In November 2016, City Council adopted the Five-Year Strategic Plan, FY 2016-17 to 2020-21 to respond to Culver City’s changing environment. One of the goals identified was to enhance the restoration and use of Ballona Creek (pronounced "Bah-yo-nuh") and make it a more sustainable, walkable, bikeable and
connected recreational attraction. The Ballona Creek Revitalization Project aims to implement that goal, managed by the Community Development Department in coordination with a task force comprised of Council Members, City staff, and community stakeholders.
Once a natural stream, Ballona Creek is now a concrete lined flood control channel of approximately nine miles in length that drains 130 square miles of the Los Angeles Basin. It runs through the middle of Culver City with a paved Class I multi-use recreation trail along the northern bank from Syd Kronenthal Park to the Santa Monica Bay. The aim of the Ballona Creek Revitalization Project is to explore opportunities to reconfigure the Creek that will support storm water management, habitat enhancement, and increase open space and landscaped areas that will further connect Culver City to itself and to the Santa Monica Bay.
The project is supported by two CivicSpark Water Fellows. Administered by the Local Government Commission (LGC) in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR), CivicSpark is Governor Brown’s Initiative AmeriCorps program that aims to build local capacity to respond to climate change. The Fellows serve for an 11-month capacity building initiative. The City was first awarded two Fellows, Jonathan Dolan and Jose Torres, whose term was September 2017-August 2018. A second round of Fellows, Morgan Kaplan and Priya Macwan, will serve the City from September 2018-August 2019. This partnership aims to provide a beneficial relationship for the Fellows and City. The Fellows enjoy hands-on training planning a water project while the City benefits from added staffing power.
While the project is still early on in the process, a strong foundation is in place to set the project up for success. The Fellows conducted extensive research and reported on past planning efforts; facilitated a task force meeting with key stakeholders including non-profits, local and regional agencies, and neighboring jurisdictions; and prepared detailed mapping along the creek with ownership, use, easement, and maintenance information. The second cycle of Fellows will support staff to continue these efforts and begin planning for the preparation of a creek master plan. The master plan would outline plans for revitalization from short-term “low hanging fruit” improvements (art installations, interpretive and wayfinding signage, lighting, homeless assistance, repaving, gate openings, safety patrols, education campaigns) to long-term “audacious goal” improvements (pocket parks, path extension, terracing/reconfiguration, water capture, mobility hubs).
An exciting opportunity that Mayor Small and staff are exploring for funding a potential eastward extension of the creek’s multi-use trail is an Environmental Impact Bond (EIB). An extension would improve non-vehicular transit options in Culver City by increasing the connectivity of the trail with the surrounding community. It could also benefit the environment and vulnerable communities adjacent to the extension. Partnership with the City of Los Angeles, LA Metro, US Army Corps of Engineers, and Los Angeles County Flood Control District would be necessary.
Key Task Force Stakeholders
- May 2, 2018 Ballona Creek Task Force Meeting
- Ballona Creek Trail and Bikeway Environmental and Recreational Enhancement Study, Baldwin Hills Conservancy
- Ballona Creek and Trail Focused Special Study, City of Culver City
- Ballona Creek Greenway Plan, The Bay Foundation
- Enhanced Watershed Management Program for the Ballona Creek Watershed, Ballona Creek Watershed Management Group
- Five-Year Strategic Plan, FY 2016-17 to 2020-21, City of Culver City
- Historical Ecology of the Ballona Creek Watershed, Southern California Coastal Water Research Project
- Short History of Ballona Creek, Ballona Creek Renaissance