Community parks in the City earned generally solid grades for facilities such as playgrounds, trails and gyms — but maintenance and cleanliness of restrooms scored largely C and below in new first-of-their kind report cards issued by L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin this week grading the condition of 40 of the City’s parks.
Inspired by “New Yorkers for Parks,” which has issued report cards fro New York City parks since 2003, Galperin contracted with a consulting from to visit parks and survey almost 4,000 residents.
“The results of this report show that maintenance, sustainability and safety are among the chief concerns. The resulting scorecards also indicate that the lowest graded parks are throughout the East San Fernando Valley, South L.A./Harbor, and Metropolitan/Greater downtown Los Angeles areas.
While L.A. Parks received “A” grades for the maintenance and conditions of children’s play areas and park center interiors, both the survey research and report card assessment agreed that park restrooms are most problematic. 37% of surveyed L.A. residents indicated that maintenance, especially cleanliness, is the area in need of greatest improvement. Restrooms received “C” grades overall, and 16 community parks received “D” or “F” grades for their restrooms,” wrote Galperin in a cover letter delivering his report to city officials.
Locally, Pan Pacific Park scored a B+. Poor scores on restrooms and cleanliness brought down the over all good grades for facilities. For anyone who uses the park, that’s sounds about right.
Looking ahead at challenges facing our parks, Galperin’s report noted:
“L.A. parks face a number of environmental challenges. Due to pests, disease and drought, the LA Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) estimates it will lose 30% of its trees over the next three to five years. Such losses would harm the City since trees offer significant environmental and health benefits. City leaders should support RAP efforts to replace dead trees and increase the diversity of tree species. September 13, 2017 Page 2 of 2 Additionally, recent changes to the L.A. Department of Water and Power rate structure will increase RAP’s annual water costs from $9 million to $22 million. Although RAP reduced its water use by 56% since 2007 and invested in “smart” irrigation systems, the high cost of water will be increasingly burdensome. As a solution, better stormwater management can offset the need to purchase water, while protecting natural resources during drought; therefore, it is important to invest in infrastructure such as permeable ground surfaces.”
And not surprisingly, the report found that addressing the issues of crime and homelessness was essential to creating a safe and inviting park. In the survey, almost half of residents said concerns about safety kept them from using parks.
The report recommended:
- Expanding and regularizing the report card model –To include more parks and annual or semi-annual assessments. Such a project could be undertaken by RAP — or, possibly, by a non-profit partner — as is done in New York City.
- Stepped-up and proactive maintenance –The City and RAP must invest more resources in cleaning and ongoing and preventive maintenance. RAP would further benefit from using a Citywide asset inventory and asset management system, which Galperin recommended last October.
- Have a clear plan for maintenance of any new parks before approving them.
- Enhanced programming and events such as dances, concerts and competitions at underused parks — particularly in areas with high population densities.
- Closing of the gender gap in the use of community parks by aligning park design, programs and other elements to better engage and offer services and amenities to girls and to women.
- Stronger partnerships with the Los Angeles Police Department and community groups to improve public safety and security.
- Improved water conservation, watershed management and environmental stewardship.
- Better management of homelessness — with expanded cooperation with other agencies offering homelessness, mental health and other social services to address challenges posed by homeless encampments at City parks.
More detailed findings and recommendations, in the attached report, and online at parkgrade.la.