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AB-1558 Los Angeles River: river ranger program.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 03/29/2017 04:00 AM
AB1558:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  March 28, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 1558


Introduced by Assembly Member Cristina Garcia

February 17, 2017


An act to add Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 550) to Division 1 of the Water Code, relating to rivers.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1558, as amended, Cristina Garcia. Urban river restoration program. Los Angeles River: river ranger program.
Existing law provides for the protection, enhancement, and restoration of rivers in this state. Existing law authorizes the Director of Water Resources to establish a program of flood control and urban creek restoration, known as the Urban Streams Restoration Program, consisting of the development of the capability by the Department of Water Resources to respond to requests from local agencies and organizations for planning and design assistance for efficient and effective urban creek protection, restoration, and enhancement. establishes the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (the conservancies) and prescribes the membership and functions and duties of the conservancies with regard to the protection, preservation, and development of certain lands along the San Gabriel and Los Angeles Rivers and surrounding areas.

This bill would require the State Water Resources Control Board and the department, in collaboration, to establish a program to support urban communities in restoring their rivers for multiple benefits. The bill would, if the County of Los Angeles submits a proposal for a project for urban river restoration in the watershed of the Los Angeles River, require the board and the department to consider the proposal as a pilot project.

This bill would require the conservancies to collaborate with the Department of Parks and Recreation, the California Conservation Corps, and the State Lands Commission to develop a river ranger program to provide a network of river rangers who assist the public at sites along the Los Angeles River and its tributaries, as prescribed. The bill would require the conservancies, no later than June 30, 2018, to develop a plan for the design and implementation of the program, containing specified components and information, and to provide a copy of the completed plan to certain legislative committees by that date.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares as follows:
(a) Since the 1940s, the County of Los Angeles has managed the Los Angeles River as a concrete flood channel. The communities through which the river passes have had limited contact with or responsibility for the river.
(b) In the last several decades, the Los Angeles River has received greater public attention and support for its restoration and availability as an environmental and recreational resource for the communities through which the river passes, and Congress recently approved a restoration plan for an 11-mile segment of the river near Dodger Stadium in the City of Los Angeles. The Legislature has appropriated funds to pay some of the costs of the Los Angeles River restoration, including an amount of one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000), which has been authorized under a recently enacted bond measure to benefit the river.
(c) Some communities have parks along the Los Angeles River, and bicyclists traverse the bike paths on the river’s levees every day. The City of South Gate has shifted its policy to direct community attention to the benefits of the Los Angeles River.
(d) The Lower Los Angeles River Working Group is currently developing a plan for revitalizing the river downstream from the City of Los Angeles, and is considering ways to encourage communities to engage with the river and make the river a welcoming place for the communities through which it passes. The working group has also considered the possibility of placing “river rangers,” similar to National Park Service Rangers, to increase public safety and provide resource interpretation services for visitors to the river.

SEC. 2.

 (a) For purposes of this section, “conservancies” means the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
(b) The conservancies shall collaborate with the Department of Parks and Recreation, the California Conservation Corps, and the State Lands Commission to develop a river ranger program to provide a network of river rangers who provide assistance to the public at sites along the Los Angeles River and its tributaries. The conservancies shall solicit the participation of representatives of local governments that have jurisdiction over segments of the river, including the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles. The conservancies, in cooperation with the Lower Los Angeles River Working Group, no later than June 30, 2018, shall prepare a plan for the design and implementation of the program, including recommendations regarding ways to finance the establishment and ongoing implementation of the program, and shall ensure that the plan is developed to accomplish all of the following objectives:
(1) Establish an identity for the Los Angeles River as a place for its communities to enjoy recreational opportunities and learn about the river’s history and environmental resources.
(2) Improve public safety for visitors to the Los Angeles River.
(3) Foster collaboration among state and local government entities and other public agencies with jurisdiction over the Los Angeles River, and coordinate the work of these entities and public agencies with regard to the development, maintenance, and enhancement of the river and its resources.
(4) Protect the parks, open space, and other public places adjacent to the Los Angeles River.
(5) Engage communities along the Los Angeles River in the protection and preservation of the Los Angeles River and its resources.
(6) Promote equal access and equity among all communities along the Los Angeles River with regard to the development and placement of improvements along the river.
(7) Monitor the physical conditions, environmental health, and development of green space along the Los Angeles River.
(8) Provide a system for coordinating the work of river rangers with programs and services offered by local governments and conservation corps.
(9) Incorporate the findings and principles expressed in the “Presidential Memorandum--Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Our National Parks, National Forests, and Other Public Lands and Waters,” dated January 12, 2017.
(c) No later than June 30, 2018, the conservancies shall submit a copy of the plan required to be prepared pursuant to subdivision (b) to the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife and the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water, in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
(d) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2019, and as of that date is repealed.
SECTION 1.

The Legislature finds and declares as follows:

(a)For 15 years, the State of California has pursued a policy of integrated regional water management encouraging water agencies in each region to collaborate in setting regional priorities for water management and infrastructure projects. The state also has promoted watershed management to address the connections among water challenges in each watershed, from top to bottom.

(b)In the last decade, water supply and water quality issues have converged. Stormwater quality and management now addresses how to capture rainwater and stormwater to reduce stormwater flows and pollution and to increase water supply. The recent drought led to groundwater resource depletion and concentration of groundwater contaminants. Groundwater contamination had caused some communities to shut down their groundwater wells and lose a primary drinking water supply. Flood management now focuses on diverting flood flows upstream in the watershed to reduce downstream flooding as well as to recharge groundwater aquifers.

(c)In upstream areas as well as in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, riverine habitat needs have led to restoration of wetlands and riparian habitat corridors.

(d)For many decades in urban areas, many rivers and streams were used only as release valves for moving stormwater runoff out to sea. More recently, however, river management has focused increasingly on how rivers serve the communities through which they flow for many purposes, including, but not limited to, stormwater runoff, riparian and wetland habitat, open space and parks, active transportation corridors such as bicycling, and water supply management such as stormwater capture and groundwater recharge.

(e)River neighbors have started to recognize the opportunities to connect to the river’s resources in numerous ways.

SEC. 2.Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 550) is added to Division 1 of the Water Code, to read:
10.Urban River Restoration Program
550.

(a)The board and the department, in collaboration, shall establish a program to support urban communities in restoring their rivers for multiple benefits. An eligible urban community shall demonstrate that it has incorporated the interests, local governments, and perspectives of the entire watershed into its planning effort.

(b)Benefits that the board and the department shall consider include, but are not limited to, stormwater management, parks, recreation, habitat, water supply, and water quality.

(c)A river restoration planning effort shall incorporate the findings and principles in the “Presidential Memorandum—Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Our National Parks, National Forests, and Other Public Lands and Waters,” dated January 12, 2017.

(d)If the County of Los Angeles submits a proposal for a project for urban river restoration in the watershed of the Los Angeles River, the board and the department shall consider the proposal as a pilot project. The County of Los Angeles shall demonstrate that it has engaged all communities throughout the Los Angeles River watershed, including underserved communities lacking sufficient access to parks and open space, in the planning of the urban river restoration.