A potential park site in LA County

Expanding Park Access in California

Cover of the toolkit KDI and PHAdvocates are developing for cities

Residents of Bell Gardens, CA identify challenges and assets in their community

A potential park site in LA County

Expanding Park Access in California

Expanding Park Access in California

KDI and its partner Public Health Advocates (PHAdvocates) are working with eleven municipalities throughout California to develop new parks in low-income neighborhoods with little or no existing access to parks. KDI is leading the community engagement process, scaling up our participatory model of park design to engage residents statewide to create new open spaces in their neighborhoods.

See our Prop 68 Park Equity toolkit here.

Context

A vacant parcel in South LA, where there is limited access to parks

In 2018, Californians voted to pass Prop 68 and release $1 billion in funding for parks and green spaces - a cause for celebration given their vital importance for healthy, happy communities.

The following year, the California Department of Parks & Recreation released a grant application for municipalities to create or renovate parks in low-income, park-poor communities using this funding. However, there are many municipalities statewide with high-need neighborhoods that might not have the capacity or resources to complete a competitive application.

Process

Community members at a park design workshop

KDI and PHAdvocates are providing pro bono assistance to help low-income cities across the state submit competitive funding applications for park development and renovation.

KDI is leading residents from these cities through a participatory design process to create site plans for park projects as part of the application. Participants begin with open-ended questions about challenges and priorities in their neighborhoods, and then collectively decide on park features, experiences, and locations to produce their site plans. KDI has also produced a Park Equity Toolkit (link) to support other cities that want to facilitate similar park design processes.

Solution

Sample pages from the Park Equity Toolkit that is being disseminated statewide

KDI and PHAdvocates staff are currently working with eleven municipalities on their park engagement and design process, building up to submitting competitive grant applications for Prop 68 funds.

In Central and Northern California, we’ve partnered with McFarland, Fowler, Lindsay, Livingston, Lakeport, and Hughson. In Southern California, our partners are Bell Gardens, Desert Hot Springs, Coachella, Long Beach, and Los Angeles County, where we are working on two sites, one in Florence-Firestone and one in West Athens.

Impact

Outcomes from a design workshop

Through our direct technical assistance and the Toolkit, we are engaging hundreds of residents in the park planning process, and making participatory tools and methodologies available to city officials statewide.

Not only are cities learning to engage communities on park projects in new, more inclusive ways, but they are also building their capacity to apply for funds that will increase access to parks in the neighborhoods that need it most.