Bill expected to increase park space

BELLFLOWER - A bill that will provide greater access to recreational parks and open space in urban neighborhoods has been signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger.Assembly Bill 521, written by Assemblyman Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate) will streamline the existing permit process and provide recreational opportunities for families in densely populated communities. "With this bill, the California Public Utilities Commission can take into consideration the community benefits of parks and open space when determining a fair lease rate for urban city parks," De La Torre said. Urban communities, including the southeast cities in Los Angeles County, lack the public health, environmental, economic and social benefits that come with having ready access to parks and open space, De La Torre said. In many Southeast cities, only one out of four residents live within 440 yards of a neighborhood playground or park facility, De La Torre added. There are even fewer parks and open spaces in low-income neighborhoods, where 1,000 people share a third of an acre. In 2002, Bellflower received a grant to create Riverview Park as a secondary use of a utility right-of-way. Bellflower currently owns six acres and needed to lease an additional 12 acres from the utility to create a local park. The park will run along the San Gabriel River and will increase Bellflower's park space by about 24 percent. "Millions of Californians across the state do not have access to park space in their community, particularly in low-income areas," said Rico Mastrodonato, senior government relations manager with the Trust for Public Land. ********** Published: October 16, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 26