Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Park-ed outside

   Yes, it is good that Los Angeles will be getting more parks, or parklets, as well as more plazas and bike parking. And it’s great that this will be done relatively quickly, without much of the bureaucracy that can take months and cost a considerable amount, and that each project will have a year-long trial period.     Through a program called “People St,” operated through the city’s Department of Transportation, community groups can apply to convert a piece of city street into a parklet, a plaza or bike parking for a year without going through the lengthy and expensive process of getting approval from multiple city departments, a process that often involves hiring an architect and maybe a permit expediter for thousands of dollars. If a project is successful, the community can then work toward making it permanent.
   The applicants would provide furnishings and daily maintenance, and the transportation department has preapproved designs and will direct traffic analysis by city staff. Projects approved in the first round can be installed by November - “lightning speed for City Hall,” according to a Los Angeles Times editorial.
   The Times all but gushes over the plan, rightfully saying that it will “make L.A more friendly to walkers and bicyclists and...create a more vibrant street culture” and “injects a sense of experimentation and community leadership into the city’s decision-making process.” Concluding with the sentence “It’s too early to declare a new day at City Hall, but this could be a model for L.A, and a good one,” the editorial is titled “Let 100 parklets bloom.”
   I totally agree with all this, for sure - I’m all for green spaces and places and processes that promote community, not using cars, etc. - but I’m wondering if these parklets will count as the parks that convicted and registered sexual offenders cannot live near. I’m wondering if this will he used as another way to restrict where these people who have served their time in prison can live and to drive them out of the community (making them more estranged, probably homeless and likelier to commit crime again).
   Why didn’t the Times editorial bring this up, especially when the paper had an article a couple years ago about small parks popping up in areas around the city with the explicit purpose of not letting convicted sexual offenders live there? Did the Times, in its understandable enthusiasm, forget this?

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