Access to urban river could increase value of surrounding real estate in Los Angeles

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that officially designates the Los Angeles river as an actual river rather than a flood control channel. Los Angeles County is now required to treat it as such, and the river will be accessible to the public starting January 1, 2013.

The bill states that "the Los Angeles County Flood Control Act to include in the objects and purposes of the district to provide for public use of navigable waterways under the district's control that are suitable for recreational and educational purposes, when these purposes are not inconsistent with the use thereof by the district for flood control and water conservation."

The designation could start the process of greening areas around the river, which may increase the value of houses for sale in Los Angeles in surrounding neighborhoods. According to the official site of the Friends of the Los Angeles River, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the urban river, encouraging appropriate use of reclaimed water for irrigation and recharge of aquifers will promote sustainable development in the region. The construction of open spaces in Los Angeles such as Spring State Park is a trend city officials hope will draw new residents to the area.

A study released by Economics Research Associates reports that urban parks and rivers can induce new development and improvement. Overall, lease and rental rates for urban units with views of open are valued at a premium; the rental premium from areas studied by the ERA ranged from 10 to 40 percent in case studies included in the report. Although many benefits are quantitative, the study points out that qualitative benefits such as improved quality of life, protection of the environment and increased pedestrian activity can increase citizen awareness and use of previously neglected areas. Homes for sale that offer convenient access to the river may increase in value if the river becomes a popular recreational destination for local residents in the community.

The addition of recreational features to the river can also increase the value of real estate in Los Angeles, since families are more likely to congregate in areas with open space and opportunities for outdoor recreation. The bill reiterates the LA County Flood Control Act, which gives the LA County Flood Control District the ability to raise money for river improvements, including the addition of recreational features to lands or interests in lands contiguous to its properties. The LA County Flood Control District also may collect admission or use fees for recreational features where deemed appropriate, according to the bill.