Funding Bureaucracy Highlights L.A.'s Parks Deficit

The city of Los Angeles is currently sitting on more than $130 million dollars intended to build parks. But those funds are tied to council districts high in development, leaving districts with little development high and dry.
March 30, 2008, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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"With City Hall mired in a $300 million budget deficit, Villaraigosa can't pursue 45 new parks without access to a huge pot of so-called Quimby funds - $130 million in riches earmarked for parks that the Parks and Recreation Department has been twiddling its thumbs on for years."

"The trove was revealed last month by City Controller Laura Chick in her audit of the city's Quimby program, named for a state law that charges developers fees of $3,000 to $9,000 per unit of new construction, then sets aside those fees to finance or refurbish parks or civic facilities near the developments."

"News of the massive surplus caused a small scandal, leaving bureaucrats scrambling for excuses. The City Council - whose members are responsible for finding park sites in their districts - seemed befuddled. Councilman Tom LaBonge alone has nearly $10 million in unspent funds in Council District 4, the majority of it extracted from developers of high-density complexes rising near the North Hollywood subway station."

"Yet while LaBonge sits on a fortune, in densely populated South L.A., where very little development is under way, not a single dime of the $130 million pool has been allotted to Councilman Bernard Parks. In his District 8, made up of many working-class and poor neighborhoods with little open space, Parks has already spent his meager $800,000."

"'The real problem,' Min says, 'is that the districts that really need parks have no development to pay for them.'"

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Published on Wednesday, March 26, 2008 in LA Weekly
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