Grand opening for Trinity Street Elementary’s community-park

By Steve Weingarten of People for Parks

Los Angeles ranks last among major U.S. cities for access to public green space. Only about 1 in 3 L.A. kids live within walking distance (a quarter-mile) of a park, compared to more than 90% of young Bostonians and New Yorkers. That isn’t to say we don’t have wonderful “super-parks,” from Griffith and Exposition to the beaches and mountains. Most families, though, can’t afford to drive to a park. One problem in changing that is that land in the urban core is more often turned into strip malls, not pocket parks.

Five years ago, People for Parks developed an alternative approach. Hundreds of school playgrounds in “park-poor” neighborhoods are paved with asphalt simply because it’s cheap and easy to maintain, not because that the best surface for recreation. Why not tear up as much asphalt as possible and landscape them for the benefit of the students during the daytime and for the surrounding community on weekends and during school breaks?

First the L.A. City Council approved the concept of Community-School Parks, followed by the L.A. Unified School District. The economic crisis knocked the City of L.A. out of the picture, but the LAUSD and People for Parks continued working on the project. Now — on Saturday, Jan. 28 — we will cut the ribbon on our first CSP and it’s in your readership area: Trinity Street Elementary. Visit the PFP website at www.peopleforparks.orgimage