Open spaces along the Los Angeles River have increasingly come under threat by greedy developers looking to build luxury mega-projects with the backing of L.A. City Hall — the L.A. River-adjacent neighborhoods of Elysian Valley and Atwater Village have been constantly targeted for such overdevelopment. It’s a troubling trend that could negatively impact beautiful, much-needed parks and the quality of life of Eastside residents.
Below, photographer Susan Hunter shows just how important it is for communities to have parks near the L.A. River. At Rio de Los Angeles State Park at 1900 N. San Fernando Road, young people have a safe sanctuary to play basketball, soccer and softball; residents take a hike after a long day’s work; and other residents can take a break from the constant speed of city life and simply enjoy the beauty of nature.
Los Angeles, as a whole, doesn’t have nearly enough open public spaces, and can’t afford to lose anymore — compared to other major American cities, L.A. consistently gets low marks for having an embarrassing lack of park space.
According to a comprehensive, nationwide park scoring system of America’s 100 largest cities, The Trust for Public Land found that Los Angeles ranked a lowly 65th behind Milwaukee, Jersey City, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cleveland.
A lack of parks is a serious public health issue, which a 2016 L.A. County Public Health Department study pointed out:
Cities and communities with less park space per capita on average had higher rates of premature mortality from cardiovascular disease and diabetes, higher prevalence of childhood obesity, and greater economic hardship compared with cities and communities with more park space per capita.
City Hall politicians need to step up and protect L.A. River open spaces and parks.
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