TPL Unveils Los Angeles Parks Initiative

December 7, 2004
California

Los Angeles, 12/7/2004-The Trust for Public Land (TPL) today unveiled a major new initiative to improve access to parks and open space in Los Angeles County. The new program, Parks for People-LA, will create recreational opportunities for tens of thousands of children in the region's most underserved neighborhoods.

A recent study conducted by the Trust for Public Land found that nearly two-thirds of children in Los Angeles County (1.7 million children) do not live within one-quarter mile of a public park or other open space. By contrast, only three percent of children living in Boston and nine percent of children living in New York lack easy access to a public park.

Parks for People Los Angeles Case Statement

"We are here because parks are vitally needed in Los Angeles," said Will Rogers, president of the Trust for Public Land at a Playa Vista conference unveiling Parks for People-LA. "Parks help children lead healthier lives in more vibrant communities. They bring children out from behind closed doors, providing the opportunities they deserve to play sports, have picnics with their families, or just enjoy the sunshine on a Southern California afternoon."

The Trust for Public Land established a goal for Parks for People-LA of creating 25 new parks and open space projects over the next five years. To determine where those parks should be located, Parks for People-LA uses U.S. Census Bureau data to identify which neighborhoods are most in need. Trust for Public Land staff then works with local leaders to identify specific property targets within those highest-need areas. Acquisition is accomplished using a combination of private donations and county, state and federal grants. Once new parks are developed, the Trust for Public Land will transfer ownership to local governments or nonprofit community-based organizations for long-term stewardship. The total cost of the Parks for People-LA program is estimated at $48 million.

Parks for People-LA organizers expect the program to positively impact children's health. "Study after study has confirmed that children with access to parks exercise more, fighting obesity, hypertension, asthma and a host of other serious health problems," said Larry Kaplan, who co-directs the Parks for People-LA program with TPL Director of Strategic Planning David Wheelan. "Parks also revitalize communities. Community cohesion goes up after new parks open. Property values go up and crime rates go down."

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Additional detail about the health and other public benefits of parks are described in a Trust for Public Land White Paper, "Parks for People: Why America Needs More City Parks and Open Space," available upon request or at www.tpl.org/pforp.

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Former Parks Commissioner Soboroff to Serve as Voluntary Chair

Steve Soboroff, a former Los Angeles Parks Commissioner and current president of Playa Vista will serve as voluntary chair of the Parks for People-LA program. Soboroff will advise Parks for People on land acquisition and park development issues and will lead the campaign's private sector fundraising campaign.

Soboroff has pledged to provide operational support for the Parks for People-LA program and to help raise the additional $8 million needed from private sector donors to fully fund the project. Other founding supporters announced today include Progressive Design Playgrounds, Union Bank of California, California Advisory Board Chair Doug Gardner and Trust for Public Land Board Member Brian Beitner.

"Parks and open space are essential elements of healthy and balanced communities," Soboroff said. "All Angelenos should get involved and do what they can to make the Trust for Public Land's Parks for People-LA program a success."

Parks for People-LA Names 2005 Priority Projects

As part of the program's formal launch, the Trust for Public Land unveiled its eight priority Parks for People-LA projects for 2005:

Maywood Riverfront Park (City of Maywood)-In partnership with the city, the Trust for Public Land will acquire six adjoining abandoned industrial parcels along the Los Angeles River. The city will redevelop the properties into a seven-acre park.

Watts/Mudtown Flats (City of Los Angeles)-Together with the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, the Trust for Public Land will expand and permanently protect this large community garden to create an urban agricultural center.

Gibson Road Community Park (City of El Monte)-The Trust for Public Land is working closely with the City of El Monte to acquire this 4-acre site adjacent to Shirpser Avenue Elementary School for use as a playground and public park.

SIPA Recreational Pavilion (Filipinotown/City of Los Angeles)-In partnership with the community-based organization Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA), the Trust for Public Land will develop a playground and public performance space in this historically Filipino neighborhood west of downtown Los Angeles.

Francis Avenue Community Garden (Koreatown/City of Los Angeles)-In partnership with the Los Angeles Community Garden Council, the Trust for Public Land is seeking to protect this existing open space resource by acquiring the property and transferring ownership to the Council.

Para Los Ni?os Community Park (City of Los Angeles)-Together with the nonprofit family service agency Para Los Ni?os, the Trust for Public Land will acquire a vacant .29 acre lot in the Pico-Union neighborhood and transform it into a community "pocket" park.

Bodger Park (City of Lawndale)-In collaboration with the Lawndale School District and the nonprofit organization New Schools/Better Neighborhoods, the Trust for Public Land will substantially renovate this existing facility and create new physical education opportunities for students at a nearby elementary school.

Beyond Shelter Park Complex (City of Los Angeles)-The Trust for Public Land is working closely with the nonprofit Beyond Shelter Housing Development Corporation to acquire and develop two small public parks in the underserved South-Central section of Los Angeles. Acquisition targets have been selected and preliminary design plans include the development of full-size basketball courts and grassy play areas.

Additional information about these projects is available upon request.

About the Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, community gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural places. Since 1972, TPL has worked with willing landowners, community groups, and national, state and local agencies to complete more than 2,700 land conservation projects in 46 states, protecting more than 1.9 million acres. TPL has helped states and communities craft and pass 192 ballot measures, generating more than $35 billion in new conservation-related funding.

TPL's work depends on the generous support of donors and volunteers who share our mission of conserving land for people to create more livable communities. The Wall Street Journal's SmartMoney magazine, Money, Forbes, and The Chronicle of Philanthropy have all rated TPL among the most efficient charities in the United States for keeping fundraising and operation costs low while meeting mission goals.