LA WATCHDOG--On September 13, Controller Ron Galperin released a first ever Report Card for our Department of Recreation and Parks. It was based on interviews by consultants with over 3,700 park using Angelenos and onsite reviews of 40 of our 95 community parks. (Photo above: Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin announces Rec & Parks Report Card.)
Overall, these 40 community parks received a grade of B (an 86) based on the equal weighting of 12 measurements. But this hides the fact that many Angelenos are concerned about their safety in the parks (46%) and the poorly maintained bathrooms (37%), especially in three of the five surveyed areas.
Of the 40 parks that were surveyed, 16 (40%) received a D on the restroom maintenance. But that percentage leaped to 57% (16 of the 28 parks) for the East San Fernando Valley, Metropolitan, and South LA / Harbor Areas. On the other hand, the West San Fernando and Westside Areas had no failing restrooms and had an overall of grade of a B on restrooms.
One the underlying reasons for the lack of safety and the foul restrooms is that the Department’s budget has been decimated by City Hall.
Under the City’s “full cost recovery” program that was instituted in 2010 by Mayor Villaraigosa and then City Council President Eric Garcetti, $410 million has been diverted from the operating budget of the Department of Recreation and Parks.
This year alone, Recreation & Parks is being hit up for $71 million, including $25 million for utilities (water and power), $2 million for refuse collection, and $44 million for “General Fund Reimbursement” to cover pension contributions, human resource benefits, and other related expenses. This represents 38% of the charter mandated appropriation of $186 million.
As a result, the Department’s headcount has been reduced by almost a third, resulting in less maintenance and even fewer programs and activities.
But the “full cost recovery” program does not apply to any City department other than the Library, whose appropriations, like those of Recreation and Parks, are mandated by the City Charter. However, in 2011, 63% of the voters approved Measure L which increased the Library’s charter mandated appropriation by 71%.