A Charrette for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works

In August 2000, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works announced the creation of a new Watershed Management Division, among whose goals are the promotion of progressive watershed policies, the encouragement of research and the dissemination of information. Shortly afterward, interest developed in transforming the department's own Alhambra headquarters parking lot from an urban heat island into a demonstration of watershed best management practices (BMPs).

The department turned to TreePeople to organize and lead an ad hoc team to generate designs and enthusiasm for the parking lot retrofit. At two intensive sessions, teams of department engineers, landscape architects and TreePeople consultants set criteria for the parking lot retrofit, then produced a series of designs to meet them. At a public presentation of the work, then DPW Assistant Director Don Wolfe praised the teams' efforts and wholeheartedly endorsed the retrofit project.

A necessary earthquake retrofit of the department’s headquarters caused implementation delays and the project has yet to be realized. But, when it is, it will bring the lot into compliance with Standard Urban Stormwater Mitigation Plan (SUSMP) regulations, which require the retention and treatment of a storm's first 3/4" of precipitation. More importantly, it will be a testing ground for new watershed management techniques and a classroom for potential implementers. It will also be a much nicer place to park.

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