'Greening' L.A.'s Schoolyards

Advocates for increasing green space on school campuses say giving students a more healthy outdoor environment can also reduce the urban heat island effect and improve public health in historically underserved communities.

March 29, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


According to an article by Tony Barboza, "too many children are forced to learn and play in paved-over, fenced-in and often treeless campuses that draw apt comparisons to prison yards or parking lots." 

"These conditions are detrimental to learning, health and well-being, and especially harmful because they are so common in the same low-income communities of color that already suffer from a lack of tree canopy, park space and higher exposure to heat and pollution." To address this issue, Los Angeles Unified School District’s new superintendent, Alberto Carvalho, "has promised to release a plan within his first 100 days to green schoolyards, starting with asphalt-dominated campuses in neighborhoods with the greatest need for open space."

The new superintendent isn't the first to notice this problem. Last year, Planetizen reported on the Trust for Public Land's analysis of urban schoolyards and their potential to double as much-needed green space in park-poor communities. "Advocacy groups say that despite some success at individual school sites, district and state bureaucracy is a barrier to removing asphalt from school campuses across the city, sometimes because of concerns about increased maintenance costs or due to space requirements for activities like basketball, tetherball and four square that restrict the number of trees and amount landscaping that can be planted."

Barboza points out that converting LAUSD's schoolyards, at less than $2 million per campus, would cost less than building a new park, and argues that the benefits of healthy, green environments outweigh the investment required.

Sunday, March 27, 2022 in Los Angeles Times

Street-level view of sharrow symbol on asphalt with parked car in background

How Sharrows Became Cycling’s Most Hated Symbol

Originally designed as a low-cost way to encourage safer road sharing between bikes and cars, the sharrow has become a symbol of the lack of commitment to protected bike infrastructure in many cities.

August 2, 2022 - Denverite

A image of the World's Columbian Exposition overlayed with a picture of Keanu Reeves in the rain from the movie Point Break.

Keanu Reeves Set to Play Daniel Burnham in ‘The Devil in the White City’

Planning is going to get a new level of star power as a limited series adaptation of The Devil in the White City gets ready for television screens in 2024.

August 8, 2022 - Reel Chicago

Front view of Art Deco 1933 Los Angeles County General Hospital building

Massive, Vacant L.A. Hospital To Become Affordable Housing

The historic building will be redeveloped with over 500 housing units and supportive services on site.

August 1, 2022 - Los Angeles Times

Cars lined up on a street with fire burning in background

Fire Evacuation Planning at the Community Level

Wildfire planning often focuses on individual buildings, but little guidance exists for effective citywide evacuation planning.

4 hours ago - The Atlantic

Rendering of tiny houses in garden setting

Where Is Salt Lake City’s Tiny Home Village?

A proposed ‘tiny home village’ meant to serve as temporary housing for unhoused residents has yet to break ground more than a year after it was announced.

5 hours ago - KUTV

Vision Zero

How Communities Can Leverage Federal Vision Zero Funding To Make Streets Safer

Two safe streets advocates give their recommendations for how to effectively use the $1 billion in annual funding available through a federal grant program.

6 hours ago - Streetsblog USA

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.