Securing Parks and Open Space For All in Los Angeles


L.A.’s most park-poor neighborhoods got a double dose of good news yesterday.

In the morning, the City Council voted unanimously to sell five acres of the Elephant Hill property in El Sereno for the purpose of permanently protecting the land as open space for the community. I blogged about this critically important vote earlier this week.

Thanks to the City Council’s actions, residents in the congested northeast area of L.A. will now have better access to nearby open space for exercise, recreation, and peaceful reflection. This is a huge step forward for the community, and it would not have happened without the hard work and dedication of Councilmember Jose Huizar and his staff, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, and key El Sereno residents who have been fighting to protect this community jewel from day one.

View from Elephant Hill, El Sereno, CA.  (Photo credit: NRDC)

But that was just the beginning. Not wanting to be outdone by the City Council, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced yesterday that he wants Los Angeles to build 50 new pocket parks in the next two years. According to the L.A. Times, the mayor said that “city workers have been scouring Los Angeles to find locations to create small parks, especially in some of the most densely populated neighborhoods.”

This is terrific news for Los Angeles, and long overdue. Only about one out of every seven Angelenos (14%) live within a half-mile of open space, leaving about 8.6 million people in virtual “park deserts.” And as anyone who has lived in or visited L.A. knows, many parts of the city are crowded and bustling, with seemingly endless stretches of pavement and asphalt.

Urban parks and natural open space areas are islands of serenity in the concrete jungle. I’m glad our leaders in L.A. understand this and are committed to increasing open space and parkland, especially in those neighborhoods that need it the most.