Despite a recent study that found the Los Angeles County to be “park poor,” a joint effort among many organizations has finally paid off to complete the 67-mile Backbone Trail through the Santa Monica Mountains.

Los Angeles County Falls Short on Green Space

According to a recent parks-needs assessment conducted at the request of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles County is falling far short on green space. In fact, the study found that 51 percent of county residents do not live within a 10-minute walk from a park. Furthermore, many of the existing parks are in either poor or fair conditions, with nearly 80 percent having infrastructure needs that are either fair or poor.

In compiling the report, researchers looked at more than 3,000 parks within the county and across 86 cities. Those areas that were the most “park poor” included:

  • Baldwin Park
  • North Long Beach
  • South LA
  • Sun Valley
  • Van Nuys

To address this issue, a parcel tax that would amount to 3 cents per square foot for built-out property such as single-family houses and commercial structures, is being considered. This would equate to $45 per year for a 1,500-square-foot building. Altogether, the tax would generate $198 million per year to go toward parks in the county. With the parks-needs assessment finding that there are $21.5 billion worth of priority projects within existing parks, $198 million per year is not that much. A similar proposal, Proposition P, was made in 2014. This attempt failed with opponents saying they wanted more assurance that high-need areas would receive the necessary funding. The latest proposal would include a list of priority projects, with 1,800 such projects having been singled out by the needs assessment.

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67-Mile Trail Connecting Pacific Palisades to Malibu Reaches Completion

Despite the troubles that many of the area’s parks are facing, a 50-year project to connect Pacific Palisades to Malibu has finally been completed. Known as Backbone Trail, the path passes through the Santa Monica Mountains extends from Will Rogers State Park to Point Mugu in Malibu for a total of 67 miles. This makes the trail one of the longest continuous trails in Southern California.

Completing the trail has not been an easy task, particularly since it cuts through some of the most prime real estate in the country. In fact, the National Park Service, California Department of Parks and Recreation, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Mountains and Recreation Conservation Authority began purchasing parcels of land for the project in the 1960s. Since then, a total of 180 tracts of land have been purchased, including areas around the trail in order to prevent future developments from disrupting the natural beauty.

The project has also been completed with the help of generous donations. For example, the National Park Service recently attempted to purchase 40 acres from Arnold Schwarzenegger and fitness guru Betty Welder, but both donated the land instead. James Cameron also sold a massive 703-acre tract to the cause in 2014 for a paltry $12 million. All of the parcels have since been pieced together to create an uninterrupted trail that hikers can legally use to travel through the area. Park services are also reportedly working on getting the trail designed as a National Recreation Trail in order to give it more prestige as well as funding for maintenance and the purchase of more land.

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(all data current as of 5/29/2017)

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