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The River Needs To Be Healthy, Clean, and Green-Revitalizing the Lower L.A. River: Voices from Maywood

Maywood residents want a clean and green Los Angeles River. The River’s been polluted and degraded their whole lives. Some people don’t play or recreate by the River because it’s not clean. Residents call for greening and cleaning the River, and preventing pollution, should be at the forefront of revitalization for environmental justice, health equity, economic vitality, and civil rights compliance.

One resident remembers:

Since I was a kid, older people, neighbors, and my parents say, “Don’t go over there, it’s nasty.” The L.A. River, yeah it’s the River, but to me it’s more pollution.

The River reminds him of Maywood’s pollution burden, and he wants it clean and healthy as part of adding green spaces:

This area has been so industrialized, like healthwise I don’t think it’s something. I would think that if you were to revitalize it, you would have to clean it first before you start adding things like trees, or reserves, or little parks.

Another active community member boldly agreed:

Definitely that River is contaminated! It needs to be clean. Once it’s clean, more green should be in the River. Maybe habitats for birds. Make it look like a river.

Maywood demands a clean river. Adding trees and pocket parks helps provide healthy recreation and clean up contaminated air, ground, and water. This is needed to alleviate pollution and health burdens residents have lived with for decades. Cleaning and greening the River, holding government agencies and the industrial sector accountable, and preventing green displacement must be priorities. People of color and low income people who are disproportionately burdened along the River and beyond demand healthy, safe, and clean places to recreate!

This series on Revitalizing the Lower L.A. River: Voices from Maywood is based on my Master’s Thesis, An Alternative Paradigm to Revitalization of the Lower Los Angeles River: A Maywood Story (Master’s Thesis, M.S. Regenerative Studies, Cal Poly Pomona, College of Environmental Design 2017).

Please email me at tmok [ @ ] cityprojectca.org if you have comments or questions.

See Whitewashing the L.A. River? Displacement and Equitable Greening.

Photo: Lower L.A. River in Maywood