Green Infrastructure for Los Angeles: Addressing Urban Runoff and Water Supply through Low Impact Development

This report was designed to help the City of Los Angeles use low impact development (LID) techniques to address water quality, flood control, and climate change issues. LID is a strategy for managing stormwater runoff that uses natural drainage features to capture and filter urban runoff. From an environmental standpoint, LID reduces water pollution, replenishes aquifers, and encourages water reuse. From an adaptation standpoint, LID reduces stress on water supply and can provide shade trees, helping to reduce urban heat islands. LID techniques that apply to the transportation sector include using vegetated and permeable pavers, porous pavements, curb bump-outs, curb cuts, tree wells, and other green streets measures. Collectively, the report refers to these policies as street and alley best management practices (BMPs).  The Los Angeles Board of Public Works separately developed a set of guidelines among best management practices.

In Part I, the report provides case studies and examples of other jurisdictions that have implemented LID projects and passed regulations or laws requiring LID. Examples include: Prince George’s County LID Urban Retrofit Program; Maryland Stormwater Act of 2007; Seattle’s Street Edge Alternatives Project; Portland’s NE Siskiyou Green Street Project; Chicago’s Green Alley Program, Stormwater Ordinance and BMP Guide; City of Ventura’s Green Streets Policy. Specifically, the report provides case studies of several LID initiatives underway in LA, including the Green Streets LA program and several pilot projects implemented by the LA Board of Public Works. The Green Streets LA program was designed to integrate LID into LA’s infrastructure programs and construction standards. Several city departments whose policy portfolios relate to street infrastructure are represented on a Green Streets Committee.

This committee developed a preliminary design guideline for Green Streets projects in 2008. Los Angeles also implemented several Green Streets pilot projects, including projects on Oros Street and Riverdale Avenue. The Oros Street project utilizes bio-retention areas in the street parkway and a large infiltration basin underneath a nearby park. The $1 million project was funded through a collaboration of the City of Los Angeles’s Bureau of Street Services and the Watershed Protection Division of the Bureau of Sanitation. The Riverdale Avenue project used infiltration planters of drought-tolerant native plants to infiltrate and capture stormwater and urban runoff from 14 acres of residential land, and was funded with a $500,000 grant from the California Coastal Commission, with in-kind design support from the City of Los Angeles.

Part II of the report discusses strategies for implementing LID. This section includes strategies for funding LID including: municipal bonds, in-lieu fees, stormwater pollution abatement charges, parking increment financing through fees collected at parking meters, special benefit assessment districts, grants, and public-private partnerships. The report provides examples of laws and ordinances passed at both the state and local levels that promote LID, and also discusses strategies for codifying LID.


This Adaptation Clearinghouse entry was prepared with support  from the Federal Highway Administration. This entry was last updated on December 29, 2014.


Publication Date: April 17, 2009

Author or Affiliated User:

  • Haan-Fawn Chau

Related Organizations:

  • City of Los Angeles, California


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Best practice

States Affected:


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