Little, leafy-green patches are sprouting up over Los Angeles as part of the city’s “50 Parks Initiative,” a public-private program designed to revive some of the city’s neediest, most densely populated communities. To date, there are actually 53 of these pocket parks planned, with one of the first parks, 49th Street Park in South Los Angeles, opening earlier this month. When completed, the small parks combined will cover a total of 170 acres, and many of the individual parks will be under an acre.
Not only are the parks small, but they will be somewhat self-sufficient. Requiring only four to six months to build, these micro-recreation areas will be decked out with “no mow” grass, drought tolerant plants, smart irrigation, and solar-powered, self-contained waste bins that can hold five times the average amount of trash. And to keep intruders out after hours, automatic time-lock gates and solar motion-activated cameras will be installed.
Adding to the good news, these pocket parks tap unused lands. Many will be located on foreclosed properties that cannot be rehabilitated or tucked away on vacant parking lots. Designed to serve people within walking distance of the park, they offer a hyper-local community center. Funding for the parks comes from federal grants such as the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and from over a dozen other sources including local, state, private, nonprofit, and corporate donations. A special nod goes to the Department of Recreation and Parks Board of Commissioners and the Los Angeles Parks Foundation who are the driving forces behind this initiative. Parks and Rec will be overseeing park designs and working with neighborhood residents and organizations.