March 24, 2022

An Echo Park for All

Echo Park Lake is truly one of LA’s crown jewels. With a long history, the lake remains one of the great public gathering places for all Angelenos. In many ways, Echo Park Lake is a potent symbol for the very best of Los Angeles.

Yet the lake also reflects some of the more troubling aspects of our shared past. From the over-policing and disinvestment of Echo Park’s historically diverse, working class neighborhood, to the displacement that has recently pushed many longtime households out, Echo Park Lake also embodies the painful shortcomings of our city.

Mitch O’Farrell caused Echo Park Lake’s problems

One of the lake’s darkest hours, however, is far from ancient history. One year ago today, CD13 Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell ordered the forced removal of unhoused residents from Echo Park Lake, leading to the arrests of hundreds and more than $2 million of taxpayer money wasted on the LAPD response.

That anyone sleeps on a park bench or sidewalk is both a policy and moral failing by the city. The solution is permanent housing and supporting services—not LAPD and fences. 

Not only did very few displaced individuals actually receive permanent housing, but the park was then closed for months, in the midst of the pandemic when open space was desperately needed.

While Echo Park Lake has re-opened, that the fence remains in place one year later is wrong. It is a needless impediment to Angelenos wanting to enjoy one of our greatest assets, and a tragic monument to Mitch O’Farrell’s brutal—and costly—deployment of LAPD to forcibly remove unhoused Angelenos from the park.

The fence also causes safety concerns, as paramedics need to be able to easily access the park if there are any emergencies. And it makes it harder for neighbors with mobility challenges to easily enter a park that equally belongs to them.

On my first day in office, I will do whatever is necessary to see that the fence is promptly removed. But we must also go further.

Kate Pynoos’s plan for Echo Park Lake

It’s time to start treating the park as the gem that it is. We need to emphasize accessibility and equity for all Angelenos—residents, visitors, pedestrians, and vendors alike. Here are some changes to Echo Park Lake and the surrounding areas I will champion if elected to Council!

  • Make the park more accessible to neighbors who walk to and from the park by investing in ramps and adding new crosswalks. 

  • Change the rangers’ patrols from in trucks to on foot. 

  • Do more to support the thriving street vendor community through full legalization, small business grants, public health and safety education programs

  • Invest in more programming—like art walks, for example—in the park and on the surrounding streets around the park.

  • Address the speeding issues along Glendale through traffic calming measures and implement improvements outlined in the 2035 Mobility Plan.

  • Allocate resources to the regular cleaning, staffing, and maintenance of the restrooms so they are clean and safe to access 24/7.

  • In collaboration with homeless service providers, increase homeless outreach and engagement staff in the area to ensure we are connecting individuals with pathways to permanent housing and the services they need to regain personal stability.