How should we determine the park needs of communities? How do we figure out whether a city is park-rich or park-poor? Traditionally, park need is measured by the amount of parkland in a city per 1,000 residents and then compared to some standard or goal. For example, if you take a look at the Parks and Recreation Elements of General Plans for most cities in California, you will find a standard or goal for parkland expressed in terms of X acres per 1,000 residents. Recently, I read an article in Builder which identifies the top ten cities in the U.S. with the most park acreage per 1,000 households. [Read more…] about How Should Park Needs be Measured?
Parks & Recreation Facilities
Have you ever heard of Westlake Park? This was a park that was once referred to as “the most popular open-air resort in the city” (page 17 of Kevin Roderick’s book on Wilshire Boulevard). Opened in 1890, the park was loved by the people of Los Angeles and offered the perfect venue for leisurely strolls, boating in a lake, and popular Sunday concerts. The park was surrounded by luxury hotels and the area even became known as the Champs-Élysées of Los Angeles. You may be wondering, where is this great park and how come I have not been there yet? [Read more…] about What about MacArthur Park?
Whenever “public transit” is mentioned here in Los Angeles, most people immediately think of Metro and the transportation services it offers. This is only logical considering that Metro directly operates bus and rail services, and provides funding and directs planning for commuter rail and freeway/expressway projects within Los Angeles County. While Metro’s projects and accomplishments are well-documented and regularly covered in the news, I would instead like to draw attention to another public agency that is doing a lot to meet the local transportation needs of residents in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County: the County’s Department of Public Works (DPW). Specifically, this article discusses the shuttle services offered by DPW as an example of how critical it is to connect the dots, i.e. linking residents to popular community destinations such as parks, libraries, government offices, schools, and shopping centers. [Read more…] about Connecting the Dots: Shuttle Services for Unincorporated Areas
A few weeks ago, I was in Seattle for the American Planning Association (APA)’s National Planning Conference. In addition to learning with and from other planners, I also had the opportunity to present in a session entitled “Collaboration for Healthy Communities in LA County” that focused on the creation and accomplishments of Los Angeles County’s Healthy Design Workgroup (which I shared about previously in Coordination: Can’t Plan Without It). Like the conferences I attended in recent years, this one offered a wide variety of informative and useful sessions and mobile workshops. As a park planner, I naturally gravitated towards those related to parks and recreation. Summarized below are the sessions that I found most interesting and want to highlight in this article: [Read more…] about APA Conference: Lessons from Seattle
Was one of your new year’s resolution to exercise more? If yes, where have you been doing your exercise routines? Nowadays, many people immediately think of private gyms like LA Fitness or 24 Hour Fitness as the most effective and/or popular places to get fit. But as we all know, gym membership is not cheap and not everyone can afford it. As part of my research as a doctoral student and my work as a park planner, I have learned that the median household incomes in a number of urban unincorporated communities (like Florence-Firestone, Lennox, East Los Angeles, and Willowbrook) in Los Angeles County are well below the countywide median ($55,909 in 2013). This suggests that many residents are more likely to rely on free or lower-cost options for recreation and exercise because they simply have little or no money to spend on amenities and programs offered by private recreational facilities. So what opportunities are there for those do not have the means to join a private gym? [Read more…] about Where Do You Exercise? – Public and affordable fitness resources in LA
As the year winds down, I think this is a good time to reflect on the happenings of 2014 and look ahead to 2015. Since I have already shared my reflections (see What is this Planner Thankful For?), I want to take some time now to talk about some events that planners, architects, and landscape architects can look forward to in the new year. For those of you who follow my writing, you know that I am a big fan of conferences. As I explained in Rest for the Weary Planner, I see conferences as opportunities to learn, grow, network, and be encouraged. I always return to work from conferences feeling refreshed and more prepared to take on the work that awaits me. In 2014, I was fortunate to be able to attend four events or conferences that contributed to my professional and personal growth: UCLA Extension Land Use Law & Planning Conference, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr: A Vision for the American West, National Outdoor Recreation Conference, and APA California Conference. Without further ado, here are ten conferences and meetings that may be of interest to those in the fields of planning, architecture, and landscape architecture: [Read more…] about Looking Ahead to 2015: Events for Planners
If you have to capture “urban planning” using just two or three words, what would you say? I distinctly remember being asked this question while I was a graduate student. The words that immediately jumped to my mind were foresight, hope, and coordination. [Read more…] about Coordination: Can’t Plan Without It