Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Thursday celebrated the opening of two "pocket" parks that are part of his plan to transform at least 50 small vacant plots into city parks in neighborhoods with the least access to recreation space.
With $80.9 million in public and private funding, the city has acquired 39 properties and opened three pocket parks. Fourteen more properties are in the purchase or lease negotiation phase. In Marina del Rey, a new park will be created on Via Dolce. The park is still in pre-design phase.
"We have scouted the city, looked in the hidden corners and found the small parcels, the vacant lots and the weedy patches that would be perfect for neighborhood parks," Villaraigosa said at the official opening of 49th Street Park in South Los Angeles.
"The 50 Parks Initiative is putting some much-needed nature in neighborhood after neighborhood," he said.
The Department of Recreation and Parks in 2009 began a study using population density, median household income, poverty statistics and the number of parks within a one-half mile radius to determine the neighborhoods most in need of the parks.
The parks will collectively add 170 acres of new recreation space, according to the mayor's office.
"In dense, urban communities throughout Los Angeles, there is a desperate need for more park space," Councilwoman Jan Perry said.
She called the 50 Parks Initiative "a unique opportunity for the city to address blight, green communities, and create neighborhood parks."
The pocket parks will include automatic gate-locking systems and solar-powered trash compactors to reduce maintenance costs by the cash-strapped Department of Recreation and Parks. The parks were also designed with so-called "no-mow" turf, drought-tolerant plants and LED lighting to keep water and energy costs down.
Many of the parks are located on properties that were left vacant as a result of the housing crisis and cannot be rehabilitated. The strategy works in concert with federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
Within one mile of the McKinley Avenue and 49th Street pocket parks, the Los Angeles Housing Department has rehabilitated 19 properties using NSP funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The city has made an additional 114 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded improvements in the neighborhoods within one mile of the parks.