Restoring Natural Ecosystems for Urban Sustainability

Restoring our urban ecosystems means bringing nature back to our overly paved, gray urban core.  Green LA’s work on this monumental task is being done by three committees of its Urban Ecosystems Work Group - the Verde Coalition/Open Space Committee, the Water Committee, and the Urban Ecosystems Committee.

Walking to the Park

Only 33% of LA’s children are fortunate enough to be able to walk to a park in their neighborhood. Compare that to the 97% in Boston or even 65% in San Diego. Moreover, the lack of park space problem correlates with levels of poverty—four out of the five city council districts with the lowest median household incomes also have the least amount of community park space.

The Verde Coalition, a network of park advocates created in 1999, also serves as Green LA’s Open Space Committee.  The Verde Coalition is focusing on two issues impacting the creation and sustainability of park spaces: severe budget cuts to the Recreation & Parks Department (a 25% reduction over the last 3 years) and the profound lack of revenue to operate them.

Mobilizing to Prevent Park Cuts & Obtain New Revenue Sources

The Verde Coalition (Green LA’s Open Space Committee) and Save LA Parks Alliance are taking on severe cuts to LA’s parks budget with sobering resolve. To stave off the elimination of vital staff and to ensure the viability of spaces in our most vulnerable, park-poor neighborhoods, members continue to address the impact of deepening cuts.  The next step is to launch an initiative to campaign for a local revenue stream for LA to fund new parks and ongoing operations and maintenance.

The Verde Coalition is also convening team to develop a case study for the national City Parks Alliance to demonstrate how their Red Fields to Green Fields program would work in Los Angeles.  Red Fields to Green Fields seeks to access billions in federal stimulus and financial bailout funds to revitalize communities by creating jobs, improving the real estate market and creating much needed green open spaces.

Participating Organizations

  • Community Health Councils
  • From Lot to Spot
  • Hollywood Beautification Team
  • Los Angeles Conservation Corps
  • Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust
  • People for Parks
  • SEIU, Local 721
  • Shared Spaces Landscape Architecture
  • Trust for Public Land
  • Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, Occidental College

onserving Water

115 billion gallons of rainwater annually; 60% of all the water used by Angelenos last year alone—that’s how much water we channel off into rain gutters and down our storm drains to the sea. This is wasteful. Los Angeles imports over 80% of its water – at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars and impacts on the electrical grid – transporting water is the single largest use of electricity in California.

Members of the Water Committee have organized to move beyond our water-wasting ways and ‘temporary drought’ mentality. Bringing water to Southern California is not a sustainable practice, although it has been adopted as a long-term crisis-driven band-aid. Tapping into the Colorado, Sacramento and the San Joaquin Rivers and the Eastern Sierra is costly and politically fragile.

Long term solutions that focus on changing attitudes towards local water resources have been a starting place; reducing LA’s dependence on imported water is the goal line.

Water wisdom

Green LA’s Water Committee focuses on water policy to help Los Angeles wean itself from over-dependence on imported water. Los Angeles imports over 80% of its water – which places the region in great precarity.

The Water Committee created Not Enough to Waste: Solutions to Securing LA’s Water Future to enable city officials and residents to pursue readily available solutions to LA’s water problems.  Members also organize briefings for policy makers and public organizations who want to learn more about local water issues and solutions. To request a briefing, the group can be contacted here.

Participating Organizations

  • City Vida
  • Environmental Justice Coalition for Water
  • Environment Now
  • Desal Response Group
  • Food and Water Watch
  • Sierra Club, Angeles Chapter
  • Southern CA Watershed Alliance
  • The River Project
  • Urban Semillas

Using Natural Systems to Improve the Urban Environment

The Urban Ecosystems Committee focuses on restoring vital urban ecosystems. By greening LA’s metropolitan infrastructure to re-establish natural systems, local water resources will soon be enhanced by a new policy measure, Low Impact Development, which mandates that new developments capture local stormwater thereby allowing rain to infiltrate into the ground instead of polluting our rivers and ocean. Read the Natural Resources Defense Council study here.

Green LA helped  to win passage of a comprehensive Low Impact Development ordinance for the city of Los Angeles. This cutting-edge policy requires certain new developments and retrofits to capture storm water on site—helping set a precedent to establish environmentally sustainable landscaping practices.

Participating Organizations

  • Heal the Bay
  • TreePeople
  • City Vida