This blog post was co-written by Tori Kjer, Los Angeles Program Director, Trust for Public Land and Jessica Meaney, Managing Director at Investing in Place. Learn more about the #OurParks coalition by visiting http://ourparksla.org. Photo header taken by the OurParks coalition.
Sure, this November we will be electing a new President, and a new U.S. Senator representing California, and we’ll be voting on dozens of other offices and measures. But among the important votes we will be casting – that will effect the day-to-day lives of the people the Los Angeles Region – is the Safe, Clean Neighborhood Parks, Open Space, Local Beaches, Rivers, and Water Conservation Protection Measure in Los Angeles County.
This proposed tax will help provide safe, clean neighborhood parks, beaches and open spaces in every area of Los Angeles County — because they are an essential part of what makes our communities special. And that is why a broad coalition of more than 60 local community organizations, youth advocates, educators, advocates for older adults, business and environmental leaders have come together to pass this essential measure.
The Board of Supervisors placed the parks measure on the November ballot based on the most extensive and inclusive needs assessment ever conducted in L.A. County. In addition to identifying the specific park needs of each city and unincorporated area of the County, the needs assessment confirmed other research demonstrating that low-income and predominantly Latino and African American communities have fewer, more congested, and poorer quality park and recreation facilities.
These disparities correlate with key indicators of health and major drivers of health care costs as outlined in a new report by the LA County Department of Public Health. LA County cities and unincorporated areas with less park space have higher rates of premature mortality from cardiovascular disease and diabetes, higher prevalence of children obesity, and greater economic hardship compared with cities and communities with more park space. The park measure will go a long way in reversing these park disparities and related health inequities in LA County.
We have an excellent opportunity to pass this measure – and we certainly have the need to replace expiring local funding for safe, clean neighborhood parks.
Why do we need to support the L.A. County parks measure?
- The Parks Needs Assessment paired rigorous technical analysis with robust public outreach, including over 200 community meetings in multiple languages. This open and inclusive process highlighted disparities in park access in low-income communities and communities of color and resulted in targeted strategy of the allocation of public funds to address and reverse this trend.
- Permanent protection of our remaining natural areas near creeks, rivers and lakes will preserve them for future generations as well as conserving precious local water resources. Most remaining local undeveloped natural areas are near creeks, streams and lakes.
- We need to provide for necessary safety repairs and upgrades to keep our kids, older adults and all residents safe and with places to sit, be active, be together and people watch outside. The ongoing lack of funding has meant park staff is unable to upgrade outdated and unsafe playground equipment, recreation centers, senior centers, and restrooms, which are suffering from termite damage, mold, leaky roofs, decaying walls, lack of shade, poor drainage, unsafe lighting and often poor access for individuals with limited mobility or arriving without access to a private car for the trip.
- We must provide safe places for all youth – regardless of the community they live in – to play and participate in after-school programs in neighborhood parks — which receive over 41 million visits by kids annually. Doing so will help keep kids in every community with a wonderful and safe place to play outside and create improved public spaces for all.
- This is an essential opportunity to help fund water conservation efforts such as the use of drought-tolerant plants, recycled water for ball fields, landscapes and green spaces and capturing and cleaning more rainwater. These efforts to reduce waste will save money and help to protect our local drinking water And we will take important steps on behalf of our health and the sustainability of L.A. County.
Please contact Tori Kjer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310-909-3891 for more information, and to get involved in this exciting ballot measure and potential new funding for improving our public parks and public space throughout Los Angeles County.