Rio de Los Angeles (Los Angeles River) State Park, which opened to the public on Earth Day 2007, was the first new state park to open in Los Angeles in a generation. The park is located near downtown Los Angeles in an area of the City that had been lacking in parks and recreational uses. Rio de Los Angeles State Park is also known as Taylor Yard, which is the name of an industrial use—a railroad freight switching facility—formerly located on the site.
Unlike typical asphalt parking areas, the parking lot at Rio de Los Angeles State Park is aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly. The lot is landscaped with native plants and has permeable pavers/porous concrete, vegetated swales, and infiltration areas. Rather than using engineered infrastructure such as concrete pipes and culverts to rapidly funnel unfiltered water to the nearby Los Angeles River, the parking lot aims to restore the natural hydrological character of the site and to retain water where it falls. The vegetated swales, which replace traditional pipe networks, serve as open drainage ways that filter and treat pollutants and sediment in runoff.
Where better to employ Low Impact Development strategies than in the place visitors first experience when they arrive at a park: the parking lot?