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E Line (Expo Line)

Expo Botanical Garden at Westwood and Expo One Step Closer to Reality

8:51 AM PST on November 16, 2011

I have to admit that when Jonathan Weiss first described his idea for a Westwood-Expo Botanical Water Garden (WEBWG) at the Westwood Station for the Expo Line, I thought it would never happen.  Three years later, it would be a major upset if some sort of Botanical Garden wasn't built at the station site, as the concept has gained traction even with groups opposing the rail line itself.

Today and tomorrow, WEBWG faces a new audience, the Proposition O Oversight Committee.  In 2004, the voters of Los Angeles passed Prop. O, which authorized the City of Los Angeles to issue a series of general obligation bonds for up to $500 million for projects to protect public health by cleaning up pollution, in the City's watercourses to meet Federal Clean Water Act requirements.   The committee has an agenda item entitled "Discussion and Possible Action: Westwood-Expo Botanical Garden."

Ryan Thiha, an Environmental Engineering Associate with the city's Watershed Protection Division is the project manager for WEBWG and explains the project.

"The (WEBWG) is located on City owned properties located along Exposition Light Rail and Westwood Station Stop between Overland and Westwood," Thiha explains.  "The project proposes to divert, treat, and use dry-weather flow from Overland by using bioremediation such as plants, soil, and UV exposure (natural treatment process). Project also proposes educational display boards, pedestrian walkways, and outdoor classroom area where local students can come and learn about the ecology and local hydrology. In
summary, it provides environmental, educational, recreational benefits to local community, students, and Light Rail passengers."

While the WEBWG concept has political momentum, the "no-parking" concept for the Westwood Station of the Expo Line was approved in March and the city unveiled its concept for the WEBWG in May, the project is not full funded.  Funding support from Prop. O could be the difference between having a beautiful and environmentally friendly park and a station surrounded by weeds.

WEWBG has important environmental benefits in addition to the benefits to the station.  It is these benefits that could attract the support of the Prop. O Oversight Committee.

The water garden would divert dry‐weather flow from now-buried streams and run it up and down city owned land adjacent to the Expo right of way helping to clean Ballona Creek and Santa Monica Bay," explains Weiss via email. "The revived stream would support a restored ecosystem and enhance pedestrian and bike paths lining the Expo transitway.  Through interpretive signs and labeled trees and plants, the Water Garden would also provide educational opportunities teaching visitors about ocean-friendly gardens and yards that conserve and clean water."

For full agenda listings for today's and tomorrow's meetings, click here.

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