About 40 women gathered around a table stretched out in the parking lot of Richardson Family Park for a Thanksgiving celebration. These women, collectively called First 5 LA, have been coming to the park every Thursday for the last four years.
Parks and green areas like these are slated to be funded by Measure A, a proposition that passed by a wide margin last week. Many parks in LA are in dire need for improvement. The measure was supported by 74 percent of voters but residents of LA will not be able to reap the benefits for another two years or so.
"[The park] is a place for people to come together," said Denise Serrette, community promoter for First 5 LA. "It's where we can make social connections and talk about issues important to the community."
The park is a small plot of land at the corner of Budlong and 27th, surrounded by residential houses. It has a small dilapidated playground, two picnic tables and no green fields around. There are events here every week ranging from book sales to toy drives. The residents even built a 12-by-12 community garden in the back which they tend to every week.
"The funds will be distributed in July 2018," said Terry Kanakri, public information officer for County of LA Department of Parks & Recreation. "The first fund will be allocated throughout the county with additional funds to areas identified as 'High' or 'Very High Need'," he said.
"High Need" may be an understatement when it comes to green spaces in Los Angeles. A study done by The Trust for Public Land ranked Los Angeles 65 out of 100 largest cities in the United States when it comes to parkland as a percentage of city area. The "High Need" areas are concentrated in South LA, according to the LA Parks Needs Assessment done by the LA County Department of Recreation and Parks.
The Los Angeles Supervisors who endorsed this measure have big plans for their districts, mainly focused on large parks. In a statement to USC Annenberg Media, supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas of Second Supervisorial district said, "I envision these funds to be allocated to complete transformation of the 115-acre Magic Johnson Park in Willowbrook, new aquatic facilities at Victoria and Athens Parks."
Ridley-Thomas' district is composed largely of south and central LA, which houses many large parks as the ones mentioned above, along with small parks like Richardson Family Park.
Supervisor Hilda Solis also announced plans for 11 projects in her district which will use the funding available through Measure A. Her plans include area pools in Lincoln Heights and La Puente along with general improvements in Santa Fe, Salazar and Lambert Park.
As for the women who use the Richardson Family Park, they will continue to make improvements they want to see. "We just want to make the park look better," said Sharon Gonzalez, as she looked at the community garden. "The garden brings something vibrant to the park."