LOZ FELIZ—The Los Feliz Neighborhood Council is considering a resolution to open the Rowena Reservoir to the public after being closed off for nearly 20 years. The reservoir, originally a water quality improvement project, has been described as a Garden of Eden with a beautiful built-in lagoon, palm trees, and walkways.

The idea of opening the reservoir has been met with opposition by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and some residents. The LADWP has barred the Rowena Reservoir from public access due to safety concerns warning about the dangers of high-voltage electrical and other equipment related to the reservoir.

In the resolution, the LFNC indicated to the LADWP and Los Angeles City Councilman that “We could easily raise a new fence, of the same height as the current one, around the equipment. With the equipment contained behind new, smaller enclosures, we could grant the public safe access to the footpaths around the ponds, and nothing else. (Barbed wire, which was mentioned by LADWP officials as a prerequisite during the meeting, is clearly not necessary, as it is not used in any of the currently-existing fencing.)”

A survey given to 230 residents revealed that 89 percent, of which were in
support of opening the reservoir to the public, including a supermajority of voters (71 percent) who live within 1⁄2 mile of the reservoir. The LFNC indicated that 57 percent of residents within 1⁄2 mile of the Rowena Reservoir drive when they go to a park, and visit parks frequently.

“If the Reservoir were opened up, almost no one (4%) within 1⁄2 mile would drive to it. Even outside of 1⁄2 mile, the numbers are stark: the 50% who currently drive to the nearest park drops to 33% if Rowena is opened,” stated the LFNC in the resolution.

Those opposed to the idea of opening the Rowena Reservoir to the public fear public access could drawn in pollution, more traffic, and transient people.

“My support would be conditional. If L.A. is going to allow it to become a tent city for the homeless, I’d rather it stayed closed,” said one person to Eastsider L.A.

The Rowena Reservoir was not intended to be a park, and the LADWP indicated to the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council when the current construction started 20 years ago, the public did not push for the property to be accessible.

“However, the LFNC has heard reports from community members at the time of the
retrofit who did lobby to have Rowena transformed into a park. Additionally, the
community has not been consulted on the status of the property in the last 20 years.
Residents new and old rightfully desire an opportunity to weigh in on their preference
that the reservoir be opened as a park,” states the LFNC in the resolution.

The LFNC does not have the authority to decide if the reservoir is granted access to the public.

Written By Christianne McCormick and Donald Roberts