Rivers and Mountains Conservancy

A somewhat minor controversy erupted last week, when Councilwoman Margaret Clark was replaced on the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (COG) by Mayor John Tran.  Clark argued that she should be able to retain her COG seat because that was a prerequisite to her holding on to her seat on the Lower Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers and Mountains Conservancy (RMC).


[Yes, I know--lots of acronyms.  Governments love acronyms.  That's also where city councilmembers get big chunks of their income--by serving on these regional governing bodies]


In case anyone is interested, here's a list of both completed and on-going projects sponsored by the RMC:


One hundred and thirty-nine projects, and just under $50 million distributed to local cities and other entities to create parks and educational facilities for area residents.  I'll leave it up to the reader to determine the ways in which Clark's presence on the RMC has either helped or not helped Rosemead's residents.

A more aggressive enviro position would be good

There's not a lot you can do with the Alhambra wash being concreted over, but, we could do our bit to keep it clean before it empties into the dam. The Amgos de los Rios has an idea to open up the wash 1/2 mile before it joins the Rio Hondo. Amigos is doing a lot of projects in El Monte.


Is there anything similar being done, maybe in that golf course? I googled the Rio Hondo river, and lo-and-behold. You can see where the concrete ends and the natural part begins:

Satellite image.

Pocket Parks

Some of the projects listed on the RMC site are "pocket parks," built immediately adjacent to concrete-encased rivers and washes.  My wife and I actually ran into Margaret Clark at the opening for Lashbrook Park in El Monte, an RMC-sponsored park promoted by Amigos de Los Rios.


The RMC also made a very small grant to Amigos for the study of opening up the Alhambra Wash at its terminus.  That would include the part that runs through Whittier Narrows golf course.


Of course, the REAL prize would have been to knock down the wall on the WEST side of Walnut Grove, and build a wetlands park on those 23 acres of open space adjacent to the Alhambra wash (That's the part that appears as graded dirt in the satellite picture you reference above).  Instead, some city council members decided to build a Wal-Mart supercenter there.  You know, the one whose opening has corresponded with a 3% drop in sales tax revenues for the city of Rosemead?


In addition to the Alambra Wash, the Rubio wash also runs through parts of Rosemead.  The Rubio wash runs under Valley Blvd just west of Walnut Grove.  Behind the McDonald's at Walnut Grove and Valley is a very small amount of open space that abuts both the McDonald's and the wash (it's screened off from public view.  There's a tent in there behind the screen, presumably serving as a homeless person's abode).


The other side of the wash runs quite close to the long-defunct "New Century Auto Mall," which is also fenced off from public access.  Right now, those parcels aren't doing anyone any good (well, with the possible exception of the homeless person living behind McDonald's).


I can imagine a scenario where if someone wants to build a mixed use development along Valley (somewhere between roughly Valley and Rosemead and Valley and Walnut Grove) or if they were hoping to be able to eliminate or reduce set-backs or open-space requirements in those areas, they could be enticed to pay to acquire other nearby lots (like the ones I just mentioned) for preservation as open space.  (The acquisition could also be financed in part by RMC dollars, or by Prop. 84 dollars, without the need for us to make concessions to developers).


That's a win-win:  We get the mixed use development, which means more affordable housing and increased tax revenue and jobs.  And we also preserve nearby areas as open space, which is going to become increasingly valuable as mixed-use development eliminates the yards that many of us are accustomed to having in our own houses as children.


I think these sorts of public-private partnerships, or an aggressive hunt after state or federal grants (like those controlled by the RMC and allowed under last year's Prop. 84) are going to be just about the only way we can hope to get any significant park expansion in our city.