Rural communities are not homogeneous. Each has its own unique demographics, location, topography, history, park and recreation needs, and community preferences.
What are the unique park and recreation needs of rural areas and what are the best ways to address them? These are key questions for local park agencies to answer. To that end, the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), for example, has conducted various park planning efforts to collect input from residents in rural communities.
One of these planning projects is the 2022 Parks Needs Assessment Plus (PNA+), which is a focused update to the 2016 Los Angeles Countywide Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment (PNA). The PNA was a historic undertaking to engage all cities and the unincorporated areas in Los Angeles County in a collaborative process to identify and quantify park needs and determine the potential cost of meeting that need. The PNA+ builds on the PNA by providing a more in-depth and nuanced understanding of regional and rural park needs. To address a motion passed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 2019, PNA+ comprehensively identifies, analyzes, maps, and documents the availability of and access to regional facilities and the park needs of rural communities.
In this article, park planner Clement Lau summarizes key findings from PNA+ regarding rural park and recreation needs. He also offers examples of ways to address the identified needs, such as developing new parks, improving and expanding existing parks, replacing destroyed or damaged recreational facilities, acquiring additional open space, and providing public transportation to regional and rural park sites.
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Harvard GSD Executive Education
Harvard GSD Executive Education
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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.