It’s not parks vs. flood con­trol

Re “Ten­sion be­low the sur­face,” Col­umn, June 26

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION -

In his col­umn about state fund­ing for re­vi­tal­iza­tion ef­forts along the L.A. River, Ge­orge Skel­ton pits one crit­i­cal need (flood con­trol) against an­other (park space). Skel­ton may be a sea­soned Capi­tol watcher, but he misses a key point about his own back­yard.

Smart pol­i­cy­mak­ers re­al­ize that it’s not an ei­ther-or sit­u­a­tion along the river. In the face of cli­mate change and on­go­ing wa­ter scarcity, it is ir­re­spon­si­ble to in­vest lim­ited public funds to meet only one goal. Our parks have the ca­pac­ity to eas­ily ac­com­mo­date multi­ben­e­fit in­fra­struc­ture that serves many needs, in­clud­ing re­plen­ish­ing aquifers, buffer­ing against floods and re­duc­ing the heatis­land ef­fect.

The union of parks, open space and wa­ter man­age­ment isn’t wish­ful think­ing; it’s hap­pen­ing right now. At South Los An­ge­les Wet­lands Park, a former brown­field now cleanses storm wa­ter while pro­vid­ing open space to a park-poor com­mu­nity. Flood-prone Elmer Av­enue in the San Fer­nando Val­ley has been trans­formed, us­ing na­ture to soak up rain­wa­ter be­fore it in­un­dates the streets.

Parks aren’t pork. They’re es­sen­tial to a smarter, more sus­tain­able re­gion. James Alamillo

Santa Mon­ica The writer is ur­ban pro­grams man­ager for Heal the Bay.

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