In response to a recent needs assessment report that found most Los Angeles County Parks in need of significant improvements, county supervisors will next week consider placing a measure on the November ballot to raise money to pay for future improvements and maintenance.
For the last two decades, funding for county parks was supplemented through Proposition A, a county parks tax, which generated millions of dollars for park projects and maintenance. The special tax is scheduled to expire in June 2019.
In an interview with EGP, Supervisor Hilda Solis explained why she supports the ballot measure proposal.
EGP: Why do parks play a vital role in the lives of Latino residents in particular?
Solis: Parks serve as a gathering place for family barbeques, birthday parties and simple picnics not just for Latino families but for all families. Many densely populated communities do not have the necessary amenities and parks provide an outlet for families either for recreation, learning, socializing and tiny tot programs, exercise and organized sports.
EGP: How important are parks to the health of the community?
Solis: According to a recent report published by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, “Parks and Public Health in Los Angeles County: A Cities and Communities Report”, rates of premature mortality from cardiovascular disease and diabetes and prevalence of childhood obesity were inversely related to park space per capita; as park space per capita decreased, premature mortality from cardiovascular disease and diabetes and prevalence of childhood obesity increased. Park space per capita was also associated with race/ethnicity. African Americans and Latinos were more likely to reside in cities/communities with less park space per capita.
EGP: How could these potential improvements make a difference in your district? In the County?
Solis: When LA County completed the “Park Needs Assessment” it included a price tag of over $20 billion worth of projects. While we know that the County cannot fund everything, we do want all residents to have a park within a 5-minute walk for residents. We have a public health epidemic and would like to build, use of our public spaces as opportunities for recreation, such as walking paths around our cemeteries.
EGP: With another potential tax measure (for transportation) on the ballot, why should County residents welcome this tax for park improvements? And why is there an urgent need to place a parks funding proposition in the November ballot?
Solis: Parks do not have a permanent funding source at the local level or at the State level. Especially with the recent economic down-turn, general fund dollars for health and safety related repairs, deferred maintenance and/or critically needed new parks and amenities have decreased significantly, especially in working and poor communities. To build new parks, local government needs to create funding sources that provide the ability to build new parks, new fitness zones, and new playgrounds.
The County Board of Supervisors will take up needs assessment and proposed ballot measure at its meeting on July5.
For more information about Los Angeles County Parks, visit http://hildalsolis.org/services/for-our-health-recreation-and-memories.Posted - Copyright © 2022 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.