There has been much ado about the Silver Lake Reservoir over the past few years as the historic namesake of this “tragically hip” neighborhood is poised to stand as a proxy in an ongoing cultural battle between public use and the sanctity of affluent neighborhoods.
A New Life for Silver Lake Reservoir
After having been emptied, retrofitted for a year, and then refilled and replaced with non-potable water as part of a federal law that outlawed open-air drinking water reservoirs, the future of the reservoir is the focus of a potentially heated debate.
Now that the reservoir no longer holds potable drinking water, and is instead a reservoir that houses part of the city’s supply of non-potable utility water, the body of water is now available to be used as a recreational park.
Potential Future Plans
Whereas the reservoir now sits behind an 8-foot tall, barbed wire fence, future plans could see the removal of such urban detractors and the installation of all manner of recreational features including beaches or docks, not unlike those found at nearby Echo Lake.
The members of the Refill Silver Lake Now organization along with the Silver Lake Forward and Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy were the active force behind efforts to get the reservoir refilled as quickly as possible. Some say this was done to reduce the likelihood of major changes to the structure, whereas it would’ve been less expensive to start making changes if the reservoir was empty.
As a member of the community myself, I can say that refilling the reservoir sooner rather than later was the right move for the area, especially as concerns the impact on the surrounding wildlife. As to whether changes to the complex would be harmful to the neighborhood, I am less certain, though I don’t doubt that it would create complications.
The Refill Silver Lake Now organization, seeking to continue the community momentum it had generated to get the reservoir refilled, has morphed into the Silver Lake Now organization and will likely be arguing against making any additional changes to the complex, other than those they already wish to see completed. Learn more about Silver Lake Now and get involved in the debate.
This statement from 13th District Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s website regarding the upcoming May 1, 2018 planning meeting, seems focused on striking a balance between the potential uses of the lake and the concerns of neighboring residents.
“The Master Plan will guide improvements and protection of the reservoirs, and seek to balance its historic character, its use as a community gathering place, its strategic location within the Silver Lake community, and its unique blend of both functional and recreational spaces.”
The meeting’s goal is to discuss the “hiring of a consultant to support the planning process.” What the plan is, exactly, remains to be seen. Read more about the planning meeting on Councilmember O’Farrell’s website.
Residents here in Silver Lake are mixed. Many celebrate new changes, like the opening of the walking path across the South Dam of the reservoir above the dog park, while others don’t care to see any additional changes to the complex for fear of the congestion-related attention.
And it does beg the question, does the neighborhood lose what made it special and cherished with these types of sweeping changes or is there anything that can be done about that when you are a part of a complicated and sprawling metropolis seeking to meet the needs of its 4 million residents?
Silver Lake may be the focus of this cultural battleground currently but this is nothing new to homeowners throughout Los Angeles. Homeowners will always fight to keep things the way they are but they are up against the machinations of a massive urban population in the midst of one of the most desirable locations on the planet. Sometimes, no matter how deep the connections, there is simply nothing that can be done to prevent change.
Nothing stays a secret forever
For all its bucolic splendor, it is easy to forget that Silver Lake resides not far from the iconic epicenter of California’s most urbanized and populated city, nearly 3 times over. When dealing with an urban, political, socio-economic behemoth such as the City of Los Angeles, sometimes there are only two choices, adapt or leave.