Viewpoints: Support Parks, Vote Yes on P

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By Luis López

Few civic endeavors in Los Angeles over the past century have captivated our collective imagination like plans to revitalize the L.A. River. They promise to transform this legendary waterway, from which our city actually takes its name, into a grand centerpiece and ecosystem for all Angelenos to enjoy. But accomplishing this feat does not happen without real and sustained investment. That’s where Proposition P comes in.

On the November 4th ballot, Proposition P brings the vision of the L.A. River to life along with new parks, open space, and bikeways throughout L.A. County, many in extremely park-poor communities. It generates $54 million a year for 30 years through an annual $23 per-parcel tax, replacing Proposition A, the Safe Neighborhood Parks Measure passed in 1992, which is set to expire in June. Without it, $54 million per year for parks goes away. Gone with it would be the funding to protect green space, build new recreation projects, and improve existing neighborhood and regional parks where people realize the many health benefits of exercise near home.

Since 1992, this funding stream has delivered nearly 1,500 projects for L.A. County residents. Among them are improvements to Echo Park Lake and surrounding park grounds and new hiking trails and children’s play areas in Elysian Park. The L.A. River has also benefited with the acquisition of nearby lands for the restoration of natural river resources and bikeway improvements including new benches, fencing, and planting of native plants.

Proposition P enjoys the support of a broad coalition of environmental and business organizations, including the L.A. County Bike Coalition and L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce, and a wide array community-based organizations focused on land-use and parks. The opposition predictably includes those concerned about excessive taxes, like Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich. But opponents also include those who point to the lack of public input or discussion on the design of the measure as a reason to oppose it. One of L.A.’s major papers also declared its opposition to Prop P on similar grounds.

Why not, they argue, spend two years on hearings and consultation to determine the precise needs of the county’s parks as took place with Prop A? And why does Prop P not include an itemized list of projects to be improved? Is there a better way to allocate dollars than dividing a portion of the funds equally among the five supervisors?

There are endless ways to tinker with Proposition P to make it better. But when a voter-approved funding stream this important is about to expire, throwing out the baby with the bath water is imprudent. The investments of Proposition A over the last two decades have been significant, but we are nowhere near done. The inadequacy of parks in our county–and our responsibility to maintain them–warrant continued investment. To let go of 30 years of critical funding now would be irresponsible, a squandered opportunity.

Concerns over process or lack of input in the measure’s design should not blur what is clearly a wise and necessary investment of tax dollars. This Election Day, our capacity to create and sustain such special public places, like the gorgeously transformed Marsh Park on the L.A. River and hundreds of others, is on the ballot. Join me in voting Yes to fulfill the full potential of a thriving L.A. river that can be enjoyed by thousands of Angelenos for generations to come.

Luis López is a nonprofit healthcare director and former president of the City of Los Angeles’ East Area Planning Commission.

Viewpoints & Ideas is where Eastsider readers can express their opinions, start a conversation and share ideas on neighborhood  issues,  problems and potential.


  1. I am pretty sure I got $23 worth of use out of echo park lake this year and my property value likely went up a lot more than that. The LA river will improve community lifefor a much wider population and for those who claim to be business minded and fiscally responsibile.. . . even if you don’t think it is good for kids to have a place to play. . . the return on investment will likely be huge in terms of property values. I don’t even know what “no taxes” people are arguing for when some taxes like this create wealth however you define it.

    • @roberto: $23 per year for enjoyment of parks. That’s a good way to put it in perspective.

      I read the op-ed in the LAT against the proposition, and they do make a case against it. But ultimately, their case comes down to griping about process. Ultimately I think it would be better to focus on getting the results we want, and the relatively small cost of the levy. Count me convinced on Yes.

  2. I voted against Proposition P for a simple reason: Due to the timing, the County will tax my property twice the amount it says it needs for two years before the prior tax levy expires. Secondarily, I found the argument that public consensus building would improve the proposal to be persuasive. It cannot be disputed that the County Supervisors rolled this proposal out at the last minute. Let’s do some better planning and stretch the positive impacts far beyond that of the LA RIver, which is going to attract private investment without much need for public subsidy.

  3. Want my support? Stop building crap parks like Rio de Los Angeles and LASHP. Get quality designers and don’t pull bait and switches like LASHP. I don’t trust the parks deptment with any money at this pojnt.

    • Isn’t LASHP still under construction? Seems a bit unfair to judge a park that hasn’t even been built out yet, no?

      • The current construction is version 2. It was previously designed and built but they decided to on a do-over.

        • The “Not a Cornfield” project was a joke too. It was a vanity project funded by Annenberg money. The artist actually made a determination about where she was going to place elements by where a hawk landed as though it were speaking to her. The city loves to hire hacks for these projects.

      • It’s very easy to judge a park being built. They spent a ton of money on a competition with quality landscape architects. Sold the community on the project based on the winning design. Then they scrapped that design completely and gave the project to a banal firm in San Diego. The new designs are pretty awful. Then on top of that, the parks department just destroyed the majority of the trees that had been growing there on the temporary park for the past 8 years even thouh they could have easily transplanted them and saved a bunch of money and resources.

  4. Voting Yes on Prop P. It does not start to be levied until Prop A Sunsets. Why stop the momentum of Prop A because a few County supes were late to the party? This measure also provides for a maintenance component which is critical! the State, City and County continue to build parks with no maintenance plan…..This is a smart affordable measure. Vote Yes on Prop P

  5. There is no money set aside in this tax for the LA River or any other specific project. It’s politicians grabing our wallets and asking us to trust that they’ll figure it all out. I’ll vote yes for the next one if it spells out where our money is going. No no no for now.

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