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The City Project Equal Justice, Democracy, and Livability for All

Healthy Green Land Use, Equitable Development, and Civic Engagement through Planning by and for the Community

Healthy Green Land Use, Equitable Development, and Civic Engagement through Planning by and for the Community

We promote active living and healthy eating in communities that are park poor, income poor, or of color. We engage, educate, and empower diverse allies to plan, create, and preserve multi-benefit healthy green land use and infrastructure projects for active living, climate justice, and clean air, water, land, and habitat protection. This includes joint use of parks, pools, and schools; complete green streets with transit, biking, walking, and safe routes to school; and new partners for smart growth.

We provide multidisciplinary consulting, research, and analyses to inform healthy, sustainable planning by and for the community for generations to come. Our major publication, which reflects community based participatory research, has been influential in planning reports and studies by the federal government and others: Healthy Parks, Schools and Communities: Mapping Green Access and Equity for Southern California (The City Project Policy Report 2011), available at http://www.mapjustice.org. The National Park Service cites our work in recognizing that there is not enough green space for all, there are disparities in park access and health based on race and ethnicity, and park agencies need to address these concerns.

Healthy green land use projects underway with diverse allies and agencies include:

We implement lessons learned from our successful projects, which include creating or preserving over 1,000 acres of urban green space in:

We work to ensure everyone has equal access to active living where they live, learn, work, play, and pray. Best practices include:

We ensure parks reflect the culture, history, and diversity of the community through public monuments and art. Best practices include:

We bring nontraditional partners to the table. We help build diverse support for statewide park and water bond measures, with over $10 billion in state park and water bonds passed over the past decade. Voters of color and low-income voters can make the difference in passing properly framed resource measures, and must receive their fair share of the benefits.

We ensure compliance with clean water and environmental justice laws. Through a $2 billion agreement under the Clean Water Act between grassroots groups, US EPA, and the City of Los Angeles, we are improving the sewer system city wide, eliminating offensive sewer odors that plagued African-American Los Angeles for decades, and investing in multi-benefit park and water infrastructure projects.


Comprehensive Report on Green Access and Equity for Southern California

The City Project's policy report Healthy Parks, Schools and Communities: Green Access and Equity for Southern California maps and analyzes green access and equity in the nine county Southern California region. The report concludes with recommendations for equitable investments in green space throughout California and the nation.

Throughout Southern California a similar pattern exists: Children of color living in poverty with no access to a car suffer first and worst in terms of access to green space and opportunities for physical activity. Health and quality of life disparities follow the same pattern as green access disparities.

While there is an abundance of green space, not all residents enjoy equal access to these resources. Each county has its own set of challenges, as well as unique opportunities to improve green access. But disparities in green access and health based on race, ethnicity, and class are present throughout the region and each county.

Our goal with is to engage, educate and empower decision makers and the community concerning access to parks and recreation, quality education including physical education, access to healthy eating, transportation to green space, and local green jobs in traditionally underserved communities. Knowledge is power. We believe that this report is the most comprehensive analysis of green access and equal justice ever published for Southern California.

The report helps take green access and equal justice from the local to the regional, state and national level; to discern patterns and practices; to define standards to measure progress and equity and hold public officials accountable; and ultimately to make real improvements in people's lives, give people a sense of their own power, and alter the relations of power. The report translates research, policy and law into recommendations for systemic social change so that “park poor” and “income poor” communities receive their fair share of resources.

Healthy Parks, Schools and Communities: Green Access and Equity for Southern California is available for download along with maps and charts at www.cityprojectca.org/mapjustice.

Summary reports for individual counties -- Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Orange and San Diego, are also available in English and Spanish at www.cityprojectca.org/mapjustice.

Healthy Parks, Schools and Communities Los Angeles City Council

The City Project's Executive Director and Counsel Robert García presented the Policy Report Healthy Parks, Schools, and Communities: Mapping Green Access and Equity for the Los Angeles Region to the full Los Angeles City Council on March 18, 2008. Council members respond in a conversation about a fair system of park finance and fees; regional grass roots support for parks and recreation; affordable housing; joint use of parks and schools; park, school, and health disparities based on race, ethnicity, and poverty; and improving the quality of life in every community. View YouTube videos of the City Council hearing.

Download the letter to the City Council summarizing our recommendations.

See maps analyzing access to parks, schools, and pools by City Council district on flickr.

Policy Report Healthy Parks, Schools and Communities

The Policy Report Healthy Parks, Schools, and Communities: Mapping Green Access and Equity for the Los Angeles Region is a guide for creating healthy, livable communities for all. The Report provides a positive vision to:

  • Revitalize the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers
  • Create healthy parks and schools in every community
  • Improve health and reduce diabetes
  • Invest billions of dollars in infrastructure bonds
  • Promote economic vitality, local jobs, and affordable housing
  • Engage, educate, and empower communities.

Many parts of Los Angeles are park poor, and there are unfair park, school, and health disparities. Children of color disproportionately live in communities of concentrated poverty without places to play in parks and schools, with neither cars or transit to reach places for physical activity. These children disproportionately suffer from obesity and diabetes. Los Angeles has the chance to create healthy, livable communities for all.

The Policy Report provides GIS mapping, demographic and historical analyses, and policy and legal justifications for healthy parks, schools, and communities. The Report is a multimedia publication that is available in text only with no maps in a PDF file online, and with maps in hard copy and on compact disc below.

See a complete set of maps analyzing green access and equity for the Los Angeles region on flickr.

The Policy Report is available in hard copy in an abridged edition with the core maps and in unabridged edition with a complete set of maps, and on compact disc with a complete set of maps, for purchase online.

Please contact The City Project at hello@cityprojectca.org with any questions.

The following is a summary of some of the main concerns.

The City Project supports a collective vision for a web of parks, school fields, rivers, beaches, mountains, forests, and other natural public places to promote healthy, livable communities for all. We present ten principles for equal justice in planning healthy parks, schools, and communities.

The vision is inspired in part by the 1930 Olmsted plan for parks, playgrounds and beaches for the Los Angeles region. The Olmsted vision shows what should have been and what could be.

Olmsted Vision
The Olmsted Vision

(Click on maps to enlarge. High quality maps are also available with the Report.)

In contrast to that vision is the reality of unfair park, school, and health disparities today. Children of color living in poverty with no access to a car have the worst access to parks, and to schools with five acres or more of playing fields. The shared use of parks and schools is the best use of land and tax dollars. But school fields tend to be located in disproportionately white and wealthy areas.

Park Access and Schools for Children of Color Living in Poverty with No Access to a Car
Park Access and Schools for Children of Color Living in Poverty with No Access to a Car

Obesity levels are intolerably high for children in every neighborhood--from 23 to 40%. Children of color suffer first and worst. Places and policies for physical activity can improve health and reduce obesity for all.

Park Access, Schools and Child Obesity by State Assembly District
Park Access, Schools and Child Obesity by State Assembly District

The revitalization of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers should provide multiuse projects for parks, schools, clean water, and flood control, create jobs and affordable housing, and avoid gentrification.

LA River
L.A. River

The Heritage Parkscape will link the Los Angeles State Historic Park at the Cornfield, the Rio de Los Angeles State Park at Taylor Yard, El Pueblo de Los Angeles, the Los Angeles River, and over 100 other recreational, cultural, historical, and environmental sites. This is a best practice example for river revitalization.

Heritage Parkscape on Google Map

Learn more about the Heritage Parkscape.