21 Dec WIIN/WRDA Passes: ARBOR's Alternative 20 Flows Forward
The Water Infrastructure Investment Act (WIIN) – formerly known as the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA) – has passed and the Los Angeles’ River future flows forward. WIIN generates significant federal funding for ARBOR’s Alternative 20, $375.8 million of the project’s $1.4 billion cost. Upon completion, ARBOR’s Alternative 20 will restore 719 acres of ecosystem habitat, representing a net increase of 119% in habitat space in the 11.5 mile project area. 16,833 new jobs and $4,675,606,000 in labor income will be created as a result of this monumental effort of ecologically-mindful civil engineering. According to their 2015 “pLAn”, the City of Los Angeles plans to either “[c]omplete or initiate” ARBOR’s Alternative 20 by 2035.
In 2013, FoLAR co-founder and President Lewis MacAdams headed to Washington D.C. with Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Councilmember Gilbert Cedillo, City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, Dr. Carol Armstrong, and other LA River enthusiasts to advocate for federal support of ARBOR’s Alternative 20. With the help of Mia O’Connell, now of O’Connell & Dempsey, FoLAR and partners successfully advocated for Alternative 20 funding and for the US Army Corp of Engineers (Army Corps) to fully consider endorsing Alternative 20 as the Federal Plan, against great odds. To ensure its completion, FoLAR contributed almost one million dollars to fund the ARBOR study and continued to advocate for ARBOR and for Alternative 20 as the preferred project plan. Quickly adopted by the City of Los Angeles in 2014, FoLAR successfully rallied the community to influence the Army Corps to adopt Alternative 20 as its preferred plan in 2015. A unanimous vote by the Los Angeles City Council on June 29th, 2016 sealed the City’s approval to go forward with ARBOR’s Alternative 20 and moved the project back to the center of the federal stage.
With initial federal funding secured by the bipartisan passage of WIIN, it’s now up to the City of Los Angeles and other partners to work together and secure funding as the project progresses. With that in mind, the City of LA is already exploring the feasibility of establishing an Enhanced Increment Financing District (EIFD) along the River. Backed by property tax increment financing, an estimated $1.9B 30-year bond could pay for river restoration and affordable housing, covering the remaining cost of ARBOR’s Alternative 20 and even some LA River Revitalization Master Plan projects.
Until then, the acquisition of the G2 parcel – funded by both the City and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy – promises to be another near term crucial step towards River revitalization.
Friends of the Los Angeles Rivers thanks the many supporters of ARBOR’s Alternative 20 over the years and looks forward to continuing to shape an ecologically vibrant and recreational LA River together. Watch for more news in January on the G2 parcel!
Happy New Year!