PLACE Website

PLACE Program
3530 Wilshire Blvd, 8th Floor,
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 351-7825
Pacoima Beautiful

What is Pacoima Beautiful’s mission?
What are the goals of the Pacoima Beautiful PLACE Initiative?
Who are the Initiative partners and what are their roles?
What has the Initiative accomplished so far?
What technical assistance has been provided for this Initiative?
Who do I contact for more information about this Initiative?

What is Pacoima Beautiful’s Mission?

Pacoima Beautiful is a non-profit community-based organization dedicated to environmental health and justice. The mission of Pacoima Beautiful is to empower community members through programs that provide environmental education, advocacy, and local leadership in order to foster a healthy and safe environment. As such, community engagement is a high priority for the organization.

What are the Goals of the Pacoima Beautiful PLACE Initiative?

Vision Plan: Pacoima Beautiful and its partners are developing a vision plan for the section of the Pacoima Wash located within Los Angeles city limits, in the communities of Pacoima and Sylmar. The plan will outline concepts for revitalizing the Pacoima Wash as a recreational amenity that includes bike and pedestrian trails and enhances connectivity to parks and open space such as the Angeles National Forest.

An aerial view of the Pacoima Wash, the proposed revitalization project for the initiative.

Policy Change: The City of Los Angeles is in the process of updating land use plans for nine of its 35 communities to guide growth and development in the City’s neighborhoods. One goal of the PLACE initiative is to incorporate language about a revitalized Pacoima Wash into the Sylmar and the Arleta-Pacoima Community Plan Updates. This will provide long-term guidance regarding land use that promotes active living for community residents.

Physical Project: Initiative partners are in the process of assessing community needs as the first step in selecting a specific physical project related to the Pacoima Wash Vision Plan. The Pacoima community is currently served by only 54.3 acres of park space. As part of the aligned physical project, the plan envisions a greenway of parks and trails that will promote physical activity and community pride along the Pacoima Wash. The physical project will be completed during the third year of the initiative.

Who are the Initiative Partners and What are Their Roles?

Initiative Coordinator: Max Podemski is the Initiative Coordinator for the Pacoima Beautiful initiative and provides oversight for the daily activities of the initiative. Partners collaborate with community residents, youth, community-based organizations and government partners to achieve the initiative’s goals.

City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning: The City Planning Department is responsible for developing and implementing the City of Los Angeles General Plan. The City provides advice and guidance for the Pacoima Wash initiative as it drafts language for the Sylmar Community Plan and the Arleta-Pacoima Community Plan Updates.

Los Angeles City Council District 7: Councilmember Richard Alarcón helped ensure that the Los Angeles River Masterplan acknowledges the value and role of the watersheds in the San Fernando Valley and that it incorporates a revitalization strategy to make these creeks and tributaries true assets to Valley residents. Councilmember Alarcón is actively pursuing park development projects in support of the river greening effort.

The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) is a local government public entity comprised of two park districts and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. The MRCA provides technical assistance to the Pacoima Wash initiative for the analysis, design, and development of the planning and landscape elements of the vision plan and physical project.

ICON (Initiating Change in Our Neighborhoods) is a non-profit dedicated to economic development through community involvement. ICON plans and hosts community meetings and focus groups and conducts outreach for the initiative.

The Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) is the community assistance arm of the National Park Service. RTCA provides valuable technical support for developing trails and greenways along the Pacoima Wash.

What has the Initiative Accomplished so Far?

Language for the Sylmar Community Plan: Concept language regarding the Pacoima Wash Vision Plan was submitted to the City of Los Angeles for input into the Sylmar Community Plan. The document was based on the field assessment described below and on the input of initiative partners, community members, and the Technical Advisory Group. It presents the Wash as an opportunity for more active living with the potential to reduce health problems among residents. It describes design elements including a multi-use path and bike lanes; trail amenities; way finding and interpretive elements; accessible open space; habitat restoration areas; green streets; Best Management Practices for handling stormwater; new or enhanced greenway bridges; and enhanced street crossings over the Wash.

Focus Group Meetings: The initiative is conducting focus groups in both English and Spanish throughout Pacoima and Sylmar to elicit ideas from community residents and stakeholders for the Pacoima Wash Vision Plan. Community groups in these two cities proactively engage residents to participate in the focus group sessions, and participants have included parent groups at local schools, neighborhood councils, clubs, and youth groups. A Spanish/English brochure was also developed to inform community residents about the Pacoima Wash Vision Plan and was distributed at the focus group sessions.

Participants from Youth United Towards Environmental Protection (YUTEP) provide their input during a focus group session.

Technical Advisory Group (TAG): The initiative convenes a TAG to provide guidance on the development of the Vision Plan. Each member’s expertise in areas of city planning, parks and trails, river revitalization, habitat restoration and wildlife protection is critical to the ultimate success of the Vision Plan. TAG Members include:

  • L.A. River advocates and local community-based organizations
  • Los Angeles County Departments, such as Department of Public Works
  • City of LA Departments, such as Recreation and Parks, Transportation, and Planning
  • City of LA Council District 7
  • The Army Corps of Engineers
  • The Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles

Field Assessment: The Initiative Coordinator and the MRCA Policy Analyst conducted a field assessment by walking along key sections of the Pacoima Wash to inventory features, barriers, and opportunities. Findings from this assessment were incorporated into the concept language for the Sylmar Community Plan, and will inform the Vision Plan as a whole.

Site Visits: The Initiative Coordinator visited greenway projects in Los Angeles County, Northern California, and New York City and met with designers and organizers to learn from their experiences. Key lessons included outreach, design, implementation, and maintenance of community greenways. Ideas from site visits have informed the Initiative Partners and been included in language for the Sylmar Community Plan.

What Technical Assistance has been Provided for this Initiative?
This section of the Wash at Ritchie Valens Park is one of the many areas where field assessments were conducted.

Mia Lehrer and Associates: This planning and consulting group attended TAG and community meetings and developed renderings, sections, and drawings of landscape features depicting a revitalized Pacoima Wash. These graphics were included in the concept language for the Sylmar Community Plan provided to the City of L.A., were incorporated in the initiative brochure, and are used during focus groups to help elicit community feedback. The consultant has also developed maps to show locations of planned trails and other greenway elements to be improved.

Who do I Contact for More Information About this Initiative?

For more information about this initiative, please visit the Pacoima Beautiful website or email Max Podemski, Initiative Coordinator for the Pacoima Beautiful PLACE Initiative:

Example of a rendering by Mia Lehrer and Associates showing the proposed Maclay Street Greenway.
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