More Concrete in the Arroyo Seco Stream???

County Holds Trail Update (6/21)  | 2nd Community Meeting (7/11)

The public comment period has recently closed for the draft environmental documentation for an extension of an existing bikeway in the Arroyo Seco Channel proposed by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, but the debate about the plan rages on. The plan raises interesting questions about the future of the Arroyo Seco and local improvement efforts.

The little known Arroyo Seco bike path, built over twenty years ago, is a wide patch of concrete in the flood channel extending for 1.75 miles from just south of the York Street Bridge almost to Avenue 43 in Northeast Los Angeles. 

The County proposal calls for extending the in-stream concrete path. The first phase, which would cost $2.8 million, would extend this path 2.6 miles to Avenue 26 with a 10-12 foot wide, 8 inch thick slab of concrete in the streambed. The second phase, which is currently unfunded, would include two components: a) a paved trail on top of the Arroyo running from Pasadena Avenue to the Cypress Avenue pedestrian bridge over the Arroyo Seco Parkway; and b) a future extension of the in-stream path to Avenue 19.

The Arroyo Seco Foundation supports improving the connectivity of bike facilities and other trail systems in the Arroyo Seco, but we do not feel this project is right for the Arroyo. Here are some of our concerns:

Failure to Incorporate Other Planning Efforts

There are numerous recent studies, such as the Arroyo Seco Watershed Restoration Feasibility Study and the Arroyo Seco Corridor Management Plan, which have not been taken into consideration in this proposal.  These studies plan far-reaching, visionary efforts to restore and upgrade this area.  Upcoming studies that will look at possible restoration possibilities, such as the ecosystem restoration study of the Army Corps of Engineers, have also not been taken into account.  We are concerned that more far-reaching and beneficial restoration projects will be dismissed because of this poorly-conceived bike facility. There are also many funding opportunities to improve water quality in the Arroyo, such as Proposition 50 and Proposition O, that may be hindered by this multi-million dollar recreation facility running through the Arroyo stream.

Cities are creatively looking to remove concrete from our waterways.  Los Angeles has recently initiated a Los Angeles River Revitalization Study that will consider ways to improve and naturalize the river.  Pasadena has recently removed more than 450 tons of concrete from the Arroyo Seco stream.   It is just wrong to add thousands of tons of concrete to the bed of the Arroyo stream, while stream restoration plans are being made and implemented.


There are numerous safety concerns. Recently a young child was swept away and drowned in the Arroyo during a period of low water flow. The path is isolated from view and only has a few exit and entrance points, leading to possible precarious situations.. The project calls for an exit point at Avenue 26, just south of Figueroa, near the offramp of the Arroyo Seco Parkway. This exit point is constantly congested with traffic and dangerous for cyclists. This exit may lead to car/cyclist conflicts and problems.

The section of the Arroyo channel where the bike path would be extended.  Access and water present serious safety problems.

Tree Removal

The plan calls for the removal of 127 trees, including seventy-five oak trees. One stately oak to be removed is more than eight inches in diameter.  Other native species, including 20 sycamore trees, 15 cottonwoods, 3 elderberry and 1 white alder tree, will be removed. The plan is not clear about how the trees destroyed will be replaced.

Make Your Voice Heard

The draft negative declaration prepared by the County claims that the project will not have a significant environmental impact.  We believe this is a very narrow view that ignores the Arroyo Seco stream and the trees as well as plans to restore and upgrade the watershed.  The project is poorly-conceived and will undercut more beneficial restoration efforts.  The County should go back to the drawing boards and find another path outside the Arroyo Seco stream for this bikeway.

Although the public comment period has now closed, you can still view the environmental documents at the Cypress Park Library and Lincoln Heights Library or download a scanned version here. We now await the County's response to the numerous negative comments residents and community organizations submitted.  Then the matter will go to the County Supervisors for a final decision.

If you have question about the plan, contact:

Eric Batman
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works
Programs Development Division
900 South Fremont Avenue, 11th Floor
Alhambra, CA 91803-1331

Thanks for your concern

Arroyo Seco Foundation, PO Box 91622, Pasadena, CA 91109-1622 (323) 405-7326