Lower Arroyo Seco Restoration Moves Closer to Reality

$3.5 million in new State funding may soon remove concrete channels from Pasadena-South Pasadena area of Arroyo Seco

Published : Monday, June 24, 2019 | 5:02 AM

Image courtesy Arroyo Seco Foundation

Thanks to approved budget requests from Pasadena-area Senator Anthony J. Portantino the 2019-2020 State Budget now includes $3.5 million for the Arroyo Seco Watershed Restoration Project from Prop 68.

And while its name means “Dry Gulch,’ or “Dry River Bed,” depending on who you talk to, the gulch is home to a waterway that spans eight miles through the western portion of the City of Pasadena.

Surrounded by urban development, the Arroyo Seco supports thriving natural ecosystems that include several native plant communities and provides shelter, food and nesting sites for hundreds of wildlife species.

The area is protected parkland and open space with 22 miles of trails and myriad recreational opportunities. It was also recently included in the National Register of Historic Places, placing it among the nation’s top cultural resources.

“The Arroyo Seco is facing significant challenges due to the dam removal project,” said Portantino recently, “and I was pleased that both South Pasadena and Pasadena want to help enhance this important regional watershed.”

Exactly which projects will happen is still yet to be decided, however.

What is known at this point, is that the primary consideration of the funding is to restore the Arroyo to its once-natural state south of the Colorado Street Bridge, as the river moves through Pasadena and South Pasadena on its way to meet the Los Angeles River in Lincoln Heights. Through that area, the river has been bounded by concrete and chain link fences since the late 40s, following local flooding.

While that is the goal, the specific project within the Pasadena-South Pasadena area has yet to be officially determined.

According to Yvonne Vasquez, of the Senator’s media relations office, Senator Portantino asked his staff to reach out to leaders in each city for Prop 68 eligible projects.

“He was excited to have received several laudable ideas,” said Vasquez. “Since a number of them dealt with the Arroyo Seco, it was determined that the budget process not pick winners and losers among the ideas presented, and instead program $3.5 million to the Department of Parks and Recreation for the Arroyo Seco that would be awarded based on project submissions.

“The Senator is hopeful that Pasadena, South Pasadena and the activist community work in concert to submit a project that has consensus. In short, the cities can apply individually or not. Frankly, it’s a good problem for our region to be in and the Senator is pleased to have been successful in securing the funding.”

Tim Brick, Managing Director, of the Arroyo Seco Foundation, who has worked for decades on restoring the Hahamongna portion of the Arroyo to the north of Pasadena, is relieved that the restoral of the southern portion may soon actually begin.

“It is a benefit to have a Senator who is familiar with and who appreciates the importance of the Arroyo Seco,” he said.

“Our organization is grateful once again that Portantino has stepped up on our behalf. I am looking forward to seeing how these resources are going to be allocated and am very optimistic that South Pasadena and Pasadena will cooperate with the activist community on the best utilization plan.”