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May 15, 2021

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The Westwood Neighborhood Greenway Is Now Complete – Streetsblog Los Angeles

The Westwood Neighborhood Greenway is now complete, though it is currently closed to the public. In October 2020, the Los Angeles City Bureau of Sanitation project began pumping water into an artificial stream where it is cleaned before continuing its course from the Santa Monica Mountains to the Pacific Ocean via Ballona Creek. All trees and plants are native to this part of California, as are those on the adjacent section of the Metro E Line right-of-way (ROW).

The two-acre project’s genesis was in 2007 – as an idea for open land straddling the then under-study Expo line (now the E line) in the Westwood Gardens subdivision in Rancho Park. With relatively little space needed for the train, the Expo Construction Authority proposed combining Metro’s land with surplus city land (from unbuilt roads paralleling the Southern Pacific ROW) for 170 parking spaces. Train advocates and Expo neighbors united to lobby the Authority to adopt a no-parking option, which it did in 2011. With that success, in 2013, the “Westwood Greenway Steering Committee” formed to advocate for a Greenway.

Along with cleaning water, the Greenway will educate the public on sustainability. Educational signs tell how to keep the Santa Monica Bay clean. They also outline the environmental benefits of native plants. The signs have QR codes, linking to a website which translates them into numerous languages and gives more information, such as how to choose native plants for home gardens. The Greenway will also have an audio tour available through a free app.

Situated at the Westwood/Rancho Park E Line Station, the site is uniquely accessible by train, bus, bicycle, and on foot. Gates at the east and west ends of the Greenway-North will open to a decomposed granite path through it, providing an alternative walk route to the E Line during daylight hours. The Greenway-South, which will remain behind a locked fence, is visible along the Expo bike-ped path.

As the project was being finished, the Steering Committee formed the nonprofit Westwood Greenway, Inc. to support the Greenway “as a showcase for native plants that reduce water and air pollution while preserving biodiversity.” To facilitate schoolchildren’s visits, the nonprofit hopes to help obtain a restroom facility and a sunshade over an outdoor learning center – currently an unshaded group of sitting-sized boulders near the stream. With the site still closed to the public and maintenance and security under discussion, the nonprofit’s board members have been weeding the site, picking up trash, and meeting regularly with city officials.

Streetsblog L.A. first covered the Greenway idea in June 2008 (“New Group Calls for Greenway Along Proposed Expo Line”), and it live-casted a 2013 groundbreaking. (A city-sponsored groundbreaking came in 2016, when the project was fully funded.) Indeed, Streetsblog, which styles itself as “impact journalism,” was impactful, helping educate the Greenway advocates and government decisionmakers. SBLA was well situated to do that. Reporter/editor Joe Linton is a self-proclaimed creek freak, served at the Bronx River Alliance and Friends of the L.A. River, authoring their Official Guide book.

The Westwood Neighborhood Greenway was funded with money remaining after the city of Los Angeles’ Proposition O projects came in under budget, and by California’s Proposition 84.

For much more information, see the project website at WestwoodGreenway.org.

Streetsblog L.A. founder Damien Newton and his family get a preview tour of the Westwood Neighborhood Greenway. Photo by author
Streetsblog L.A. founder Damien Newton and his family get a preview tour of the Westwood Neighborhood Greenway. Photo by the author.

Jonathan Weiss practices law and lives in Cheviot Hills. He is also a boardmember of Streetsblog L.A.’s parent nonprofit, the California Streets Initiative.