Friday, August 22, 2014

From the Los Angeles Times:

Appeared on the front page, Aug. 23, 2014:

"Israel Cruz drives his cluttered Mazda through the palm-lined avenues of Panorama City, a stack of maps at his side and a hurried sweat on his brow.

The 30-year-old in Ray-Bans and brown moccasins is scanning for "lost lots," small slices of city land that are all but forgotten in the neighborhood's suburban sprawl.

His hope is that a database of lots he is compiling for the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust will become a tool for a movement gaining traction in Los Angeles.

Over the last few years, Los Angeles has been moving to convert vacant lots, underused city streets, utility corridors, traffic medians and alleys into small parks, plazas, bikeways and pedestrian corridors in a city woefully short of them.


The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim region now has the highest density among the nation's major urban areas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Los Angeles is considered the worst of the high-density cities for easy access to park spaces, the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit dedicated to creating parks, found in a recent study.

Nearly half of the city's 3.8 million residents do not live within a 10-minute walk to a park, the trust found.

Experts say that's in part because of the way Los Angeles has grown. As the city built out with suburban homes, planners did not leave room for much green space, expecting front lawns to suffice.

But in the 1970s and '80s, as single-family homesites were converted to multifamily or were replaced by apartment complexes, lawns vanished and the city's urban areas became what planners call "park poor," without enough accessible green space for a healthful lifestyle.

The effects are particularly apparent in lower-income neighborhoods.

"It doesn't do a lot of good for a child to look outside of a house in South L.A. to see Griffith Park 20 miles away," said Michael Shull, interim general manager of the city's parks department. "We are trying to bring these parks to them, so it's equitable and they have a place to play."

See the full story here.


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