News Feature | July 18, 2016

Los Angeles Builds Green Alleys For Stormwater Capture

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

losangeles reg new

Los Angeles officials want to transform the city’s paved alleyways into spaces that can collect rainwater, following examples set by Seattle and Chicago, among other cities.

“Of the roughly 300,000 acres in the city of Los Angeles, more than 2,000 are alleyways that cut through city blocks. And because they’re mostly paved, they do little to capture one of the city’s most prized resources: water,” The New York Times reported.

The aim is to reconstruct paved alleyways as green spaces. The project will help support the state’s goal of increasing stormwater capture from 8.8 billion gallons to 50 billion by 2035. Drought resilience and water quality improvement are benefits of the project.

“After a year in which Californians cut water use by 25 percent, stormwater has become the next front in what amounts to a fundamental restructuring of Southern California’s relationship with its intricate water network,” The New York Times previously reported.

City planning has typically focused on flood-prevention rather than stormwater capture.

“Something that was once viewed as a nuisance is now seen as a necessity,” said Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, per the report. “We haven’t done enough.”

Heather Repenning, a commissioner of the city’s Board of Public Works explained: “In my mind, the green alley project has a much greater value in Los Angeles than it does in other places that don’t have a water shortage.”

The Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit supporting the project, cited the following benefits:

  • Light colored paving to reduce the heat island effect.
  • Crosswalk striping, lights, and signage to encourage pedestrian use and increase workability.
  • Native and drought-tolerant planting to help green and beautify the neighborhood.

The project also benefits the city by bringing open spaces to jam-packed neighborhoods. “Los Angeles County has 3.3 acres of public space per 1,000 people, and South Los Angeles only about half an acre,” the Times reported, citing a countywide report on parks.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Stormwater Management Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Los Angeles Skyline in the rain" Rod Ramsey © 2008, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: