L.A. County Proposes Parcel Tax Ballot Measure To Fix Parks Across Region

As it stands right now, Los Angeles County will lose a significant amount of funding for public park maintenance and development by 2019. That's the year funding developed by a 1996 ballot measure—Proposition A, the Safe Neighborhood Parks Act— will expire.

The County knows this, which is why they chartered a comprehensive report to study the state of park space in Los Angeles County, and what could possibly be done to improve the quality of parks in the region, according to the Daily News.

As the Asian Journal reports, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and the County Regional Park & Open Space District are proposing a 35-year Parcel Tax to remedy the rapidly approaching poverty of parks funding. A proposed 3-cent tax per square foot would raise $189 million annually, and a proposed 5-cent tax per square foot would raise $390 million.

Aside from making recommendations as to how local government could maintain park health into the coming decades, the report also detailed the current state of parks and park space across L.A. County. As you might expect, the results are mixed.

Though there are approximately 3.3 acres of park space per 1,000 L.A. County residents, the space is hardly distributed in an egalitarian way. Where communities throughout West L.A. and the San Gabriel Valley are lucky enough to have oodles of developed, usable public space, other areas in south, central, and southeast Los Angeles County are very park poor.

"I don’t think there is really quality of life unless you can spend some of your time outdoors playing, resting, relaxing, listening to music—all the things we can offer throughout our county park system," County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said to the Daily News.

The report found that more than half of L.A county residents live in an area considered "High Need" or "Very High Need." Just 21 percent live in a "Low need" or "Very Low Need" area. Areas designated "Very High Need" average just 0.7 acres of park space per 1,000 residents. By contrast, Low Need communities average 12.5 acres per 1,000 residents. Very Low Need communities boast a whopping 52 acres per 1,000 residents.

Communities like Huntington Park, which has 0.7 acres of park space per 1000 residents, Compton (0.6 acres) and El Monte (0.4 acres) are examples of park-poor communities. Sun Valley, Van Nuys, and South Los Angeles were also identified as communities that need more open space.

The report also examined the condition of infrastructure inside parks. The numbers are, shall we say, no bueno here as well.

The assessment also found that about 58 percent of park amenities—think swings, drinking fountains, exercise equipment—in the county are either in poor or fair condition. More depressingly, just about 80 percent of L.A.'s parks are blighted with poor of fair infrastructure—defined as roads, walkways, lighting, and landscaping.

The Daily News reported that approximately 69 percent of county voters would support a parcel tax measure.