Sunday, January 30, 2011

Write up in the California Heights Newsletter

Thank you John and California Heights for the article in your newsletter and for organizing the clean up effort on February 19th. See you all there!

For the newsletter in its entirety please click here.

A Future for Willow Gulch?
Most of you have driven past Willow Gulch without giving it a glance. Why would you? From the street, there’s not much to see. Bounded by California, Orange, Spring and the cemetery along Willow, the 55 acre site is used primarily by Signal Hill Petroleum for access to oil wells and as a catch basin for 405 Freeway runoff. In 1933 it accommodated the rubble from hundreds of buildings that failed in the Long Beach earthquake, and more recently it was considered for the now defunct sports park, doomed by a lack of funding. The rusting Amerigas plant at Orange and Spring finally came
down last fall, and Sasha Kanno, of Wrigley Garden fame, is in the midst of cultivating a small urban farm on the site near 28th and California.
On December 11th, Councilmember Johnson invited active community members to tour the site, led by Larry Rich, City of Long Beach Sustainability Coordinator, who has been introducing locals to the history and future possibilities of Willow Gulch for the past several years. Once enveloped by the rolling nature of the property, we quickly lost sight of the city surrounding us and began to understand how the land could become a gem of an urban oasis where residents and visitors might escape the hustle and bustle of urban life. We learned that Willow Gulch got its name from a natural spring that ran to the LA River, lined the entire way with native willow trees. In fact, the area near the Willow Blue Line stop was home to a small farming community called Willowville, dubbed “Hicksville” by higher society Long Beach folks. To remove the stigma, the residents cut down the trees and eventually covered over the creek altogether. Today it lives on only in the names of Willow Avenue and Spring Street, where drivers speed by, oblivious to the history in their midst. The rolling topography and a steep hillside along the eastern edge that contains the second highest point in Long Beach were an expensive obstacle for the sports park. Uplifted by the Newport Inglewood fault, Willow Gulch rests along a chain of hills that stretch from Cal State Long Beach through Alamitos Heights and the inclines near PCH and Redondo, to Signal Hill, through Cal Heights and Bixby Knolls and off to Dominguez Hills. “Why flatten one of the most topographically interesting sites in our city?” asked Mr. Johnson. Limiting grading significantly reduces expenses while preserving the hills that lend shelter and unique character to our mostly flat cityscape.
We’ll keep you posted on progress for possible plans at Willow Gulch, where reduced activity has given rise to a young crop of willow trees already reestablishing themselves!
If you are interested in learning more, contact the 7th District Council Office at 570-7777.

Plan to join Cal Heights Clean Streets on February 19th as we dedicate our next quarterly
Saturday Clean Sweep to removing litter and debris here.Join Cal Heights Clean Streets for our quarterly Saturday Clean Sweep at Willow Gulch, with our 7th District Council Office and Litter Free Long Beach.
Volunteers will pick up litter and debris in and around the site. Community hours will be signed for, tools and refreshments will be provided and two lucky volunteers will win tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacific!
Litter Free Long Beach will also be collecting tires and e-waste - if it has a cord attached, it’s e-waste, excluding large appliances.
To join the Clean Streets email list visit, click on Clean Streets. Please wear sturdy shoes.
Parking will be limited so carpooling is recommended.