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Are gross bathrooms keeping people away from LA parks?

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A new report shows poor maintenance is a big issue at parks around Los Angeles

Macarthur Park with Downtown in background
MacArthur Park received a C-grade overall on the controller’s report card—and a failing grade in cleanliness.

Los Angeles has nearly 450 city parks, ranging from tiny pocket parks to sprawling Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon. But how attractive are these facilities to the people who live around them?

That’s the question posed by City Controller Ron Galperin in a new report on Los Angeles parks. Galperin asked researchers to evaluate 40 parks around Los Angeles and assign them letter grades based on factors like cleanliness, landscaping, and amenities available to visitors.

Overall, the parks didn’t fare too badly, but maintenance and restroom cleanliness (or lack thereof) drove down overall grades for many of the parks. Of the 40 parks evaluated, 22 received C-level grades or lower in the restroom category. In overall cleanliness, 16 parks got a C grade or lower.

A survey of thousands of park users further revealed that 37 percent would use parks in their area more if the facilities were better maintained.

A chart on the controller’s website shows that parks on the Westside and western San Fernando Valley scored far higher than parks in the central and eastern parts of the city.

No park received higher than an A-minus, but Culver Slauson Park came closest, getting high marks in every category except the quality of its athletic fields. MacArthur Park, David M. Gonzales Recreation Center, and Sun Valley Park all received C grades and finished in a three-way tie for last place.

Galperin notes in a release that 37 new parks have opened in the past nine years, but Recreation and Parks staff has been cut 33 percent during the same period and the department’s budget has dwindled to $81 million per year.

To address problems like this, Galperin recommends the city dedicate more resources to park maintenance and adopt a report card-style grading system for parks throughout Los Angeles. He also suggests that city officials come up with “a clear plan for maintenance” of new parks before signing off on their creation.

Curious about how parks in your neighborhood fared in the report’s letter grade system? Here’s an interactive map that will lead you to that information and more.