Healing Neighborhoods Through Park Equity

Learn more about ways to improve park equity with Norma García-González, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, and Catherine Nagel, the executive director of the City Parks Alliance.

2 minute read

December 6, 2023, 10:00 AM PST

By Clement Lau

Red picnic benches in lush forested area in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California.

Walter Cicchetti / Adobe Stock

How is park equity being advanced in Los Angeles County and in other cities across the country?  This episode of Resources Radio, a weekly podcast from Resources for the Future, addresses this and other related questions.  Specifically, host Margaret Walls interviews Norma García-González, the director of L.A. County's Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), and Catherine Nagel, the executive director of the City Parks Alliance

Some of the notable quotes include:

  • Urban park systems are booming: “The fact is that in the last half-century, we’ve seen a growth in the urban population. So, the need for, and the number of, urban parks has grown, and there’s been a true renaissance of park-making that is doing so many things for cities beyond just providing the traditional recreation benefits.” —Nagel 
  • Community engagement can foster support for public parks: “We resoundingly heard how critical parks are and the need to create more parks, especially in communities of color and urban areas, as well as the critical importance of taking care of park infrastructure … There was a lot of critical data, but what really happened is we created this movement that was centered in community, and that really set the stage in our Park Needs Assessment to provide data that informed [a ballot initiative to fund public parks], which was resoundingly approved by the voters in Los Angeles County, receiving almost 75 percent of voter approval.” —García-González 
  • Some urban park systems are using data to inform more equitable decision-making: “[Some cities] were not just addressing [inequities], but they were using data to make the decisions about how they were going to use public budgets to address the needs of the communities that had really not been paid attention to for many years. We saw cities using data sets to look at, for example, air quality and what part of the city had high levels of pollution and asthma rates … That’s a very new approach to how a community can make a decision about its use and appropriation of public funds.” —Nagel 
  • There is a significant need to restore and heal degraded lands: “We have created a road map in Los Angeles County that not only looks at areas where we need to conserve park lands, public lands, but in areas where we need to restore and heal lands to support and to address deep environmental burdens that have come with toxicities and degraded lands. So, we have now gone beyond just building parks in high-need communities to thinking about using this data to heal land and to restore degraded lands as an environmental-restoration initiative for Los Angeles County.” —García-González 

To listen and learn more, please go to the source link. 

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