The Pacoima Wash Initiative is a collaborative effort between community residents, youth, community-based organizations, and government agencies and local elected officials from Sylmar, Arleta, and Pacoima to adopt an action plan for the restoration of the Pacoima Wash. The Initiative was made possible by a Los Angeles County PLACE Grant and has been coordinated for the past three years by Max Podemski. The Pacoima Wash is a 10 mile flood control channel constructed in the 1940’s. It begins at the Pacoima Dam in the San Gabriel Mountains and ends at the Arleta Spreading Grounds. The Wash snakes through the LA communities of Sylmar, Pacoima, and the City of San Fernando. The Wash has the potential to provide 10.5 miles of parks, bike and walking paths for one of the most park deprived areas of the City.
The initiative will create a Vision Plan for areas of the Wash located within LA city limits, specifically in the community of Pacoima. Through the initiative, residents, youth, and collaborative partners identified sites, evaluated compatibility, environmental hazards and impacts and physical safety, and created a framework for a recreation area that meets the recreation and physical activity needs of the community.
The goal of the Pacoima Wash initiative is to turn a dead space which has become an eyesore into a valuable community asset and in turn help alleviate the severe environmental conditions in the neighborhood. We are currently in the process of conducting a physical assessment of the Wash and working with the community and government officials to develop a plan for restoring it. The long-term goal is to develop park space along the Wash and revise the city zoning to have more compatible uses along it. Pacoima Beautiful has assembled a diverse coalition to champion this project including: The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, Los Angeles Planning Department, Councilmember Felipe Fuentes, Congressmember Tony Cardenas, Councilwoman Nury Martinez, State Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra, State Senator Alex Padilla, and City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works Commissioner Barbara Romero.
For more information about our Pacoima Wash work, contact Max Podemski at (818) 899-2454 ext.102
The Pacoima Urban Greening Plan was funded through an Urban Greening Grant from the California Strategic Growth Council awarded to Pacoima Beautiful in 2011. This plan focuses on the central portion of the neighborhood of Pacoima in the City of Los Angeles, one of the most park poor and environmentally impacted areas in California. The goal of this grant is to address the most pressing issues of concern in this community; mobility, open space, the environment, and health. This document was produced through a collaborative process linking robust community outreach with professionals in urban planning, landscape architecture and environmental science.
An estimated one of every three residents in Pacoima does not have consistent access to a car. Pacoima Beautiful is working with residents and other allies to realize complete streets infrastructure investments and promote safe, convenient, comfortable and interesting conditions for every mode.
Pacoima Beautiful is engaged in three strategies for change:
- Community Design and Long-term Vision: Residents participate and lead input gathering on current conditions and priorities through design workshops, surveys and walk audits to build towards a safer, comfortable and inviting Pacoima. This feedback will guide future planning decisions and inform potential projects.
- Civic Engagement and Advocacy: We facilitate participation in the planning process through People’s Planning School, and staff collaboration with decision-makers and allies in pursuit of fair and community-appropriate infrastructure investments, such as Metro, The Los Angeles City Council and LADOT.
- Grassroots-driven Projects: While working towards longer-term investments and vision goals, we also create grassroots-driven projects, such as tree planting, public art installation, and events such as PARK(ing) Day.
The Bradley Plaza is a project in partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation for the People Street program. The project will convert one block of roadway on Bradley Avenue between Van Nuys Boulevard and the San Fernando Gardens into a Plaza. This Plaza will not only be an inviting public space but will be a hub for programing and service for a variety of local non-profits. One of the goals of the Bradley Plaza is to bring the existing services in the community to San Fernando Gardens Housing Development. The Gardens have a long history of crime and negative stigma associated with them and we believe that by bringing programming and resources, both the housing development and the surrounding residents can unite to create a stronger, more resilient Pacoima.
Construction is happening soon and the Plaza should be complete early 2015.
For the past 18 years, Pacoima Beautiful has worked with community members to identify and solve environmental health and safety issues. Together we have worked on issues related to the built environment, land-use and how those two factors affect our health. One issue that was brought forth by community members during our programming is the lack of access to affordable fresh produce for those living on limited incomes. Spaces such as community gardens provide access to healthy food however Pacoima, has a lack of open space where community gardens can exist in a centralized location that is accessible to all. Looking at this issue from a planning perspective acknowledging the rich culture of the Northeast San Fernando Valley, we knew there were other ways to go about addressing the issue. Walking through many of the residential streets, fruit trees are present in the front and back yards of homes. Fruits, vegetables and herbs can be seen year round. Sometimes the quanitity is so much that it ends up on sidewalks or residents will hang grocery bags filled with goods on their fence so that people walking past can take some with them.
Through a grant provided by the United States Department of Agriculture, Pacoima Beautiful embarked on a 6 month door to door surveying quest to gather data on home gardening. We asked survey participants to tell us if they were growing food and if they would be interested in sharing their food in a communal setting with other Pacoima residents.
Every first Saturday of the month we host a food swap and encourage community members to bring their surplus harvest from their fruit trees and vegetable/herb gardens to share with other members of the community. Our goal was to create a space where residents can come together once a month, to meet one another and trade their excess harvest to create a healthier, stronger community. We also supply workshops through our partners, plant giveaways and information to benefit the community. Together we will reduce our dependence on overpriced grocery chains, reduce food waste and get healthier all in our own community in a space we are calling Mercado Pacoima.
Mercado Pacoima takes place during the monthly Sustainable Saturday event at Pacoima Neighborhood City Hall. Sustainable Saturday is a collaborative effort through Pacoima Beautiful, Councilmember Felipe Fuentes, El Nido Family Centers, MEND, Sylmar High School and Fruta y Cultura. The goal is to provide access to resources that will contribute to living a healthier lifestyle.
Check out our events calendar to see our future events!