Urban Ecosystem


We all have access to parks and open space including a revitalized L.A. River watershed.

Research shows access to nature keeps people mentally and physically healthy. L.A.’s “wild places” and parks improve all residents’ quality-of-life and increase the economic, physical and social well-being of our communities. Efforts to revitalize urban ecosystems, including the Los Angeles River, go hand-in-hand with prioritizing public access to outdoor spaces—which requires balance in developing the richness of those spaces in terms of services, amenities, biodiversity and urban agriculture.

Progress on 2017 Outcomes

Achieve 56% of Angelenos living within a half mile of a park or open space

55% of Angelenos currently live within a half mile of a park or open space.

Develop city biodiversity strategy

Experts and community groups are assessing L.A.’s biodiversity to identify key strategies for enhancement. The City is working with stakeholders on initial focus areas, including urban tree canopy, watershed protection and wildlife habitat.

Pass legislation allowing for and encouraging urban agriculture in open space (e.g., medians, vacant lots, etc.)

New ordinance passed in 2016 allows urban agriculture in parkways and establishes the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone.

Develop strategy for funding Park Stewardship Alliance with nonpro ts and other partners

Revision of the City’s Quimby ordinance in September 2016, together with new County-wide parks funding measure passed in November 2016, increases much-needed public funding for parks and park improvements to an estimated $20-25 million annually.

Initiate tree and tree-canopy registry to document L.A.’s urban forest to guide tree- planting investments

The Bureau of Engineering hired a consultant to assemble a street tree inventory. Due in late 2017, the inventory will leverage various image sources to pinpoint the location of the City’s entire street-tree population. Additional information about each tree will be provided by Bureau of Street Services historic records and updated as tree inspections are performed for sidewalk repair. The Mayoral Water Cabinet established a tree sub-committee to coordinate management of the urban tree canopy.



Progress on 2025 Outcomes

Complete 32 miles of L.A. River public access within the City by 2025

All 32 miles of riverbank within the City are in planning, design, construction or operational phase. 20.2 miles are open. Bike path funding for the entire 51-mile riverbank approved under Measure M, passed in November 2016.

Feature Story

A Watershed Moment for L.A. River

Ten years in development, the Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Plan got the green light from the L.A. City Council and the U.S. Congress in 2016. The approved plan, called Alternative 20, envisions an 11-mile stretch of river, from Griffith Park to downtown, replete with terraced banks, native vegetation, open spaces and increased opportunities for public recreation. Wildlife restoration recommendations include creation and reestablishment of historic riparian strand and freshwater marsh habitats, reconnecting the river to its historic flood plain, restoring confluences with major tributaries and, for the first time since channelization, removing concrete. Prepared in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, L.A. County and stakeholders, the plan calls for the City to acquire and repurpose key parcels along the river. In January 2017, the City Council unanimously approved the nearly $60 million purchase of the G2 parcel – commonly referred to as the River’s “crown jewel.” The 42-acre parcel, on the River’s east bank north of Downtown, will open up more than one mile of direct riverfront access and will provide much-needed open space and habitat restoration. Engineering and design activities are slated to begin later this year.


“The river is the heart and soul of Los Angeles.”

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell

51-mile LA River Bike Path On its Way

The Passage of Measure M means a bike path will run the full 51-mile length of the L.A. River, including 12 miles connecting Canoga Park to Glendale and 8 miles connecting the Elysian Valley to Maywood through downtown. Angelenos are expected to bike 97,335 miles per year along the river — the equivalent of nearly four trips around the entire globe.


City Wins

Fee Increase Spurs Investment in Parks

The new Parks Dedication and Fee Update ordinance modernized, streamlined and improved the City’s Quimby Fee program to better support critical expansion of the City’s public parks and open spaces. The new ordinance, in combination with Measure A funding, provides $20-25 million a year for parks starting in 2019 and creates incentives for developers to build on-site parks for residents.

Schools Become Parks in Creative Time-sharing Arrangement

The L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) worked with L.A. Unified School District in February 2017 to establish three new community school parks at Cahuenga Elementary School, Harvard Elementary School and 75th Street Elementary School. On weekends, holidays and during summer vacation, these schools will provide public access to their playgrounds, play yards and fields. The clever time-sharing arrangement increases walkable park access to these otherwise park-deficient neighborhoods.

Augmented-reality App Turns Kids into “Agents of Water”

Water conservation got a boost with the 2016 launch of “Agents of Water,” a mobile gaming app that uses move-to-play and augmented-reality technology to spread best practices among younger Angelenos. The first of its kind in the U.S., the app was developed by the Discovery Agents in partnership with RAP. It features gameplay elements similar to last year’s blockbuster Pokémon Go.


Partner Wins

A Vote for Parks

A coalition of cities and community groups worked with L.A. County to pass Measure A in November, providing much-needed investment in green spaces. County beaches, parks and recreational areas will get $94.5 million annually for safety repairs and upgrades. Last year’s “Park Needs Assessment” noted glaring access disparities, leading to a strategy to prioritize Measure A funds for low-income communities.

Grassroots Group Sows Seeds for a Greener Pacoima

Pacoima is one of California’s most park-poor, environmentally impacted areas. That’s changing thanks to the Pacoima Urban Greening Plan. Funded by the California Strategic Growth Council, the plan identifies investment opportunities for open spaces and mobility infrastructure. Grassroots environmental justice group Pacoima Beautiful teamed with urban planning, landscape architecture and environmental science professionals to draft the document.

People for Parks

People for Parks (PFP) grew the number of community- school parks it operates from eight to ten in 2016. Now 50,000 Angelenos in Pico-Union, Westlake, Central Alameda, South Park, Hollywood and Koreatown have a safe place to play on weekends. PFP is also training residents to take ownership of their community-school parks and organizing with fitness classes, gardening clubs and team sports.