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Reclaiming Griffith Park’s Lost Acreage for Public Enjoyment


View images of the 28 acre site of Griffith Park on the East Bank of the Los Angeles River in Atwater Village — which could be the Next Great Urban Park in Los Angeles.

Central Service Yard Opportunity Site

Reclaiming Griffith Park’s Lost Acreage for Public Enjoyment

By Jeff Gardener and Bernadette Soter,
Members Griffith Park Master Plan Working Group

Griffith Park Advisor Spring 2008

Picture a bucolic stream, a tree-shaded picnic area, a path for walkers and equestrians, a playground for little ones and new athletic fields where kids can enjoy organized sports. Now picture it all in an easily accessible area of Griffith Park near working class families with a stunning view of its hills and river.

Is it a pipe dream? No. It’s what happens when the community, through its representatives on the Griffith Park Draft Master Plan Working Group, recognizes that by combining North Atwater Park, the North Atwater Park Stream Restoration site an a significant portion of Central Service Yard, the public’s enjoyment of Griffith Park can be expanded and multiplied, without the prohibitively expensive purchase of new parkland.

At the core of this opportunity is the discovery that Central Service Yard (CSY) in North Atwater Village is dedicated public parkland. An analysis of maps and records by the Recreation and Parks Department’s Real Estate Division found, in the Fall of 2006, that this choice riverfront parcel contiguous to North Atwater Park is not only parkland, but is part of Colonel Griffith’s original rancho grant. As a result, in January 2007, the Griffith Park Draft Master Plan Working Group discussed, approved and added to their rewrite of the Griffith Park Master Plan, language proposing that as much as possible of CSY’s 27.55 riverfront acres now inhabited by the Department’s Central Service Yard be returned to public park use.

Today, this parcel is not used for recreation. It is the site of a permanent building housing Recreational and Parks regional offices, several maintenance sheds and workshops serving Rec and Parks and other City departments, several portable buildings that function as offices for recreation divisions, a large employee parking lot, fleet vehicle parking and storage areas, and other non-recreational uses. By eliminating the non-Griffith Park specific functions into a smaller, more economical footprint on the site, a significant portion of this parkland easily can be reclaimed.

Since CSY is contiguous to the scenic Los Angeles River, the site of the North Atwater Creek Stream Restoration and existing North Atwater Park in Griffith Park, this reclaimed river-frontage can be converted easily into picnic grounds and a wildlife viewing area that will complement the pedestrian/equestrian corridor currently along its bank. Given that the acreage is flat, surrounded by a neighborhood of working families, close to a regularly scheduled bus line and only a short walk from Chevy Chase Recreation Center, it can be an excellent site for new sports fields for youth. All of these uses can be accommodated with sensitive planning that takes into account the needs of all users, including the existing Atwater horsekeeping community and the Recreation and Parks departmental functions that will remain at the site.