of briefings with both the private and public sectors which included nearly 100 representatives from a variety of organizations and entities, including:

  • Friends of the Los Angeles River
  • Trust for Public Land
  • Council for Watershed Health
  • LA County Bike Coalition
  • Pacoima Beautiful
  • Urban Semillas/Dake Luna
  • Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
  • LA County Watershed
  • Metro
  • LA City Bureau of Sanitation
  • City Engineer or the City of LA
  • LA City Department of Recreation and Parks
  • City of Los Angeles, Office of Council Member Mitch O’Farrell
  • City of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works Commission
  • City of Los Angeles, Office of the Mayor

Full Report – Click here!