Woman Dedicates Life to Fixing Local Park

Viviana Franco became a planner so she could reform a park 100 ft. from her childhood home in Hawthorne, CA. But her quest has become mired in local politics as the site was sold in a local auction.
August 31, 2008, 9am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"When she was a kid, it was her proving ground -- the spot where she played baseball against her brothers, where she learned to ride a bike as construction of the 105 began.

When she was a teenager, her parents sent her to private school in Torrance. She discovered the "other" South Bay -- Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills -- and began to ask hard questions: "Why don't they have a liquor store on every block? Why is it so green?"

When she became an adult, she earned a master's degree in urban planning at UCLA specifically to clean up the lot and replace its hardscrabble dirt with a blanket of grass.

She's 30 now, a ferocious community advocate with four tattoos and a nose piercing. Nothing has changed.

Franco's zeal and idealism have run headlong into reality -- into local politics, dizzying bureaucracy, a weak economy. The lot, the way she tells it, has become a singular, hidden monument to land-use inequity -- to the discrepancy in green space available to the wealthy and the poor."

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Published on Friday, August 29, 2008 in The Los Angeles Times
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