There is a movement in Los Angeles to bring the Los Angeles River back to a more natural state by breaking up the famous concrete riverbed. This hazy, simplistic watercourse re-development plan reeks of geo-physical Denialism as well as Green Utopianism and in the end is dangerous. Instead, the river basin should be home to an innovative Hypo-Loop system and all the good it could do for the L.A. basin’s environment and economy.

Stimulated by the City of Los Angeles, a number of firms are dabbling with an idealist natural channel design imagery when trying to promote re-naturalization of the Los Angeles River. Should they succeed in convincing voters that such a de-constructive mega-project plan is wise, then those working and living beside the River will become more endangered, subject to Nature’s unbridled rapid water outflows as in the historic past. 

The river plan is like the game of Jenga, invented during the early-1970s, in which Jenga players, taking turns, remove one rectangular block from the lowest part of the stack (de-stabilization) and places it on the top of the stack (more de-stabilization) until a player’s imprudence causes a stack to collapse. Removal of the concreted bed and embankments of the Los Angeles River would be irresponsible. In fact, removal could cause a prospective regional economy-collapsing flood-water event-process of major economic impact, possibly affecting all Southern California.

Internationally famed architect Frank Gehry, who once endorsed large-scale alterations to the present-day concrete bed of the Los Angeles River, seems to have shifted somewhat because of his realization of the enormous potential for risks, economic and public-health, which would follow Jenga-like natural channel design civil engineering. 

The environmentalist’s passionate proclivities centered on their preferred Green icon, the non-Pacific entire reach of the Los Angeles River, are frightening. Gehry seems to have become worried that such Green environmentalist desires pose a future threat in the way of negligence litigation which may become focused entirely on professionalized architecture, his personal field of economic endeavor. At last report, Gehry had suggested cantilevered offices, apartments and condominiums projected over some selected parts of the still-concreted Los Angeles River’s potential turmoiled future runoffs; unlike bridge piers, cantilevered structures won’t impede downstream water flows to the Pacific Ocean and, thus, cannot cause back-flooding upstream.

The Los Angeles River is not, as those Green imagery-focused progressives project, a “lost” river absent from citizenry gaze. Instead, it is a known destructive flowing fluid element, a sporadically rampaging watercourse that damages and destroys vast swaths of costly-to-replace infrastructure while also endangering, sometimes killing, the Basin’s vulnerable humans. In addition, potential region-specific sea-level rise will surely affect the mouth of the Los Angeles River, its adjacent seaports as well as its surrounding urban and industrial infrastructures. Thus, more nuisance downhill runoff flooding or permanent sea-level rise-induced seawater inundation requires more protective infrastructures, certainly not the Green Progressive-desired removal of expensive extant people and property protections.

Rather than going back to a dangerous situation with the LA River, we at Burbank-based GEOGRAPHOS, since 1969 a geographic consultancy, foresee a truly modern 21st Century use for the geologically known ground finally sealed since 1969 beneath the concreted Los Angeles River as a primary route for one or more Hypo-Loop tunnels linking the two containership port infrastructures with the upgraded and fully operational International Airport located at the City of Palmdale and, perhaps, even beyond to the State of Nevada with its capacious built warehousing facilities.

GEOGRAPHOS suggests that Los Angeles County taxpayers demand the removal of most air-polluting heavy-duty truck traffic from over-crowded, increasingly dilapidated local freeways; to cause nil construction geo-physical results on the landscape and wildlife through Hypo-Loop tunneling. Such mining would be an invisible emplacement underground—below—the undisturbed, still concreted, Los Angeles River. 

Organization and institutionalization of a cannular Hypo-Loop conveyance corridor, possibly commenced near the City of Hawthorne, would serve as an influential urban renewal catalyst in the Los Angeles River Basin. In effect, Hypo-Loop might easily become beloved as a necessary, and long overdue, practical economic re-generation of the famed Pacific Electric Railway system of Los Angeles County’s yesteryear! (Many planners remain unaware that Pacific Electric Railway was a freight-hauler in addition to passenger conveyer.) 

So, let’s all ignore the green dream of a potentially disastrous “Jenga” plans. Rather, we ought to play a bigger re-developmental political game—regional LEGO-like mega-project planning on an appropriate geographical scale.