Pacoima Wash

Pacoima Wash, 33 miles (53 km) long,[1] is a major tributary of the Tujunga Wash, itself a tributary of the Los Angeles River, in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles County, California.

Pacoima Wash
Pacoima Wash in Panorama City
CountryUnited States
Physical characteristics
  locationPacoima Dam, California
  elevation1,990 feet (610 m)
Tujunga Wash, California

The stream begins at Mount Gleason, 6,502 ft (1,982 m), in the western San Gabriel Mountains of the Angeles National Forest. The upper reaches, sometimes known as Pacoima Creek, flow through Pacoima Canyon as a rapid mountain stream. It then reaches the Pacoima Dam Reservoir in the western San Gabriel Mountains of the Angeles National Forest and proceeds south in a free-flowing stream alongside Pacoima Trail Road. Below the dam, it is generally known as the Pacoima Wash. From there, it joins several other unnamed streams that drain the nearby mountains, collecting at Lopez Dam. South of that dam, Pacoima Wash is encased in a concrete flood control channel, and travels south from Kagel Canyon in Sylmar though San Fernando, Pacoima, Mission Hills, Panorama City, and Van Nuys.

Just after Interstate 5, the stream branches off to the Pacoima Diversion Channel, joining Tujunga Wash further upstream. Just before Raymer Street, the stream also branches off to an unnamed channel joining Tujunga Wash. The main Pacoima Wash continues to Van Nuys Boulevard and is carried through a storm drain to join Tujunga Wash further south.

Recent history

In 1991, the section between Lassen Street and Parthenia Street was one of the last sections of natural stream beds in the San Fernando Valley to be made a concrete channel.[2][3]

In 2007, the wash was cleaned up after being cited as a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus.[4]

Pacoima Wash has been the site of several rescues of people, mostly of children and teenagers trapped in the spring runoff. Recent stories have appeared in 1985,[5] 1993,[6][7][8] 1995,[9][10][11][12] 1996,[13] 1998,[14][15] and 2006.[16]

In recent years there have been efforts to create a greenway along the Wash connecting the communities of the Northeast San Fernando Valley. In 2004 the Pacoima Wash Greenway Master Plan was created by Department of Landscape Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona which focuses on the portion of the Wash within the City of San Fernando.[17]

In 2008 environmental non-profit Pacoima Beautiful started the Pacoima Wash initiative.[18] The goal of this project is to create a linear greenway composed of bike lanes and a walking path along a 12-mile stretch of the Wash between the Pacoima Dam in Sylmar and the Tujunga Wash in Arleta. The Pacoima Wash Vision Plan,[19] which covers the Sylmar and Pacoima portions of the Wash was produced in 2011. An addendum to the plan focusing on the Arleta portion of the Wash is currently being produced.

Several new parks along the Wash are in various stages of completion. 8th Street Park is a 4.75 acre park in the City of San Fernando which will be completed in spring of 2014.[20] The city of Los Angeles is creating preliminary designs for a park along the Wash between El Dorado and Telfair Street.[21]

Crossings and tributaries

From mouth to source (year built in parentheses):[22]

  • Van Nuys Boulevard (1948)
  • Saticoy Street (1933)
  • Raymer Street
  • Railroad: Union Pacific Coast Line
  • Unnamed channel departs
  • Roscoe Boulevard (1957)
  • Chase Street [Pedestrian Bridge]
  • Parthenia Street
  • Rayen Street (1996)
  • Nordhoff Street
  • Tupper Street [Pedestrian Bridge]
  • Plummer Street
  • Lassen Street
  • Parking lot
  • Woodman Avenue
  • Devonshire Street and Pacoima Spreading Grounds
  • Arleta Avenue
  • Pacoima Diversion Channel departs
  • Interstate 5 Golden State Freeway and Paxton Street ramps (1963 and 1976)
  • Laurel Canyon Boulevard (1954)
  • State Route 118 Ronald Reagan Freeway (1969)
  • San Jose Street/Haddon Avenue [Pedestrian Bridge]
  • San Fernando Road (1925)
  • Railroad: Metrolink Antelope Valley Line
  • Bradley Avenue/4th Street (1954)
  • 5th Street (1953)
  • Glenoaks Boulevard (1953)
  • Foothill Boulevard (1923)
  • Interstate 210 Foothill Freeway (1975)
  • Lopez Dam
  • Harding Street
  • Gavina Avenue
  • Pacoima Trail Road and private roads


  1. U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed March 16, 2011
  2. Schwada, John (June 26, 1991). "Last Stretch of Pacoima Wash Soon to Be Concrete". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  3. "A Concrete Plan for Nature's Way". Los Angeles Times. July 15, 1991. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  4. Vara-Orta, Francisco (August 16, 2007). "Crews clean up Valley wash seen as potential West Nile virus threat". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  5. "In Critical Condition - Boy Swept 2 Miles in Pacoima Wash". Los Angeles Times. February 13, 1985. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  6. Watson, Carol (February 4, 1993). "Teen-Ager Rescues Boy, 10, in Pacoima Wash". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  7. "MISSION HILLS - Boy Honored for Rescue in Wash". Los Angeles Times. February 10, 1993. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  8. Tamaki, Julie (February 13, 1993). "Police Save 2 Teen-Agers Swept Into Pacoima Wash". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  9. Stewart, Jocelyn Y. (January 30, 1995). "Boy Rescued From Current in Pacoima Wash". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  10. Guzman, Isaac (March 5, 1995). "Man, 2 Boys Are Rescued From Wash in Pacoima". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  11. Guzman, Isaac (April 2, 1995). "2 Teens Saved From Wash". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  12. Desantis, Jeannette (April 5, 1995). "Boy, 2 Rescuers Plucked From Pacoima Wash". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  13. Cardenas, Jose (December 11, 1996). "Bystanders Pull Boys Out of Pacoima Wash". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  14. "Passerby Rescues Man, 18, Who Fell Into Pacoima Wash". Los Angeles Times. April 14, 1998. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  15. Moore, Solomon (April 17, 1998). "4 Teenagers Pulled From Swift Water". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  16. "2 Girls Rescued in Pacoima Wash". Los Angeles Times. April 9, 2006. Retrieved 2009-08-13.
  22. "National Bridge Inventory Database". Retrieved 2009-08-12.

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