One of the lessons that the world’s great cities learned is how to use natural and man created landmarks to strengthen and create great places. This is one area where Los Angeles still lags, and nowhere is this clearer than in the case of the Pacoima Wash.
The Wash is a tributary of the Los Angeles River (actually a tributary of a tributary, but who’s counting) that runs through the San Fernando Valley from the Pacoima Dam southwest through Sylmar, the city of San Fernando and eventually Pacoima. Instead of being a vibrant open space designed to connect disparate communities and bring people together outdoors, the Wash is a physical barrier as real as a freeway or freight rail line. The land surrounding the Wash is kept behind fences, the trail running parallel is closed to the public and behind bars, instead of people, the Wash’s greenspace is a resting ground for weeds.
But a non-profit environmental justice organization known as Pacoima Beautiful wants to change all that. And with the help of the L.A. County Department of Public Health’s Policies for Livable and Active Communities and Environments (PLACE) Grant they will soon have an official plan to help do so. The first step in the process of turning the Wash from eye sore to community anchor is to create a vision for the area, a vision that is informed by representative of the community, and that’s what Pacoima Beautiful and its allies are trying to do.
“Pacoima Wash is a very important natural, open space to the community so we’re protecting it,” supplies Anita Cerna with the City of Los Angeles Department of Planning. “Now we’re also studying the Wash to see if there’s a way we can use it beyond being a place to collect water”
And help for the community can’t come soon enough. Pacoima is a desert when it comes to open space, even with the large Ritchie Valens Park located just off the 118 Highway. Pacoima has 54.3 acres of park space. According to the LA City General Plan, the ideal ratio of park space is 4 acres per 1,000 residents. Because Pacoima has over 100,000 people its ideal ratio,is close to 400 acres of park space. Read more…