Locational Conflict and Ideas of Nature: Citizen Reactions to Park-Making Efforts Along the Los Angeles River

EPA Grant Number: U916174
Title: Locational Conflict and Ideas of Nature: Citizen Reactions to Park-Making Efforts Along the Los Angeles River
Investigators: Kahle, Chris
Institution: University of Southern California
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: January 1, 2003 through January 1, 2006
Project Amount: $127,873
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2003) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Geography , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration


The objective of this research project is to study citizen reactions to park-making efforts along the Los Angeles River. Urban areas are experiencing increased land-use pressure with new in-fill development projects. Open-space development is at a disadvantage because people perceive that it generates no tax or job benefits, though some research has demonstrated that it provides a range of positive health and community benefits. As open-space development projects move forward, conflicts over design and function have become more common as more stakeholders become engaged to the land transformation process. Conflict boils down to what kind of parks get built and for whom?


This research examines efforts to green the Los Angeles River through a case study analysis of a variety of "riverworks" that represent the range of geographic imaginaries of what the River can become to the millions of people who live near it. Media stories, maps, plans, and river restoration projects in the last 15 years have created a radically reimagined river from the concrete culvert that sends stormwater runoff out of the highly urbanized Los Angeles watershed. These "riverworks," formed by the environmental justice movement and the necessity of hybrid uses of scarce urban land resources, are driving the development of a new green landscape that is just beginning to materialize through the urban fabric of Los Angeles.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, park-making efforts, land use, urban land resources, open-space development, Los Angeles River, Los Angeles, California, CA, stormwater runoff, watershed, urban, riverworks, citizen reactions, river restoration projects.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2003
  • 2004
  • Final