Recreation Management - Ideas and Solutions for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

October 2017


L.A. Parks Earn Mostly Positive Report Card

Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

Health Club Memberships Up, Led by Youth & Older Adults - October 2017

Dallas Park Recognized With ASLA Award - October 2017

Adult Obesity Rates Leveling Off - October 2017

Improving Kids' Wellness—In the Classroom - October 2017

Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Development Continues - September 2017

Louisville Splash 'n' Dash 5K Raises $35,000+ for Norton Children's Hospital - September 2017

Philadelphia Eagles Go Green - September 2017

High School Sports Participation Up, Nearing 8 Million - September 2017

Inside South Side High School's Redevelopment - August 2017

New Health Research Conducted at Special Olympics - August 2017

Protect Players From Heat - August 2017

Tackling the Active Play Deficit - August 2017

Botanical Garden Partners With Businesses on Health - July 2017

Survey Examines Parents' View of Play - July 2017

Kids Swim Free in Tucson This Summer - July 2017

Building Communities to Encourage Physical Activity - June 2017

California Campus Converts Courts to Golf Practice Space - June 2017

Where Are the Nation's Top City Park Systems? - June 2017

KaBOOM! Brings Play to Military Kids - May 2017

USA Basketball Open Court Sessions Get Youths Into the Game - May 2017

Educators Push Legislators to Support Health & Physical Education Programs - May 2017

NFHS Revises Rules for Competitive Spirit Squads - May 2017

Pool & Spa Professionals Fight Immigration Restrictions - April 2017

Grants Available to Boost Dog Parks - April 2017

New Aquatic Management Program Aims to Improve Safety, Efficiency - April 2017

16 Cities Nationwide to Receive Park Improvement Funding - April 2017

Study Confirms: People Pee in Pools - March 2017

Volunteers Get Hands-On History Experience in Virginia - March 2017

Park Hop Inspires Park Usage - March 2017

National Health Campaign Reaches 228,000 Youth in Three Years - March 2017

Outdoor REC Act Signed Into Law - February 2017

Happy 125th B-Day B-Ball! - February 2017

Study Shows Majority—Even Athletes—Are 'Overfat' - February 2017

Gym-Goers Like YMCA Best; Planet Fitness Winning Market Share - February 2017

Georgia State Park Celebrates Its Dark Sky Status - January 2017

Texas Tech Focuses on Functional Fitness - January 2017

Preventing Pool Closings - January 2017

Majority of U.S. Households Visit Attractions - January 2017

City of Henderson Awarded for Water Safety Programs - December 2016

Grant Brings Outdoor Fitness Area to Park - December 2016

Alliance Recommends Actions to Improve Kids' Activity Stats - December 2016

Retractable Enclosures Help YMCAs Cut Costs, Boost Membership - November 2016

Huge Project Seeks to Rebuild Monarch Habitats - November 2016

Report: Camping More Popular Than Ever - November 2016

ACSM Predicts 2017 Fitness Trends - November 2016

CDC: More Than One-Quarter of 50-Plus U.S. Adults Don't Exercise - October 2016

Park District Recognized for Collaboration Efforts - October 2016

Americans Support Increased Local Funding for Parks & Rec - October 2016

High School Sports Participation Up for 27th Consecutive Year - October 2016

National Park Service Celebrates 100 Years of Successful Partnerships - October 2016

By Deborah L. Vence

While community parks in the city of Los Angeles received good grades for playgrounds, trails and gyms, restrooms scored lower, a C and below, in fact, based on maintenance and cleanliness, according to new report cards issued by L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin.

The report cards took a look at community parks in Los Angeles and discovered that park users reported general satisfaction with their local parks, but many indicated that cleanliness and safety concerns deter them from using their community parks more.

The report urged the city's Department of Recreation & Parks (RAP) to push for improvements to safety, sanitary conditions, environmental sustainability, and programs and services, while being open about the results with L.A. residents. Galperin launched parkgrade.la, an interactive map of the city's parks, to display the grades, a community survey, in-depth environmental case studies and social media snapshots of how the city's residents use their local parks.

The grades were based on visits to 40 of Los Angeles' 95 specifically designated community parks, ranging in size from less than an acre to 77.6 acres. KH Consulting Group, USC faculty and the RAND Corporation assessed the condition of various amenities and facilities.

"Our parks are so important to our quality of life, providing recreational outlets for all ages, much-needed green space and venues for community-building," Galperin stated in a press release. "I hope city leaders will use my report card to drive improvements at city parks to better serve all Angelenos."

Some of the challenges faced by the city's RAP department, Galperin noted, included having added 37 parks, for a total of 444, in the past nine years. Meanwhile, funding for maintenance of parks decreased to about $81 million, while staffing was cut by 33 percent from 2,117 employees to 1,421 employees over the same period. The rise in homelessness added to the challenge of maintenance, too.

A survey that was conducted of more than 3,700 park users offered similar assessments of the community parks as the consultants. Safety concerns were cited by 46 percent of respondents as deterrents to using parks more; 37 percent indicated maintenance as being their largest concern. Generally, community parks in the Westside of the city and West San Fernando Valley fared best, while those located in the East Valley and downtown, south of downtown and Eastside areas, received lower grades.

The report recommended the following:

  • Expanding and regularizing the report card model to include more parks and annual or semi-annual assessments. Such a project could be undertaken by RAP or by a nonprofit partner.
  • Stepped-up and proactive maintenance: The city of L.A. and RAP must invest more resources in cleaning and ongoing and preventive maintenance. RAP would further benefit from using a city-wide asset inventory and asset management system.
  • Have a clear plan for maintenance of any new parks before approving them.
  • Enhanced programming and events such as dances, concerts and competitions at underused parks, particularly in areas with high population densities.
  • Closing of the gender gap in the use of community parks by aligning park design, programs and other elements to better engage and offer services and amenities to girls and to women.
  • Stronger partnerships with the Los Angeles Police Department and community groups to improve public safety and security.
  • Improved water conservation, watershed management and environmental stewardship.
  • Better management of homelessness, with expanded cooperation with other agencies offering homelessness, mental health and other social services to address challenges posed by homeless encampments at the city's parks.