On August 13th, Environmental Defense's Los Angeles environmental justice project office released the report Walking to the Park: Recommendations for the formation of an Urban Land Trust to serve the City of Los Angeles, a study which represents a two-year effort between Environmental Defense, local community groups and City officials. At a press conference this morning announcing the release of the report and his endorsement of its recommendations, L.A. Mayor Jim Hahn joined L.A. City Council members Eric Garcetti and Ed Reyes, and members of the Verde Coalition in celebrating the new initiative. The Verde Coalition, coordinated by Environmental Defense, is a diverse group of 13 economic development organizations, environmental justice groups, local unions, and community organizations working to improve the quality of life in the dense, urban core of Los Angeles.
The report's conclusions concerning the structure of a land trust, to be called the Neighborhood Oasis Land Trust, have now been endorsed by community stakeholders and City officials, paving the way for the implementation phase of the project. Millions of dollars will eventually be applied toward land purchases and park maintenance through the land trust, one of the first of its kind in the nation.
"The realization of our vision of a park in every neighborhood would provide every resident of L.A. the chance to experience the simple joy of walking to the park – a pleasure currently denied to many of our citizens," said Misty Sanford, policy analyst at Environmental Defense.
L.A. residents currently have only a fraction of the park space per person that is recommended by the National Recreation and Parks Association. The NRPA recommends 10 acres per 1000 residents while the 5 poorest of L.A.'s 15 city council districts have just .455 acres of park space per 1000 residents, less than 1/20th of the recommended space per person. Numerous studies have shown the introduction of park space to have a number of social benefits such as crime reduction, greater business activity and community pride.
"By utilizing a community-based planning model to create local parks, the trust will tap into considerable local knowledge and energy, which in turn will stimulate community interaction and neighborhood revitalization," said Luis Flores, a policy analyst for Environmental Defense.
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