Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield proposed Wednesday that a pilot program be created to focus on enforcement and cleanup along portions of the Los Angeles River in the West San Fernando Valley.

Blumenfield introduced a motion that says “recent drug and gang activity appears to have increased in the river area, resulting in at lease one homicide,” and that residents have reported “significant problem areas” along the river from Canoga Park to Reseda, citing evidence of drug use, crime, homeless encampments and other unsanitary conditions.

“Additionally, the use of the river paths and adjacent areas for habitation could potentially be the cause of increased bacterial loads on recreation zone days in the areas where water quality is regularly tested,” Blumenfield’s motion says.

The councilman pointed to sampling that took place July 23-25 along the river between Canoga Park and Reseda that showed a fivefold spike in the levels of E. Coli found in the Middle Sepulveda Basin and the Elysian Valley kayak zones, which he said could be caused by illegal dumping.

Blumenfield said a problem in solving the issues is that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the County Flood Control District and various Los Angeles city departments have jurisdiction over enforcement of the river, and there isn’t a unified command.

He suggested that the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority, one of the lead agencies on the Los Angeles River, take responsibility for directing the pilot program.

Calls to the MRCA were not immediately returned, but officials from Blumenfield’s office said they’ve been coordinating with the organization for some time on the proposed program.

“We have made progress toward improving conditions along the L.A. River in our area in collaboration with Councilman Blumenfield, but we need a unified enforcement entity for the river,” said Evelyn Aleman, co-founder of the L.A. River Walkers and Watchers, an organization that’s been involved with river issues for years.

Although the city’s Los Angeles River Master Plan proposes tens of millions of dollars for creating parks and improvements, Blumenfield said more must be done to ensure its preservation.

“…To provide the best value to the public, these investments must be well-planned and include practical solutions to environmental and other hazards and nuisances that will prevent the river vision from fully being realized,” the councilman said.

The motion will initially be considered by the City Council’s Health, Education, Neighborhood, Parks, Arts and River Committee.

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