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"In a city that cries poverty every 20 minutes..."

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The LA Times is reporting today that the city has a near $77.5 million unspent in Quimby fees that it has been collected from developers for park space and improvements. The fees, from the California 1975 Quimby Act (not that quimby folks), require developers to help mitigate the impacts of property improvements and new development by paying a fee that goes into a city parks department fund or set aside land on the development.

The parks issue came to a head recently, with some downtown developers expressing anger over the city's proposed elimination of a fee discount. The so-called Quimby fees, named for the 1975 law that created them, range from about $3,000 to $10,000 per new residential unit. Developers who have been wanting to know how the city accounts for and spends those fees are particularly peeved by [city parks chief Jon] Mukri's acknowledgment that his department doesn't have the answers.

"In a city that cries poverty every 20 minutes, it's amazing there's that kind of money waiting to be spent on the thing that people want the most," said Tom Gilmore, who has been developing apartments and lofts downtown for the last decade.

"I'm not complaining about paying the fees, I'm just saying, 'Show me some results,' " he added. "I want to see green space -- and not just the green space outside City Hall." [LA Times]

Muckri's answer is that "the necessary Department staff and infrastructure for the proper accounting, tracking, and distribution of these funds have never been acquired." However, money is being spent. 35 new parks over the next five years are planned including the $8.8 million that could soon be spent on three parks downtown in the arts district, South Park and near the LA River.

Though, with all the money, even some of the simplest projects have not been accomplished. The Downtown News reports earlier this week that Downtown Properties paid Recreation and Parks' Forestry Division $5,000 to plant four trees outside the company's Douglas Building Lofts more than a year ago and has seen no results. Bill Stevenson, VP of the company said "we pay a lot, we get a little."

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Photo at MacArthur Park by Here in Van Nuys via Flickr

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