the heritage sycamore and crystal springs


Earlier this month a protest was held in Crystal Springs to protect a Heritage Sycamore (and other native tree species including Black Walnuts and Live Oaks) slated for demolition by LA Rec & Parks in order to build two little league-style baseball fields. This move by the city would have effectively destroyed a beautiful, bucolic picnic/passive recreation area currently used by many Angelenos during the course of the year.

For many living in LA sans backyards, the Crystal Springs area in Griffith Park provides a beautiful vista in which to celebrate picnics, graduations… whatever the occasion… this area provides the perfect venue for parties and many forms of passive recreation.

So, why destroy it?

Good question, complicated answer.

According to recent studies analyzing available parkland in the City of Los Angeles… “low-income and concentrated poverty areas as well as neighborhoods dominated by Latinos, African Americans, and Asian-Pacific Islanders, have dramatically lower levels of access to park resources than white dominated areas of the city.”

And although Proposition K funds (the 1996 bond measure) are supposed to increase/enhance parks and recreation spaces in LA, the opposite is occurring in poorer communities. Meaning those communities are losing out on funding and access to green spaces. According to the study… “neighborhoods with the largest shares of young people received half as much Prop. K funding on a per youth basis than areas with the least concentration of youth.”

At the same time, “districts with the highest rates of park accessibility received as much or more bond funds than many areas with higher poverty, higher concentrations of young people, and below average park accessibility.”

Which seems to indicate that those with higher finances will have greater access to the representatives down at City Hall and in turn, will see a greater positive impact from the distribution of parkland in Los Angeles.

But part of the problem with Los Angeles… it’s a city that has never set aside adequate green space for its increasing population, and now it depends solely on existing green space to fill its needs, which given the magnitude of LA, no longer work.

This is like taking a pie and cutting it up… even though there are more coming to the table, the pie is shrinking, and as a result, the remaining pieces are getting smaller and smaller.

I believe Griffith J. Griffith in his bequest to the City said it best about Griffith Park… “It must be made a place of recreation and rest for the masses, a resort for the rank and file, for the plain people… I consider it my obligation to make Los Angeles a happier, cleaner, and finer city. I wish to pay my debt of duty in this way to the community in which I have prospered.”

Even though fairness has never been part of the equation down at City Hall, we must demand better from our elected officials and leave existing parkland alone. 

Currently, there is a lawsuit pending that would halt construction of the baseball fields and also demand that other options be placed back on the table so as not to destroy existing recreational facilities utilized by other groups.

Parks and Park Funding in Los Angeles: An Equity Mapping Analysis
by Jennifer Wolch, John P. Wilson, and Jed Fehrenbach

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