County Examples

Countywide Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment

Los Angeles County, Calif.

The County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has been actively working to improve park equity within the communities it serves. In 2012, the County initiated the Master Plan for Sustainable Parks and Recreation: Phase 1, which analyzes and addresses parks and recreation needs in six of the most “park poor” communities in Los Angeles County. Building off the work done in these communities, DPR initiated the Countywide Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment in 2015, which was the first undertaking of its kind attempted nationwide. The Needs Assessment aimed to analyze park needs across the County, and develop a framework for the future distribution of parks and recreation funds. Together, these planning efforts exemplify an innovative approach to enhancing the environment and public health in underserved areas by incorporating a robust spatial analysis of park needs; thoughtful analysis of land and resource availability; dynamic community outreach; and creative approaches to site design, recreational programming and neighborhood greening. Many communities in Los Angeles County have relatively low median household incomes, a high number of minorities, a relatively high number of children, and lower levels of car ownership. They also typically have lower levels of urban tree canopy than recommended, and face high levels of crime. Additionally, numerous communities fall below the County goal of 4 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents, and large percentages of the population are not within a 10-minute walk to a park. As part of the Parks Needs Assessment, detailed analyses were conducted to help park planners and decision-makers to better understand the park needs of communities. Specifically, a thorough inventory of all parks was completed to document the type, location, and condition of the facilities.

Ms. Kaye Michelson 
Special Assistant

About 100 Brilliant Ideas at Work

Counties play an essential role in keeping America’s communities healthy, vibrant and safe. With public and private sector partners, we pursue innovative approaches to advance public health and well-being, protect public safety and foster economic strength and resiliency. Counties anticipate and adapt to challenges by thinking outside the box and demonstrating local leadership that makes a difference in people’s lives.

Under the leadership of NACo Immediate Past President Bryan Desloge, NACo embarked on an initiative to identify and share 100 examples of visionary county leadership that results in improving residents’ quality of life. Through this initiative, NACo worked with county leaders and partners to share best practices that bolster our nation’s ability to thrive county by county.

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