River Design Guidelines

In 2014, the City of Los Angeles established the River Improvement Overlay ("RIO") District (Ordinance No. 183,145), establishing the city's first ever set of development regulations and standards for developments within river or tributary adjacent areas throughout Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles River Design Guidelines highlight best practices for designing development projects to increase awareness of, and access to, the Los Angeles River. By offering more direction for proceeding with the design of a project located within the RIO District, the Guidelines illustrate options, solutions, and techniques to improve the aesthetic quality of the River and its surrounding communities; increase the availability of publicly accessible open space; and effectively utilize public rights-of-way as locations to capture and treat stormwater.

The Purpose of this document is to:

  • Communicate the river design qualities expected of development within the RIO District.
  • Facilitate the fair and consistent application of river friendly design objectives;
  • Protect investment within the RIO District by encouraging consistently high-quality development;
  • Foster a sense of community and encourage pride of ownership;
  • Establish a positive interface with the River and the Greenway thereby integrating the River into the daily life of the City;
  • Promote pedestrian and other multi-modal connections to the River and thereby extend the City to and across the River; and
  • Reduce the amount of untreated runoff entering the River and its tributaries

The provisions set forth in this document identify the desired level of design quality for all developments within the Los Angeles RIO District. Projects within the RIO District are encouraged to incorporate these guidelines and best practices into the project design. Refer to the Ordinance and Fact Sheet for further information on the River Improvement Overlay District and the County's Landscaping Guidelines and Plant Palettes on the Los Angeles River Master Plan.