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Just How Park Poor is Los Angeles County?

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Half of residents don't live within 10 minutes of a park, and other sad park facts about LA County

Next month, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider putting a parcel tax on the ballot that could be used to raise funds for open, green spaces—important considering that a recent parks-needs assessment conducted at the behest of the board found that 51 percent of county residents don't live within a 10-minute walk (half a mile) of a park.

The report looked at more than 3,000 parks in the county, across 86 cities. Among the most park-poor areas were South LA, Sun Valley, Van Nuys, North Long Beach, and Baldwin Park.

The timing is important too: one big income source for park creation is on the verge of expiring (and another has already done so), says the Daily News. Together, they accounted for $80 million a year for parks.

What's being proposed to compensate for those losses is a parcel tax—the "most likely proposal" is one that would amount to 3 cents per square foot for built-out property like a single-family house or a commercial structure. That would mean that a 1,500-square-foot building would generate $45 a year, but altogether, the tax would bring in around $198 million in a year.

That might sound like a lot, but considering that the parks-needs assessment found that there are actually about $21.5-billion worth of priority projects in existing parks, it's really not. "58 percent of park amenities in the county are either in poor or fair condition while nearly 80 percent of county parks have infrastructure that is either fair or poor," the report found.

A similar attempt to raise funds for parks in 2014 (Proposition P) failed by a slim margin, with many opponents saying that there were not enough assurances that high-need areas would get commensurate funding. This time, money would be allotted according to a list of priority projects; the needs assessment singled out 1,800 such projects.