California will provide $25 million toward L.A.'s purchase of a long-coveted parcel of Los Angeles riverfront. A former railroad land is slated to become a wetlands park if the city can close the deal.
L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti has called the parcel the "crown jewel" along an 11-mile stretch of riverfront between downtown and Glendale. Known as the Taylor Yard, it is 42 acres of abandoned railroad in Cypress Park and includes nearly a mile of scenic river frontage.
It's one element in an ambitious $1.4 billion plan to transform the Los Angeles River from a gritty concrete channel into a more natural waterway from its headlands in the San Fernando Valley to the ocean.
The city has been in negotiations with Union Pacific Co. to buy the parcel since late 2013, but it has been unclear how much it would cost or where the money would come from. Union Pacific spokesman Francisco Castillo said negotiations were moving in a "positive direction," but he declined to say what the property's price tag was.
State Senate President Kevin DeLeon (D-Los Angeles) announced over the weekend that the $25 million will come from unallocated state bond funds to create riparian habitat and wetlands projects along the river. The 2006 parks bond, known as Proposition 84, supplied $5 million, and $20 million came from a water bond, Proposition 50.
DeLeon represents river-adjacent communities.
"One of the big issues that all Angelenos face is that we're such a park-starved community," DeLeon said. Converting Taylor Yard into a wetlands park "would really bring this vision of the emerald necklace, this vision of the Los Angeles River to life," he said.
The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Board was slated to vote Monday evening to authorize the $25 million grant of funds from the state Wildlife Conservation Board to use Prop 84 and Prop 50 funds to acquire open space, restoration and recreational easement rights to the parcel. The conservancy would allocate the money to the city.
Taylor Yard was a Union Pacific Railroad switching yard dating back to the 1920s through 2006. Much of the original yard has been transformed in recent decades into the Rio De Los Angeles State Park, into a school and eventually a 350-home mixed-use development. But the 42-acre parcel remained unsold.
The City Council, in its 2013 vote to negotiate with Union Pacific, said the land would be transformed into a wetlands park that would help clean the river water and provide a recreation area. A proposal from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers envisions the river be widened to 300 feet at some points.
The purchase was last discussed by the City Council in April 2014 in closed session.
In a separate action, The Walt Disney Company recently pledged the donation of $1 million to the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corp. to create three small riverfront parks, said LARRC Executive Director Omar Brownson.