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

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