Environment & Science

Increased parks fees for developers approved unanimously by LA City Council

File: Upper Hollywood Reservoir
File: Upper Hollywood Reservoir
Jed Kim

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to increase parks fees for the first time in 31 years. That means developers will have to pay more fees that are then used to develop parks.

The increased fees will generate millions of dollars and help to encourage the development of parks and open spaces in parts of L.A. without parks, according to a release from Councilman Jose Huizar's office.

Huizar estimates the increased fees could add $30 million per year to the city's parks and park improvement program, according to the release. The previous version of the program generation about $22 million a year.

"Today is historic for all Angelenos, especially for the 2.5 million residents who are park-poor and suffer the serious health, social, and environmental consequences," L.A. Neighborhood Land Trust Executive Director Alina Bokde said in a statement. "No matter where you live, the color of your skin, or how much money you make, all Angelenos deserve to have safe, quality public parks in their neighborhoods."

Bokde added that there is still work to do so that L.A.'s park system "no longer languishes toward the bottom of national rankings." L.A. is tied for 65th in the ParkScore rankings of the 100 largest U.S. cities, ranking behind Long Beach, San Diego and Irvine. The ParkScore rankings were cited in a release from Huizar's office.

The fees used to pay for parks, known as Quimby fees, were put in place in 1971. They're paid for by residential developments and are meant to mitigate negative impacts and to add park space for residents in urban neighborhoods.

The reforms posed in the ordinance passed Wednesday include more parks funding, apartment development fees, updated credits for developers who build recreational facilities on-site and exemptions for affordable housing development.

"Reform is needed to increase funding for parks Citywide, adjust standards so that more green space gets built, and create incentives for developers to build parks on-site. As the 2nd largest City in the U.S., Los Angeles should be leading the nation in prioritizing greenspace so that all children and families have access to good, safe, quality parks," Huizar said in a statement.

The new ordinance also will help the Recreation and Parks Department build facilities like aquatic centers, synthetic soccer fields, recreational facilities, playground structures and to acquire parkland, according to the release.

Councilman Mitch O'Farrell joined with Huizar and others to call on the Council to approve the ordinance, according to the release.

"This update secures more funds from local development, provides greater flexibility, and supports the increase of affordable housing stock in our great city. This critical update not only improves the parks of today, but also helps us build the parks of tomorrow," O'Farrell said in a statement.