Mayor Eric Garcetti has signed an executive directive to increase access to parks and open space and improve tree canopies in underserved communities.
“Parks and open space are essential to a good quality of life and everyone, no matter their zip code, deserves equal access to both,” said Garcetti. “This Directive will build on our efforts to address park equity and solidify our commitment to ensuring that the health and environmental benefits of parks are accessible to all Angelenos.”
Executive Directive 31 mandates the development of an independent analysis of the City’s parks, including recommendations to improve equity. A working group composed of city department leadership, local park experts, and community members will guide the implementation of those recommendations.
The directive further mandates increased spending on efforts to build and restore parkland and improve park access in areas of highest need in the city. City departments must develop plans to not only build and restore more parks throughout the City, but do so in areas with fewer parks and public green spaces. In addition, employment opportunities made possible through the directive must prioritize youth, seniors, and other vulnerable groups through programs like Hire LA’s Youth and LA Rise.
Communities with less access to park space per capita have higher rates of premature mortality from cardiovascular disease and diabetes, a higher prevalence of obesity and activity-related chronic illness among children, and greater economic hardship compared with those with more park space per capita.
By increasing park acreage in 347 census tracts with park deficits and low tree canopy levels, the city can gain up to approximately 64,350 years in life expectancy among the population living in those neighborhoods, according to research by the Prevention Institute and UCLA.
Since taking office in 2013, Garcetti has opened 37 new parks, acquired over 164 acres of new parkland, and invested millions of dollars in new park improvements.
In 2013, approximately 52.5 percent of Angelenos lived within half a mile of a park; Today that number has increased to 64 percent, putting the City on its way to reaching a goal of L.A.’s Green New Deal to have 75 percent of Angelenos living within walking distance of a park by 2035.