Focus on Urban Parks Helps L.A.
Focus on Urban Parks Helps L.A.Monday, May 1, 2000Focus on Urban Parks Helps L.A.
In the past, a state parks bond issue on the ballot might trigger thoughts of misty North Coast redwoods, oceanside campgrounds, the vast desert tract of Anza Borrego, distant wildlife preserves and a historic site like Sutter's Fort in Sacramento. But this year's state bond issue, approved by voters in March, is significantly different. Of the $2.1 billion in bonds listed in Proposition 12, nearly half will go to local governments and nonprofit groups. Much of that money will be used to create parks and recreation areas in those places that need them the most: urban cores.
Some of the bond funds are earmarked for specific projects such as a wild animal rehabilitation center in the San Bernardino Mountains or improvements to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Other decisions and appropriations must be made by the Legislature and governor; the first step in that process is coming soon. Gov. Gray Davis is likely to have his own list of projects when he submits his revised budget to lawmakers the middle of next month. We urge him to include two excellent proposals for the Los Angeles area near the top of his list.
Former Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa (D-Los Angeles), a strong backer of Proposition 12's urban funding, is proposing a dramatic expansion of a Los Angeles River Parkway. The heart of the enlarged park would be created by the acquisition of Union Pacific Railroad's abandoned 61-acre Taylor Yards, along with 32 acres of the Chinatown Yards near downtown. The parkway also would get money from Proposition 13, a water resources bond issue on the March ballot.
Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Culver City), another urban parks backer, would create a major park and recreation area in the Baldwin Hills, described by advocates as the last large open space in urban Los Angeles County. The region covers about two square miles, most of it the site of oil production over the years. The Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, which was the location of the 1932 Olympic Village, covers some of the hills, but the area remains one of the most "park-poor" areas in California, with barely one acre of other parkland within a five-mile radius of the Baldwin Hills.
The American Land Conservancy and Community Conservancy International say the Baldwin Hills site poses "an extraordinary opportunity to create a state-of-the-art regional recreation and natural area." The land would have to be purchased and environmental studies done because of the potential of oil pollution. Any cleanup could be accomplished as part of the considerable landscaping that would be necessary to turn the scarred land into useful park.
The Los Angeles River Parkway and Baldwin Hills park are both ideas that would provide some greenery, relaxation and recreation to urban dwellers. Davis should strongly endorse them for appropriations this year.http://www.latimes.com/news/comment/20000 >501/t000041086.html