Residents discussing final revisions to their proposed design

Expanding Park Access in California

One of the project sites in South Los Angeles

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

City staff surveying students at a local school

Residents discussing final revisions to their proposed design

Expanding Park Access in California

Expanding Park Access in California

KDI partnered with Public Health Advocates (PHA) to assist eleven municipalities across California to access grant funding and bring new parks to low-income neighborhoods with limited park access. We led the community engagement process and scaled up our participatory model of park design to engage residents statewide to design their proposed park and build competitive grant applications for State funding.

Interested in using our participatory park design process in your project? Download our Prop 68 Park Design Toolkit HERE.

Context

A vacant parcel in Unincorporated 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 provided pro bono technical assistance to help 12 low-income communities across the state submit competitive grant applications for park development and renovation.

Working closely with PHA and the Cities of McFarland, Fowler, Lindsay, Livingston, Lakeport, Davis, Hughson, Bell Gardens, Desert Hot Springs, Coachella, and Long Beach, as well as two unincorporated communities in Los Angeles County, we developed a set of activities to gather community priorities and design ideas through 5 meetings at each of the 12 sites across California. Participants began with open-ended questions about challenges and priorities in their neighborhoods, and were then guided through several workshops to collectively decide on park features and the overall design of the site. Resident input then served as the foundation for each city’s grant application and proposed park design.

Solution

Example of park concept design created through community workshops

Working with our partner cities, KDI and PHAdvocates submitted 12 applications for California State Park’s 2019 Statewide Park Program, requesting a total of over $65 million in grants.

We not only assisted our city partners in implementing nearly 60 engagement activities across all sites, but also helped them compile all grant application materials and synthesize community input into a compelling narrative and final concept design. KDI also produced a Park Equity Toolkit (link) to support other cities that want to facilitate similar park design processes.

Impact

Residents presenting concept designs at a workshop

Through our direct technical assistance, we engaged hundreds of residents in the park planning process, and shared our participatory process and tools 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 in the future and increase park access in the neighborhoods that need it most. 

Grant applications are currently under review and awardees will be made public December 2019. For more information and updates on California State Park’s Prop 68 Funding programs, visit the website HERE.