Rory M. Shaw Wetlands Park Project

The Rory M. Shaw Wetlands Park Project (In dedication to City of Los Angeles engineer, Rory M. Shaw) is a collaborative effort by the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, the City of Los Angeles, and the Sun Valley Watershed Stakeholders Group to address major flooding in Sun Valley. The project’s objectives are to mitigate flood risk and reduce stormwater pollution while increasing water conservation, recreational opportunities, and wildlife habitat. This will be achieved by converting a 46-acre, engineered, inert landfill into a multi-purpose wetlands park. The park will feature a 21-acre detention pond that will provide the capacity to hold runoff collected from the upstream tributary area. The captured stormwater in the detention pond will then enter a 10-acre wetland that will act as a natural water treatment system by removing pollutants from the stormwater. In addition, the wetlands will form a sustainable habitat for various plant and animal species. Finally, the treated stormwater is to be pumped to the existing Sun Valley Park infiltration basins for groundwater recharge.

Sun Valley community is currently underserved in recreational opportunities. The Rory M. Shaw Wetlands Park Project meets this need by creating approximately 15 acres of open space and recreational areas. Proposed recreational enhancements include trails, basketball and tennis courts, a tot lot, picnic tables, educational signage, and restrooms.

A new 4.75 mile long storm drain system will be constructed as part of a separate project (Sun Valley Upper Storm Drain Project) to capture and convey runoff from the upper portion of the watershed and deliver it to the detention pond. The storm drain system is proposed along Glenoaks Blvd, San Fernando Road, Tuxford Street, and Tujunga Avenue.

Due to a discovery of organic landfill material on-site, the project required undergoing a re-design to ensure complete site safety. The next phase of the project is overexcavation and grading of the site which is expected to take four years to compete. The project is funded by the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and City of Los Angeles Proposition O grant funds.

For questions regarding the project, contact project manager Donna Bautista.

Project Manager: Donna Bautista
Phone Number: 626-300-2013

For site maintenance concerns, contact Vanessa Hernandez.

Maintenance Contact: Vanessa Hernandez
Phone Number: 818-896-0594


2023: Project permits were obtained, and the final review of the plans, specifications and cost estimate was conducted.

2022: Final plans, specifications and cost estimate continue to be finalized. Moreover, additional environmental analysis was completed and progress was made in permit approvals.

2021: Design plans are being revised to incorporate constructability, environmental, and safety measures determined by previous analyses.


The Management Plan and projects were developed in collaboration with various community, government, non-profit, and other local groups. Groups include:
  • Sun Valley Watershed Stakeholder Group
  • Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Council
  • City of LA Council District 6
  • City of Los Angeles Public Works
  • Supervisorial District 3
  • Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
  • Los Angeles County Public Works
  • Greater Los Angeles Vector Control District
The project has taken additional time to develop because of the discovery of organic landfill material, the need for thorough geotechnical investigations and testing, and a delay in the County obtaining full access to the site. Organic landfill material was discovered in 2014 which required a redesign of the whole project. Due to the presence of methane generated from the organic material, the project features not only had to be rearranged, but a new passive methane treatment system was incorporated as part of the project design to address any potential health issues.

Additionally, extensive geotechnical investigations and testing were needed to analyze the site. This project site was previously a construction debris landfill (i.e. asphalt, brick, concrete, etc.). This is a unique challenge to develop the site (different from typical sites) and poses a higher risk of differential settlement due to large voids from the debris. We must ensure the site is sufficiently compacted to prevent the park from settling unevenly which can endanger the stability of the flood control detention pond and wetlands on the site. Numerous testing and analyses were done to determine the needed level and approach to compaction to ensure the safety of the future park.

Lastly, the County did not have full access to the site until early 2017 when the previous concrete mixing company left the site. The subsequent demolition work and additional geotechnical testing could not be completed until the site was completely vacated.
To properly prepare the site for the future park amenities, a tremendous amount of earthen material must be excavated, processed, back-filled, and compacted. Specifically, there is ~1.8 million cubic yards to be excavated; ~1.4 million cubic yards to be processed (screened, crushed, and further tested), back-filled, compacted; and ~500K cubic yards to be exported. As a point of reference, the total excavation amount (~1.8 million cubic yards) is roughly the equivalent of 4 Rose Bowls in volume. While the project site is quite large at 46 acres in size, all that space will be needed for equipment and mobilization of trucks to excavate, stockpile, and process all the earthen material.

Aside from the large volume of material, the County has strict safety and environmental requirements for construction activities to ensure there are minimal impacts to the community and the environment. This includes required setbacks and safe heights of stockpiles, as well as limiting noise, air, and sound impacts from the equipment and trucks.
The Storm Drain is an essential component and will work together with the park’s detention pond and wetland to provide the necessary flood control benefit for the upstream watershed. Also, as noted in the previous paragraph, all the excavation and rough grading activities to prepare the site must be completed before the park, detention pond, and wetlands can be installed. However, please note that both the Rory Shaw Park and Storm Drain projects are being designed and built in parallel. There are multiple phases to the Storm Drain project, that like Rory Shaw, will require multiple years to build. The County wants both projects to be done as close to one another as possible to minimize any down time. For additional information visit the Storm Drain project website.
Currently, the property is owned by Los Angeles County. After the work is completed, Los Angeles County will maintain an easement and maintenance responsibilities over the detention pond portion of the park. Los Angeles City will take on ownership and maintenance responsibilities over the park space and wetlands features.
You can receive ongoing updates through our quarterly email blasts by signing up at the bottom of the Sun Valley Watershed website where it says, "Learn more about Sun Valley Watershed". We will continue to update more details on all Sun Valley projects on each of their individual project pages. Future community meeting information will also be posted on our Community Engagement page of the website.