Compared to other park systems in America’s 100 largest cities, Los Angeles is ranked a lowly 65th behind Milwaukee, Jersey City and Pittsburgh, but that didn’t stop the L.A. City Council’s planning and land-use management committee on Tuesday from approving a controversial zone change that would take away valuable open space in Elysian Valley.
“We oppose this zone change,” said Coalition to Preserve L.A. representative Miki Jackson at the committee hearing yesterday. “One of the most rare things is open space in this city.”
Indeed. According to a comprehensive, nationwide park scoring system created by The Trust for Public Land, Minneapolis ranks number one with the best park system in the U.S. with a score of 86.5 out of 100. San Francisco ranks fifth with a 77.5 and New York City ranks seventh with a 76.
Los Angeles? It has an embarrassingly low score of 45 out of 100. Baltimore and Cleveland rank better.
At Tuesday’s committee hearing, several community activists spoke out in opposing a zone change for land at 2971 Partridge Avenue near the Los Angeles River from “open space” to “commercial/manufacturing.” Robert Leyland, a member of the Elysian Valley Riverside Neighborhood Council, noted that, in 2004, the property was expressly zoned as open space as part of a larger plan to bring more of that space to his heavily Latino community.
Yet today, twelve years later, with City Hall now considering the future use of the Partridge Avenue property, Leyland said that his neighborhood council had been “excluded from the process” and that open space in Elysian Valley was becoming “increasingly corrupted.”
That shouldn’t be surprising. There’s a major push by developers, the L.A. City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti to redevelop the L.A. River. Properties along the river, like the one at Partridge Avenue, have turned into prime real estate, with developers looking to build luxury projects. With millions upon millions of profits to be made, such things as parks and open space matter little to developers and their politician pals.
It’s the kind of thing that prompted Hollywood activist Annie Gagen to ask at the hearing, “Is there anything that the city feels is worth preserving? We need open space!”
Regardless, City Council member and planning and land-use management committee chairman Jose Huizar and his colleagues signed off on the zone change, which now goes before the full City Council for a vote. With the real estate industry giving L.A. politicians more than $6 million in campaign contributions since 2000, it’s likely that L.A. will lose the open space at Elysian Valley — and the nation’s second largest city may further slide down The Trust for Public Land’s rankings.
Enough is enough. We need to reform L.A.’s broken planning and land-use system, which is what the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative will do.
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Developers and their politician pals will do anything to defeat our movement and continue their wrong-headed policies. But together, we, the citizens, can create the change that L.A. needs!