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L.A. plans to turn foreclosed homes into pocket parks



Los Angeles officials are pushing to create
Los Angeles officials are pushing to create "parklets" in urban spaces. This concept is seen magnified in the High Line park in New York City. The High Line was formerly an elevated railway 30 feet above the city's West Side and has been turned into a public park and garden.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Los Angeles is low on public parks for residents, according to a recent report. Fewer than one-third of Los Angeles children live within walking distance of a park or playground. 

But a new city plan to make L.A. "more livable" will add a bit more green space into the mix.

Fifty pocket parks will be built around the city over the next two years, 10 of them on the lots of foreclosed homes. The rest of the small parks will be built on city-owned land or on vacant lots the city is looking to buy. 

Right now, Los Angeles owns 15,717 acres of parkland, mostly from large parks, which satisfies the city's goal of having 10 acres of park land per every 1,000 residents. But, the city lacks the kind of urban green space residents can access in neighborhoods.

The plan could also be a way to raise property taxes on the surrounding residences if the city does it right, Richard Green, president of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, told the Daily News

In 2009, the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program was passed, which encouraged cities to buy and convert foreclosed homes into low-income properties or rentals. The city had already purchased a few homes before it was discovered that repairing and making them livable was not cost effective.

The Los Angeles Housing Department donated 17 sites, mostly in South L.A., to the parks department, the Daily News reported. Nine of the foreclosed properties were confirmed as parks, with the last site donated by a bank.

The pocket parks will cost between $200,000 and $700,000, excluding site acquisitions. Funding will come from nonprofits, the Proposition 84 state water bond, and developers.