As the current local funding that maintains Los Angeles County's parks is about to expire, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has set out to secure funding for the future.
Currently, Los Angeles parks are being funded through a measure that was passed in 1996 called Proposition A. That's about to expire in the year 2019. Once expired, the parks won't be at a complete loss of funds, but local funding will be lost and parks will be maintained through a significantly reduced amount of funding mostly secured through the state and other sources.
Hence, over the past several months, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has been working to craft a funding measure to potentially place on the November ballot that would propose a 35-year pacel tax, which would secure funding for current parks to be maintained and repaired if necessary, and for new parks to potentially be established.
To draft the measure, the Board of Supervisors has commissioned the Los Angeles County's Department of Parks and Recreation to conduct a "Parks Needs Assessment" across the county to determine the city's actual needs, and draft the measure accordingly.
"This represents an unprecedented effort to document existing parks and recreation facilities in cities and unincorporated communities and to use these data to determine the scope, scale, and location of park need in Los Angeles County," the executive summary of the Parks Needs Assessment states. "The Parks Needs Assessment will help local officials, park agencies, and residents understand the future steps that need to be taken to ensure all communities have adequate access to thriving parks."
The assessment was conducted by taking inventories of existing parks, determining the conditions of those parks, taking note of the demographics of the different communities, and holding over 170 community workshops across the county, which was attended by over 5,100 people, among other steps taken.
Some 49 percent of the county's population lives within a half-mile distance from a park, the assessment found.
The report also found that more than half of the county's population live in areas that were determined to be in 'High Need' or 'Very High Need' of a park, a metric which was determined by combining various factors such as the distance from a park, the density of the population, and the current available park acres available to a certain area, among others.
"We're very happy with the data -- it's good to know exactly where the funding should go," said Jane Beesley, a district administrator of the LA County Regional Park and Open Space District.
"We found that there is a very high or high need for parks throughout the county," said Rita Robinson, the project director of the Parks Needs Assessment, "and we might have known that generally prior to the study, but we wanted to validate that through the data."
The Parks Needs Assessment was submitted to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors on May 3, and the Board unanimously passed a motion for a final draft of the funding measure to be submitted by June 21. The Board will then consider the measure to be placed onto the November ballot.
"The structure of the ballot measure will reflect many of the findings of the Parks Needs Assessment," the Parks Needs Assessment website states.
Informational meetings regarding the Parks Needs Assessment and the potential ballot measure have been taking place in all supervisorial districts throughout the county during the month of May.
If the proposal does not make it onto the ballot this November, "there's always next year," said Robinson, and if a park funding measure should not be passed before Proposition A runs out, the parks will have to rely on state and other souces of funding. But as the Parks Needs Assessment was initiated by the Board of Supervisors, those involved in the project are hopeful that the measure will make it on this year's ballot.
"The Board just has competing interests, and they have to determine which measures have the most potential of making it through," Robinson explained.
The Daily News reported that approximately 69 percent of Los Angeles County voters would support a parcel tax measure to support parks.