LA’s Park System Decimated by Hit-and-Run City Policy

WAYIST WORDS-The Trust for Public Lands' latest ParkScore ranking of the parks systems in major US cities was just released.  While New York  ranks #2, Los Angeles ranks ... 34th.  Detroit for all of its problems ranks considerably higher than Los Angeles. 


“You can’t have a great city without great parks,” said Mr. Benepe, who, under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, oversaw 1,700 parks and beaches during a period of expansion and major capital investment. 

Benepe's statement certainly does not bear any resemblance to Los Angeles' dedication to its parks. LA City leaders have effectively stolen $151 million in mandated park funding from LA's parks department since 2007 and used it to cover holes in other City departments' budgets. This Los Angeles' version of 'dedication' - a policy of completely decimating LA's parks.

You will hear LA politicos brag about Mayor Villaraigosa's 50-parks initiative... an initiative with funding for the acquisition of 50 postage stamp-sized parks, but no funding -- zero -- for maintenance, programming, or security going forward. Hardly a significant investment in LA's parks, particularly when compared to New York.

Meanwhile it only gets worse for LA's parks this next fiscal year. Although Mayor-elect Garcetti is a signatory on ParksSave's pledge to restore parks funding, Garcetti as councilmember, the Mayor, and City Council unanimously approved taking another $70 million in chargebacks ($64 million) and hidden indirect charges ($7 million) from the Department of Recreation and Parks during the upcoming year alone. Another $70 million in one year!

The compounded result of the Mayor and City Council's policy is that today, the Department of Recreation and Parks is at risk of losing its recreation function completely.  Let me repeat that: Los Angeles is at risk of losing all public recreation programming. Now that's dedication.

Garcetti as Mayor does have the opportunity to change all of this destruction come July 1 when he takes the oath of office, however, and one hopes he realizes what is at stake.

“You can’t have a great city without great parks” is one of those universal knowns, whether here in the states or anywhere else on Planet Earth.  Yet the City of Los Angeles actively steals millions from its parks, dishonoring the foresight Angelenos had when they tried to protect LA's parks by mandating special funding specifically for parks in the City Charter.


Stay tuned for the deflecting, marginalizing, and scapegoating of managers that is sure to follow.


(Kristin Sabo is an LA parks advocate, an occasional CityWatch contributor, and blogs at 






Vol 12 Issue 4

Pub: Jan 14, 2014