Pocket parks to come to South LA

imageThe City of Los Angeles is making a move to create more parks within walking distance.

The Department of Recreation and Parks’ 50 Parks Initiative aims to create 50 public parks, including at least nine in South Los Angeles. Many of the South LA locations have not been finalized, though desired neighborhoods have been identified (see map).

Green dots represent sites that already have funds and the red dots are pending funding.

“The idea is to build parks in communities where people don’t have green spaces,” says Darryl Ford who works in the city’s Planning, Construction, and Maintenance Division. The initiative focuses on densely populated neighborhoods that lack access to recreational services. “We want as many people as possible to live a walkable distance to open areas.”

More parks in a reasonable walking distance is a community priority, according to an assessment survey the city conducted in 2009.

The 50 Parks Initiative hopes to stabilize neighborhoods and property values by providing “innumerable physical, social, health and environmental benefits to those communities,” according to a press release from The Department of Recreation and Parks.

“This project really addresses the direct needs of a community,” says Ford.

The pocket parks will be open spaces. The majority wil be less than an acre and many will fit on residential lots. The parks will provide green space and recreational facilities. The city also plans to supply each with security features, such as gates and cameras.

Residents near Vernon and Central Avenues in South L.A. were welcoming plans for a pocket park in their neighborhood. The Los Angeles Times reported on December 10, 2011 that the city spent more than $600,000 designing and building the Vernon Branch Library Pocket Park, but residents never got to enjoy it. According to the LA Times, the Los Angeles Unified School District is using the property as part of a new school campus now being built. Apparently, neither the city nor LAUSD knew of each other’s plans.

The funding comes from non-profits and a variety of public sources, including bonds and grants.

As of now, 47 sites have been identified, 23 of which are already funded. Some of the lots are development sites; others are donated or formally foreclosed homes. The city is considering more than 50 lots and doesn’t know what the final count will be.

This is an example of a pocket park in East LA. This park will be built on a residential lot where a house currently stands.


This is an example of a pocket park at Wilton Place in Torrance.

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