Our Parks Are Our Lungs!
I will fight for more parkland in our neighborhoods, Green Space is being usurped by potential new developments. I chaired the Recreation and Parks Commission. I was on the commission for almost 14 years and was honored as California Parks and Recreation Commissioner of the year in 2013. In addition, I have been President of the CalParksBoard and remain a board member. I fought for the enlargement of Green Space in every corner of our city. The largest park expansion in our city's history occurred during my term on the Recreation & Parks Commission. But there is still more to do.
We are a dense, apartment-centric city with less park space per capita than almost any other city in California. With the new "shoebox" apartments being completed on our streets and boulevards in the midst of a pandemic, green space is even more important for our community's wellness. It should be every renter’s right to have a park or green play area within ¼ mile of his/her apartment, close enough for Moms with toddlers or Seniors to access easily. To balance the stresses of urban life, creating and protecting Green Space is an obligation of our local government.
There exist few spaces for large park expansion in our city. However we have long planned for an expansion of Memorial Park. The overpriced project that the planning staff has pushed forward is more than our sports community needs. A simpler plan that is less expensive will serve our youth well. We have a little over 2.5 acres of potential parkland downtown at the city-owned parcel on 4th and Arizona. That must become an active plaza with Green Space and water features that convert to an outdoor ice rink in winter. We have also completed plans for a expansion of Airport Park that will include enhanced sports fields.
What should our near future hold? Small pocket parks in the midst of our neighborhoods, a park that doubles as a community orchard for the good of all, expanded community gardens for our residents, more off leash dog parks, and a more extensive urban tree canopy with wide, safe sidewalks are among my wishes for our town.
In the distant future, I envision an indoor ice hockey and skating complex and additional park space in 2029 at what is now Santa Monica Airport.
Without parks or green space nearby, apartment dwellers are bound by four walls. There is scientific evidence that people who live near parks are healthier mentally and physically I support greater emphasis on genuine public open/green space that is safe, clean, and useable, Santa Monica is below par for green space. We must do better.