The New Quimby: Celebrating a Win for LA's Parks

Though no single policy can be the silver bullet for adequate park funding, access, or equity in Los Angeles, the LA City Council's updates to the Quimby policy are an opportunity to start bridging the gap.
Press conference with Councilmember José Huizar
Credit: Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to revise its Quimby ordinance in a way that will increase much-needed public funding for parks and park improvements.

Although the state of California's Quimby Act requires developers to dedicate property or fees in lieu of property to acquiring or improving public parks, an outdated Quimby policy at the city level meant that fees weren't keeping pace with inflation. The "New Quimby" ordinance features increased fees on residential development projects that reflect modern real estate prices, and geographically flexible spending to ensure that Quimby funds can reach the neighborhoods that need it most.

These updates are long overdue. Los Angeles spends less per capita on parks than most major West Coast cities, and ranks only 65th for parks out of the nation’s top 100 cities according to the Trust for Public Land. LA’s infrastructure has been underfunded for so long that deferred maintenance costs continue to compound. The Countywide Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment estimates deferred maintenance costs at approximately $12 billion. The total estimate for park needs is closer to $22 billion. The practical effect of this disinvestment has been crumbling infrastructure that disproportionately burdens low income communities and communities of color.

In many communities, parks are the only spaces available for community gathering and recreational activity. However, two out of three Angelenos live in park-poor communities. Access to parks and open space is linked to better community health, including freedom from chronic illnesses, increased quality of life, longevity, and increased opportunities for physical activity. These benefits are out of reach for too many of our communities.

Though no single policy can be the silver bullet for adequate park funding, access, or equity in Los Angeles, the City Council recognized these updates as an opportunity to start bridging the gap. This historic vote marks a step towards a greener, more equitable Los Angeles—a win all Angelenos should be proud of.

This victory was the product of a multi-year campaign led by the inspiring team at the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust and the Parks for All Coalition, a dedicated group of 68 organizations with ties to public health, affordable housing, environmental justice, parks, and open spaces. My colleagues Ramya Sivasubramanian, legal fellow Sara Atsbaha, and I have been proud to represent NRDC in the coalition, and look forward to continuing to expand park equity and access here in southern California.

Thanks to Sara Atsbaha for contributing to this post.

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