Elysian Park’s problems mount as $12.5 million in funds go unused



Hundreds of trees are dead or dying across  Elysian Park.  The homeless live in countless encampments under shrubs and steep hillsides. Park goers complain of poorly maintained trails and trash. There’s no shortage of problems that need fixing. But more than four years after a $12.5 million “enhancement fund” was established for the Elysian Park area, the city still does not have a plan for how to spend that money.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power originally established the $12.5 million Community Parks Enhancement Fund back in April 2012 as part of a deal to cover over the open-air Elysian Reservoir.  But those funds have been left untouched.  In July, the commissioners who oversee the Department of Recreation and Parks voted to finally accept $12.5 million for improvement. But the report from the parks commissioners accepting the money states that “no specific purposes are established at this time.”

The report goes on to say, “Best efforts shall be used to locate enhancements in the Elysian Park area. However, if no suitable enhancements can be located in the Elysian Park area, best efforts shall be used to locate enhancements in a comparable urban area or areas.”

Diana Bulnes, a spokeswoman for Recreation and Parks, said updates will come once specific plans go to the board for approval.

Have an idea on how to spend that $12.5 million? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

Barry Lank grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, then went away for a seriously long time. He has worked in TV and radio, and currently helps produce The Final Edition Radio Hour.

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  1. The condition of the trees in Elysian Park is so tragic, particularly when all along there’s been money available for maintenance and upkeep. Along with so many other areas of the park, one of the most neglected areas is between Elysian Park Drive and Sargent Place. It seems the answer of Recreation and Parks is to cut down the trees rather than be proactive and saving them. I have lived across from the park for over 30 years and have yet to see any consistent maintenance let along improvement in this most neglected area of the park.

  2. Re: Elysian Park has 12.5 million dollars? They don’t know what to do with the money? I can’t believe it. I assumed we were broke.

    Water the trees! Right away! Tomorrow! Get started! These trees are our common wealth and they are being squandered. Dodgers? Match these funds. The people in Beverly Hills using 180,000 gallons? Step up!

  3. Every time I go to Elysian Park these days it just depresses me. So many dead or dying trees. It has to be one of the most neglected public parks in L.A. I can’t believe they’ve been sitting on $12.5 million for four years – the park has deteriorated considerably within that time.

  4. Question – how many million will they spend on developing a plan to spend the $12.5 million?

  5. Parks officials too busy trying to break into he concert business with the Greek Theatre. Shameful.

  6. Their is already a fantastic plan in place that was done in 2006 that never was implemented. At the time they didn’t have the funds It would remove all non native dying plants anddtrees and plant all natives. Elysian Park would be an example for all parks of how beautiful California Natives are and how important they are to support native wildlife.


    A great plan is in place, 12.5 million is there.

    Let’s get going on it

    We need to start The time is now

  7. What everyone said above, plus I’m still hoping for a traffic signal at Elysian Park Dr. and Stadium Way.

  8. In addition to caring for the nature/trails, the playground on academy is very unsafe- the tall slide with no safety rail is a badly injured child and a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  9. I hope they don’t use that shortsighted native tree only plan. Using a couple species of tree, black walnut and oak, is asking for a pest or disease to wipe out half the planting. Sure plant those, but also plant drought tolerant exotics to maximize biodiversity and resiliency.

  10. chill! plans are afoot on how to spend the $12.5 mil. it just takes time to plan and design the improvements.

  11. Water the trees, Plant some new ones, add a couple benches for the views? remove the homeless camps.

  12. There is an immediate and horribly sad need to just water the 100 year old (or more) trees. Part of the master plan that was suggested in 2006 recommends that only native plants should be allowed in the park, but the grassy area (seriously not native) are still allowed to live while the rest of the vegetation, including eucalyptus, which actually need very little water, are allowed to die, endandering hikers through falling branches and local residents because of the increased fire hazard. This is untenable and dangerous and our City councilmen Mitch O’Farrell and Gill Cedillo have refused to take action. Long term native growth is positive, but not at the cost public safety and our irreplaceable old growth trees.

  13. They could fix the Northeast Los Angeles Little League snackbar…IJS

  14. I remember taking part in those master plan discussions. Seems like all we do is make plans (for parks/open space/LARiver/Community Plan etc) and if approved, they’re forgotten and ignored. Or theyre mired in years of hearings then buried by commissions when it doesn’t live up to the politicians’ expectations. They hope the longtime activists will move, die, give up. Yeah, remind me, when has that ever worked in Echo Park? How many politicians have we outlived here?

  15. This is such hypocrisy – our block association (Park Dr.) has been working for a couple of years to try and get the parks dept. to turn the water back on for the trees along the streets that front the park, as well as IN the park. Elysian is starting to look like a dead, clear-cut forest. Did you know that there are already existing lines and sprinklers – IN the park as well as on the border streets? The parks turned them off because they don’t want to maintain them!!(this is true for Park Drive and other streets).

    Mitch O’Farrell refuses to respond (he has a woman on his staff who is leading the fight AGAINST watering trees along the bordering streets – go figure…).

    We elect some of these officials (O’Farrell) and they won’t even give us the courtesy of a response to our letters. Time to move up the food chain. This fight is not over.

    • I am reminded of Grace E. Simons’ powerful 1960s-era protest for the protection of Elysian Park against development interests, when concerned citizens mailed fallen leaves to their representatives at City Hall.

      It would be a great photo op to dump leaves on the steps and call a press conference demanding the trees be saved.

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