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Does Los Angeles Need More 'Pocket Parks'?

The Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council is set to discuss a City plan to create as many as 50 new "neighborhood green spaces" such as Yosemite Park.

The City of Los Angeles reportedly designates 10 acres of parkland for every 1,000 of its nearly 4 million residents—a standard it amply exceeds, given that it owns no less than 15,717 acres of parkland.

Yet, as the L.A. Daily News reported Thursday, Los Angeles remains “park poor” from the point of view of “neighborhood green spaces”—as opposed to relatively abundant mountainous parkland. The City therefore wants to develop 50 new so-called “pocket parks” across neighborhoods over the next two years, according an announcement by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a meeting of the Los Angeles Business Council on Wednesday.

So far, public reaction to the mayor’s announcement appears to be muted, indifferent or plainly slow—but not here in Eagle Rock, where, to borrow a phrase popularized by (The Eagle Rock Association), land issues are a contact sport.

Bad Idea: Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council President

The City’s plan has President Michael Larsen up in arms—and it’s no mystery why: Many of L.A.’s pocket parks are confronted with serious safety and vandalism issues. Take our very own , which has gained notoriety for the frequent spectacle of teenagers up to no good, not to mention the occasional—but deeply troubling—violence targeted at some hapless residents.

“We need to show that the city is [capable] of properly handling the parks it has now—and until it does [it] has no business opening new ones,” said Larsen in an email Thursday to several City officials, including from law enforcement, as well as local school and college administrators. “The one excuse for why Yosemite [Park] is such a mess is money—there just isn't any money for better security, more supervision, etc. etc.”

Whither the Budget?

If the City’s ever-shrinking budget leaves it with insufficient resources to maintain and safeguard parks such as the Yosemite Recreation Center, then any decision to create as many as 50 brand-new parks is clearly unwise, Larsen said in his email.

“Maybe the resources we thought were missing are actually there and need some political pressure to realign,” he wrote, referring in part to a somewhat startling figure that he mentioned in a previous email to the same set of officials: The LAUSD pays the City a tidy sum—nearly $200,000 in 2010—for the use of the swimming pool at Yosemite Park’s southern (and most graffiti-tagged) end by students.

Larsen told Eagle Rock Patch that he spoke with one of the mayor’s media aides Thursday—“and he seemed swayed by the argument of taking care of existing parks before we spend more money on more projects.” The ERNC, added Larsen, “will definitely take this [matter] up—it's so misguided.”

Stay tuned for further developments on this issue.

Correction: An earlier version of this article inadvertently gave the population of the City of Los Angeles as 10 million—instead of as about 4 million. It's Los Angeles County that has 10 million people. And the sub-heading of a previous version of this article stated that the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council is set to "oppose" the City's decision to create 50 more pocket parks. The ERNC is not set to oppose the plan but will discuss it at its next board meeting in December. The errors are regretted.

Marino November 30, 2011 at 07:56 PM
Where do pocket parks come from? Does the stork bring them? Do we have to demolish well maintained houses with nice yards? Do we have to tear down successful businesses to make room for pocket parks? None of the above. Candidates for pocket parks are currently vacant lots covered with weeds, trash and graffiti.
Jeff November 30, 2011 at 08:24 PM
Severin is correct, as an example of the perfect local pocket park, travel east on Colorado toward the Arroyo, at the corner of Melose Ave (San Rafael Park). TO make it a viable park, it takes about two or more sized properties, which is hard to find two houses next to each other that are in foreclosure or abandoned.
Anthony Crump December 12, 2011 at 06:16 PM
This story is factually inaccurate in the first paragraph, thus invalidating everything else in the article The City of Los Angeles does not have 10 million residents. The city has a population of 3.9 million residents and the total population of LA County is nearly 10 million. Because everything else that follows in this article is based on that substantial inaccuracy, the rest of it is pointless garbage.
Ajay Singh December 12, 2011 at 09:44 PM
Thanks for pointing out that error, Anthony Crump. L.A. County's population inadvertently got substituted for the City's population, as noted in the correction above.
Maurice Petty April 03, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Thank you all for your interest in pocket parks. Some of you may be worried about crime such as vandalism, gangs, and things like that, but you should give Angelinos a chance in the inner cities. We shouldn't neccessarily tear down abandoned buildings and homes just yet, however, there are plenty of vacant lots already in some neighborhoods that I could gladly point out to you all that could be easily turned into a pocket park. Just picture this people... you have a small park with a full court basketball court, with a small sandbox playground, parents pushing their kids on the swings after doing homework, fido in the little pet area with his neighbors, teens playing basketball. Simple as that. Now that sounds like a fun, loving community to me! Of course you will have some possible crime, but during development, the communities will be prepared for their new pocket parks, have meetings to raise awareness of what they can do to make their park safe, fun, and loving for their community. Thank you for letting me share, and I would like for you all to follow me on Facebook.com/MauricePetty

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