By far the most promising but controversial aspect of LA's initial 2024 Olympic plan was the utilization of the LA River. The river-adjacent Piggyback Yard, a high-priced and private industrial lot northeast of Downtown Los Angeles, was one of the focal points, with proposed housing and green spaces slated to become part of the Olympic Village.
However, organizing committee LA2024 announced today that UCLA would instead serve as the site of the Olympic Village, with the Media Village at USC. Chairman Casey Wasserman insists that the admittedly cost-conscious decision was made with the athletes' interests in mind, and that the Piggyback Yard site was never meant to be a definitive plan, but rather just a placeholder.
The decision is likely to please river activists, who were initially worried about the project's impact on greater revitalization plans. With the focus away from the Olympics, Mayor Eric Garcetti says that the city and LA River supporters can now focus on the area as part of the LA River Revitalization Master Plan. That said, Garcetti still sees the river's ongoing re-envisioning as a focal point of the Olympic bid, with more cultural programming to come, like the planned Public Art Biennial.
While the Olympic Village would be a boon to Westwood Village and UCLA's dorms, we can't help but wonder what it would mean for the traffic-choked Westside. Unless the Measure R sales tax is extended or Metro receives additional funding, the Purple Line extension isn't expected to reach UCLA until 2035, more than an entire decade after the potential Olympics.