Design, Policy, & Planning


The reports, studies, and tools listed here are instrumental for interpreting natural resources in the Los Angeles region, and for advancing regenerative planning, policy, design, and continuing research.



California Rivers and Streams: The Conflict between Fluvial Process and Land Use

Jeffrey Mount (Berkeley / Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995)

An overview of the physical and biological processes that shape the state’s rivers and watersheds. Covers the basics of hydrology and geomorphology and evaluates the impact on waterways of different land use practices. Described as “A thinking persons guide to the physical processes behind the problems of managing California’s river and streams.”

Estimating Spatially and Temporally Varying Recharge and Runoff from Precipitation and Urban Irrigation in the Los Angeles Basin, California

Joseph A. Hevesi  and Tyler D. Johnson (US Geological Survey [USGS] 2016)

Modeling of rainfall and runoff across the Los Angeles Basin with comprehensive inventory, finding on average: (1) evapotranspiration accounts for the greatest loss from the water cycle at approximately 1,479,308 acre-feet a year (AFY), runoff at 593,529 AFY, and recharge at 183,031 AFY.

Green Infrastructure Manual for Desert Communities

Watershed Management Group

Los Angeles is not a desert, but the Watershed Management Group in Tucson, AZ is an extensively practiced and definitive source on nature-based solutions for water management in flashy systems like ours.

Historical Ecology and Landscape Change of the San Gabriel River and Floodplain

Eric Stein, Shawna Dark, Travis Longcore, Nicholas Hall, Michael Beland, Robin Grossing, Jason Casanova, Martha Sutula 2007

Covering San Gabriel River morphology and associated cover over time, with characteristics that translate to other braided channel systems of the LA Basin including the Los Angeles River.

Living Streets GUide And Studies

Heal the Bay, Green LA Coalition, and Climate Resolve 2015

Guide and series of reports on best practices, policy, and feasibility for implementing living streets—an integration of green, cool, and complete streets.

Los Angeles Basin Study

US Bureau of Reclamation and LA County Flood Control District 2016

Comprehensive evaluation of runoff from different climate models, and project alternatives to address climate adaptation. Key points include river reclamation as a leading regional solution, and the significant potential for distributed projects to address flood management and water supply.

[NEW] Measuring the Benefits of DistrIbuted, Nature-Based Stormwater Projects

The River Project 2018

Cost-benefit review of distributed, nature-based projects.

Model Design Manual for Living Streets

Ryan Snyder Associates and Transportation Planning for Livable Communities (Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs 2011)

Comprehensive guidance on living streets serving as a template for inclusion and adoption by agencies and organizations.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond

Brad Lancaster

Leading guides for regenerative, practical, and hands-on water capture, conservation, and reuse.

Seeking Streams: A Landscape Framework for Urban and Ecological Revitalization in the Upper Ballona Creek Watershed

Brian Braa, Jessica Hall, Chiung-Chen Lian, and Greg McCollum

Inventory of creeks in the Ballona Creek watershed, including process and insights for identifying urban creeks and streams in other areas.

Water Augmentation Study and Water Augmentation Study Final Project Report

Council for Watershed Health 2014 and 2016

Monitoring study started in 2000 that has evaluated the groundwater quality impacts of stormwater capture projects. A gold standard in research and evaluation, demonstrating that capture projects are net positive for water quality, even at a heavy industrial site.

Water la 2018 Report

The River Project 2018

Overview, findings, and recommendations from the Water LA program pilot completed in 2014 including plan and policy resources.

The Water-Wise Home: How to Conserve, Capture, and Reuse Water in Your Home and Landscape

Laura Allen 2015

Hands-on comprehensive guide for greywater reuse, rainwater harvesting, and waterless toilets at home.

Whitepaper on the Use of Financial Incentives for Stormwater Fees in Los Angeles County

Michael Drennan, Richard Haimann, Adi Liberman, Blake Murillo, Richard Watson, and Melanie Winter (Coalition for Our Water Future 2015)

A response to the 2013 Clean Water/Clean Beaches Measure proposed parcel fee, exploring potential incentives for managing stormwater on private property.


Plants and Ecology

The State of California is home to approximately 6,500 known native plant species and subspecies, about 30% of which are endemic.

Los Angeles County is part of a recognized biodiversity hotspot for both the impressive diversity and significant challenges faced by local plants and the wildlife that relies upon them: over 400 known endemic species of plants and animals make their homes here, many of which are threatened and endangered.

Often quoted, in 1989 Faber et al. estimated at the time that 90-95% of all historical riparian areas in Southern California have been lost. Beyond the value of rarity alone, riparian areas are foundational corridors in arid regions supporting many species across land cover types, more than any other habitat in our region.

The Cal-IPC Inventory

California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC)

The definitive source on California invasive plants.


California Native Plant Society (CNPS)

Inventory of native plants, profiles, and conditions relevant to plant material by specific location (elevation, precipitation, average high and low temps).

Terrestrial Target Species for Habitat Conservation Planning

Diego Martino, Christine Lam, and Travis Longcore (Green Visions Plan for 21st Century Southern California 2005)

Methods for targeting species for conservation.

A Manual of California Vegetation

John O. Sawyer, Todd Keeler-Wolf, and Julie Evens (California Native Plant Society 2009)

Index of plant associations across California that is the basis for our State-recognized vegetation classification system.

Native Plant Gardens for Schools and Urban Areas: A Survival Guide

Betsy Landis 2009

Brief primer on planting and caring for native plants, with list of native plant nurseries.

Partners in Flight Bird Conservation Plans, California

Partners in Flight

Resource on avian species at the flyway scale, addressing habitat and bioregions down to specific species profiles that are comprehensive and peer-reviewed.

San Gabriel River Plant List

Bart O'Brien 2007

One of the best lists for appropriate (and inappropriate) local vegetation cover in riparian and adjacent upland areas in the LA Basin. The LA River shares many of the same geophysical conditions as the San Gabriel River, and the lists translate well.

Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants

Resource for native plant care and guidance, sales, classes, and an annual native plant garden tour.

Water Use Classification of Landscape Species (WUCOLS) IV

Larry Costello and Katherine Jones 2014

Comprehensive peer-reviewed inventory of water use by plant species, with guidance relevant to California Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO).



Overview of the ARkStorm Scenario

Keith Porter et. al. (US Geological Survey [USGS] 2011)

Study evaluating the ARkStorm: the Atmospheric River 1,000-year event (similar to the storms and resulting floods of 1861 and 1862). As compared with the severe earthquake scenario “Great ShakeOut”, the flood impact is projected to be just as likely to occur and could cost on the order of $725 billion, which is nearly 3 times the loss.

U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters

US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 2018

Estimates that climate-related disasters cost the US $306B in 2017.

National Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report: An Independent Study

Multihazard Mitigation Council (The National Institute of Building Sciences 2017)

Proactive management is key. Evaluation of 23 years of federally funded mitigation grants and finding that the nation can save $6 in future disaster costs for every $1 spent on hazard mitigation.