City Council unanimously approves proposal spearheaded by Huizar to update park development fees program for first time in 31 years – freeing up millions of dollars and relaxing restrictions to encourage more park development in park-poor L.A
The Los Angeles City Council voted 14-0 to approve a new ordinance spearheaded by Councilmember Huizar updating the City’s archaic development fees program for the first time in more than three decades in order to increase funding for parks and open space in park-poor Los Angeles and address inequities in distribution of those funds, particularly in low-income communities.
Prior to the vote, Huizar was joined by Parks For All advocates, Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, as well Recreation and Parks (RAP) GM Michael Shull and Commission President Sylvia Patsaouras, calling on the Council to approve the new ordinance, which Huizar estimates could add as much as $30 million annually to the City’s new parks and park improvement program. Currently, about $22 million a year is generated through the old program.
“It's been 31 years since we've updated our parks development fees in park-poor Los Angeles,” said Councilmember Huizar. “Reform is needed to increase funding for parks Citywide, adjust standards so that more green space gets built, and create incentives for developers to build parks on-site. As the 2nd largest City in the U.S., Los Angeles should be leading the nation in prioritizing greenspace so that all children and families have access to good, safe, quality parks.”
Councilmember Huizar restarted the discussion on Quimby reform to update the City’s development fees program and increase park space Citywide through a motion he introduced and as the Chair of the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee where he helped shape the City’s recommendations. Councilmember O’Farrell Chairs the City’s Arts, Parks & River Committee and is an ardent supporter of the proposal, which would be the first update for the program in more than three decades.
“I want to thank my council colleague José Huizar, the City Planning Department, and our Recreation and Parks Department for their work on this historic update to fund more park projects, as well as improve the public spaces already enjoyed by Angelenos,” said Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell. “This update secures more funds from local development, provides greater flexibility, and supports the increase of affordable housing stock in our great city. This critical update not only improves the parks of today, but also helps us build the parks of tomorrow!”
The proposed ordinance will significantly enhance Recreation and Parks’ ability to build facilities, such as aquatic centers, synthetic soccer fields, recreational facilities, world-class playground structures, and to acquire parkland to be dedicated in perpetuity for the public’s use.
“The new Quimby ordinance will enhance the Department’s ability to fund and acquire much-needed land and facilities to greater serve park visitors and communities throughout the City’s Council Districts,” said Michael A. Shull, General Manager, Department of Recreation and Parks. “Recreation and Parks supports the newly enhanced Quimby ordinance and the much-needed updates to its fee schedule, expanded radius uses and the development of a system that is more transparent and serves the needs of park users Citywide.”
The Parks For All coalition, made up of 68 community organizations and issues experts, have teamed up with Huizar to advocate for the much-needed changes.
“Today is historic for all Angelenos, especially for the 2.5 million residents who are park-poor and suffer the serious health, social, and environmental consequences,” said Alina Bokde, Executive Director, Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust. “No matter where you live, the color of your skin, or how much money you make, all Angelenos deserve to have safe, quality public parks in their neighborhoods. Even with Quimby reform, there is still much work to do to ensure that LA’s park system no longer languishes toward the bottom of national rankings and instead becomes a world-class park system for all.”
Fees levied on residential developments, collectively known as “Quimby fees,” were established in 1971 as a way to mitigate negative impacts on communities and add park space for residents as new development is built. It was last updated in 1985. The proposed reforms promise more funding for parks, updated credits for developers who build recreational facilities on-site, and specific exemptions for affordable housing development. It also adds “by-right” apartment development to the already established condominium development funding, which is consistent with cities throughout the region. Through the years, lack of apartment development Quimby fees has meant hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for City parks were lost.
The City Council’s action follows decades of demand for Quimby reform, three years of study and public debate, and is an important first step to addressing the chronic underfunding of the City’s park system. Los Angeles is in desperate need of more parks and green space, particularly in neighborhoods like South Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, Koreatown, and many parts of the San Fernando Valley. According to the nationally-recognized ParkScore rankings, the Los Angeles city park system currently ranks 65th among the 100 largest U.S. cities, placing it far behind nearby communities, including Long Beach, San Diego, and Irvine. The proposed reforms are critical to investing in parks and ensuring park access for all.
To see LA Neighborhood Land Trust 2014 Study, click here.