Cary Berglund, Dennis Lahti
ARCHIVAL VIDEO: The second year of paddle tours on the largely concrete-lined river have proved popular again. The Los Angeles Conservation Corp is organizing the summer tours set to begin tomorrow, but they are already sold out. Cary Berglund reports from Balboa Park for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 19, 2012.
Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that officially designates the Los Angeles River an actual river and not a flood control channel.
The designation change could expand public access and could begin the process of greening the areas around the river.
SB 1201, known as the LA River Access Bill, requires the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works' Flood Control District to manage the LA River as a river.
It had been classified as a "flood control channel."
The new desigation means the district has to "guarantee the public a right of access to the navigable waters" for education and recreation.
The agency will decide the timetable and where the public will have access that does not interfere with flood control or water conservation.
Leaders from the Friends' of the Los Angeles River authored the bill. On its website, the organization's president Lewis MacAdams said the bill means "the Los Angeles River is a river, not just a flood control channel; and must be treated that way by Los Angeles County."
"We should begin the process to green the river. We should bust up the concrete, to bust up the cement," said Senator Kevin De Leon, who carried the bill in the Senate. "It sends a clear message to the beaucrats at L.A. county who have stifled the progress."