L.A.’s Elmer Avenue Retrofit Project
In Los Angeles, where both runoff pollution and water supply are concerns, the Green Street initiative is using environmentally friendly methods to address those issues on the city’s streets and sidewalks. “It’s a way to improve water quality while also harnessing the resource,” Hagekhalil says.
The Department of Public Works Bureau of Sanitation worked with nonprofits, such as TreePeople, several city agencies and the homeowners themselves to improve Elmer Avenue in the San Fernando Valley, a street subject to flooding after even minimal rainfall. The area, encompassing nearly 40 acres of tributary, previously had no storm drains. Rain on the street is now captured and infiltrated underground, helping recharge the groundwater.
Partners worked with homeowners to install rain barrels, bioswales and rain gardens on their properties. The street also now has new solar street lamps, gutters, porous pavement and infiltration galleries under the street. The upgrades also considerably improved the neighborhood’s aesthetics. “We are changing our policies and moving toward projects that are multi-benefit,” Hagekhalil says.
As part of the Green Street Initiative, the city also recently completed the Riverdale Avenue Project, which involved installing planters, porous pavers and an infiltration gallery along nearly 500 feet. The improvements will help prevent runoff pollution from reaching the Los Angeles River and eventually the Pacific Ocean.
- Read the main story, “Just add water,” to learn why, in the formula for creating “green” cities, the water plays a critical role.
Jennifer Grzeskowiak is a Laguna Beach, Calif.-based freelance writer.