Pocket Plan? Mayor Proposes 50 Small Parks to Address Lack of Open Space

Noting a lack of large, publicly owned, land still available, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced a plan to develop 50 pocket parks scattered throughout the city over the next year and a half.

Most parks will be larger, but pocket parks can be as small as a parking space. Photo from Park(ing) Day LA in 2008 from Waltarr/Flickr

“Neighborhoods – especially those in the most park-poor areas of the City – will be greener, more beautiful and more livable, explained Villaraigosa in a speech yesterday to the Los Angeles Business Council. “And residents will have a new resource and a new reason to enjoy their community.”

The Mayor’s plan was short on details as to where the new parks would be, but the mayor’s press office provided some details on when a final plan would roll out.  A formal announcement, including the 50 park locations, will come in March upon the completion of the city’s current pocket park projects: Wilbur Park and two at the 49th Street School. The design of these parks is similar to the pocket parks at Bellair Ave. Park, Rockwood and Westood Parks.

Currently, Los Angeles has 15,717 acres of public parkland. The city’s standards, which mirror those for other cities in L.A. County and throughout the country call for 10 acres of parkland for every 1,000 residents.   The 2010 Census counts 3,792,621 Angelenos.  To meet its standard, the city would need almost 38,000 acres of open space.

Using pocket parks to increase greenspace has become a hot issue in Los Angles.  On Park(ing) Day earlier this year, Council Members Jose Huizar and Jan Perry called for a “pocket park demonstration project” in Downtown Los Angeles.  Their plan called for the city to experiment by basically making permanent some of the Park(ing) Day demonstration projects.  Downtown L.A. Neighborhood Council Member Valerie Watson commented at the time, “We want people flocking to, not speeding through, Downtown Los Angeles.”

In addition to the pocket park plan, the city is also trying to build larger parks in park poor areas of the city.  The city is raising money and developing a list of 5-20,000 square foot parcels for the parks in historically park-poor neighborhoods.

A pocket park is a small park accessible to the general public.  They frequently appear on a single vacant building lot or on small, irregular pieces of land.

Pocket parks can appear anywhere in the city be it the urban Downtoown, the exhurban Westside or the more suburban parts of the San Fernando Valley.  Although they are too small for physical activities, pocket parks provide greenery, a place to sit outdoors, and sometimes a children’s playground.

Villaraigosa’s speech, entitled “Making Los Angeles Home, Building a More Livable City,” touched on a number of topics including the recession, affordable housing, green space around Farmers Field and America Fast Forward.  Streetsblog obtained a copy of the speech and uploaded it for anyone to read, here.