Sunday, December 30, 2012

If You Clean It, They Will Come

I recently read in the Simi Valley Acorn that the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District (“RSRPD”) has been awarded a $900,000 grant from Prop 84 funds for use in its on-going, multi-year project to “beautify” the Arroyo Simi so that it becomes “a place locals might actually want to hang out.”  In addition to the Prop 84 grant, both RSRPD and the City of Simi Valley have committed to chip in additional funding to complete Phase 2 of the beautification effort: the former will contribute $167,000 while the latter will contribute $150,000. These combined funds will be used to beautify the Arroyo Simi by paving two additional stretches along the south side of the watercourse: from Erringer Road to First Street and from Madera Road to Stargaze Place. Additional amenities in the form of “easy to access” trail entries at Madera Road and Stargaze Place, along with new signalized crossings will also be constructed.
I’m not really certain how more concrete along the channel, particularly its south side, will serve to make the arroyo more beautiful. I also question why cementing additional segments adjacent to the channel is viewed as a priority when the path is already paved and/or asphalted along the north side of the channel from Madera Road to Sequoia Avenue.  

If you’ve spent any time down by the arroyo, you’ve recognized that one of the biggest problems from an aesthetic standpoint is not an absence of cement, or even the vagrants that sometimes congregate there, but the accumulation of trash and other detritus that flows into the arroyo from a variety of sources. From soccer balls to broken bottles to old tires to shopping carts, this garbage is fouling the watercourse, negatively impacting wildlife habitat, and reinforcing the widely-held perception that the arroyo is simply an ugly place to be avoided.

So, if the RSRPD and the City of Simi Valley really want to beautify the Arroyo Simi, and give more than mere lip service to the “arroyo’s environmental importance to local wildlife,” it would seem that perhaps they should start with the lowest hanging fruit and spend some of that Prop 84 grant money actually cleaning up the existing mess.  That, more than anything else, will go a long way toward making the arroyo an attractive place that folks “might actually want to hang out.”

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