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Measure SP is the Wrong Way to Build More Parks--Former Measure L Did It Right!

THE DOCTOR IS IN - I am a huge fan of parks, pools, waterways, museums, etc.

Having grown up in Long Beach and having worked in high school and college with the Department of Parks and Recreation in Lakewood, I know that having parks and public recreational facilities is one of the most important things a society can do that purports to be civilized.  However, Measure SP--in theory a good idea to fund more parks and recreational facilities--will probably hurt instead of helping us make the City of L.A. more livable. 

For those of us who remember Measure L, which ensured and demanded that a portion of the City budget go to libraries--we have a requirement for the City to do its job with the money we pay them every year.  Measure L was promoted by folks like former LAPD Police Chief (and former City Councilmember) Bernard Parks and opposed by self-absorbed police unions who wanted that money for their own budgets and pensions. 

I am actually VERY pro-police, but Parks (who was a LAPD leader and insider, mind you) knew what was going on, and he made damned sure that public libraries--also fundamental for a civilized society--did not get their money yanked by one City department at the expense of the other.  

We now have guaranteed money coming out of the City each year for our libraries, because it's a current percentage of every budget that is now required by the City to perform. 

We can and should do the same for parks and recreation. 

It's a simple matter of numbers--if we have anywhere from 5-10% absolutely guaranteed for parks and recreation, then we'll get more ensured funds for this vital service we all deserve as taxpaying citizens in the City of the Angels: 

1) Nailing homeowners won't ensure a guaranteed funding, and will only pit one group of Angelenos against the other--$227 million in annual revenue sounds nice, but will it fly with homeowners already being nailed by high property taxes? 

2) Does any experienced, rational adult honestly believe this money will be spent well, and for the benefit of all Angelenos? 

3) Why isn't an annual City budget of $12 billion accommodating parks and recreation NOW? 

4) What exactly is this money going to be spent on, and will it really be distributed evenly for all Angelenos to benefit? 

5) Most importantly--and remember the Measure L experience--will more money to parks and recreation lead to a similar/equivalent amount of funds being yanked from what we spend on parks and recreation, NOW, leading to NO difference in spending on parks/recreation. 

Having a defined list of projects might be beneficial for all of us to know what's in store for more parks/recreation spending, but the bottom line is: 

Make parks/recreation a defined percentage of each budget, as we now do with libraries, before any new spending is required, to ensure we have enough quality funding for operations and new facilities to serve all Angelenos!!! 

Let's have MORE parks and recreational facilities in the City of the Angels.  

But let former Measure L be step one as the right way to do it. Then and only then, and with a defined list of projects, should we talk about new parks/recreation spending. 

Let's ensure that we have the right baseline for parks/recreation spending before we talk about anything else for this absolutely vital priority for City residents. 

 

(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He was termed out of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two stints as a Board member for 9, years and is also a Board member of the Westside Village Homeowners Association. He previously co-chaired the MVCC Outreach, Planning, and Transportation/Infrastructure Committees for 10 years. He was previously co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee, the grassroots Friends of the Green Line (which focused on a Green Line/LAX connection), and the nonprofit Transit Coalition His latest project is his fictional online book entitled The Unforgotten Tales of Middle-Earth and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)