17 Aug Press Release: FoLAR announces “River Certified” development criteria to ensure public access and ecological protections
FoLAR announces “River Certified” development criteria to ensure public access and ecological protections
For immediate release — additional questions and comments please contact Michael Atkins, Communications and Impact Manager at 323.223.0585 with Friends of the Los Angeles River
Los Angeles, CA — The Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR) has taken a critical step to promote equitable public access and ecological restoration among River-adjacent development proposals and to ensure a transparent and inclusive community engagement process.
FoLAR is introducing its “River Certified” program to signify proposed developments keep the people and nature front and center when envisioning the near and distant future for the Los Angeles River in the City of Los Angeles. To meet “River Certified” criteria, projects must maximize public access, adhere to ecological restoration standards, and promote inclusivity. Publicizing this criteria signifies to the public and developers the values FoLAR espouses as an environmental nonprofit dedicated to shaping the River’s future to the benefit of all community members – people and wildlife alike.
FoLAR has spent 30 years building the River Movement and continues to stand for ecological restoration, equitable public access, and feasible concrete removal. FoLAR’s participation and partial funding of The Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Integrated Feasibility Report (the ARBOR study), along with its institutional knowledge of the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan (LARRMP) position FoLAR to facilitate community discussion as it relates to future proposals meeting existing and approved planning guidelines.
FoLAR provides further information on ecologically responsible planning and design on its website. The guidelines and criteria for a River-adjacent development to be “River Certified” are reprinted below, and also available online: River Certified Development Criteria
FoLAR Executive Director Marissa Christiansen commented:
On behalf of the River community, we remain dedicated to ensuring that forthcoming development along the River make space for the public and wildlife. “River Certified” proposals adhere to agreed upon guidelines to optimize River development for public access, ecological restoration, and inclusivity throughout. We hope to signal which projects best benefit the River and are mindful and inclusive of existing community by bestowing upon worthy proposals the “River Certified” seal of approval.
Friends of the Los Angeles River is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission since 1986 has been to ensure a publicly accessible and ecologically sustainable Los Angeles River by inspiring River stewardship through community engagement, education, advocacy, and thought leadership. FOLAR is a leading powerful force guiding policy and connecting communities to the River, nationally respected as a leader in urban river revitalization with a membership of 35,000.
Friends of the Los Angeles River – River Certified Development Criteria
The following criteria serve as the basis for Friends of the Los Angeles Rivers’ support of a given River-adjacent development. They are framed around FoLAR’s mission to create an equitably accessible and ecologically sustainable Los Angeles River. These criteria are broadly defined to begin the review of any given development, while allowing room for more specified comments on a project-specific basis.
Affected developments include planning and design for proposed developments immediately adjacent to the River or separated from the River only by publicly owned, utility or rail right-of-way.
The criteria below are adapted from relevant sources, as cited.
Appropriate and responsible River-adjacent developments will:
- Developer prioritizes social equity and inclusion by:
- Providing the widest opportunity for public participation programming. (CA Coastal Act)
- Recognizing and adhering to the identity of immediate River community (EV Q Condition)
- Providing affordable housing consistent with local needs (EV Q Conditions)
- Implementing local hiring practices
- Maximize public access to the River by providing public thoroughfares in and/or around the site to the River (RIO)
- Providing wayfinding, landmark, and informational signage from nearest roadway and public transit (CA Coastal Act)
- Maximize River-adjacent mobility and recreation opportunities by:
- Providing River-adjacent multi-use trails, bikeways and/or walking paths that support a diverse and interconnected mobility network throughout the river corridor (RIO)
- Provide for and maintain continuity of existing or planned bike ways and multi-use trails (RIO)
- Proposed development is consistent with and helps meet the goals of relevant River planning documents, such as ARBOR, the RIO and the LARRMP. (EV Q Conditions)
- Proposed development improves public access to the River by
- Providing a permanent public access dedication for open space and community gathering directly adjacent to the River (San Antonio, CA Coastal Act, RIO)
- Linking the River to street edges by providing public thoroughfares to the scale appropriate to the surrounding neighborhood (RIO)
- Maintaining continuous views from the nearest street and the river. (San Antonio)
- Providing an aesthetically pleasing environment for pedestrian and bicyclists by designing buildings to a human scale (San Antonio)
- Designing, funding and maintaining planned public improvements along the site’s River frontage (FoLAR original, providing basis for a potential future “River Fund”)
- For developments separated from the River by publicly-owned, utility or rail right-of-way, the Developer should coordinate with the necessary entities to entitle, design, develop and maintain Public Access and open space as outlined above.
- Proposed development activates the public realm along the River by adhering to the design guidelines set forth in the City of LA’s River Improvement Overlay Zone:
- Orienting the long side of large format retail parallel to the River (RIO)
- Orienting the short side of industrial or manufacturing uses parallel to the River (RIO)
- Providing ground floor River access, signage and frontage for business and commercial uses (RIO)
- Proposed development promotes Ecosystem restoration by
- Financing and maintaining the in-channel modifications proposed in the LARRMP, ARBOR, and/or other relevant River planning documents. (FoLAR original, providing basis for a potential future “River Fund”)
- Maximizing the use of Southern California native vegetation for habitat and landscaping elements (ARBOR and LARRMP)
- Providing multi-benefit landscape designs and infrastructure improvements throughout the site and within the public space (ARBOR and LARRMP)
- Preserving existing River ecology and implementing further ecological restoration, as set forth in the relevant adopted River planning documents (CA Coastal Act)
- Casting no new shadows that preclude in-channel ecological restoration consistent with a Southwestern Riparian River ecology.(MA Bill H826, FoLAR’s Wetland Restoration Principles, TNC study)