Neighborhood children celebrated Earth Day by planting trees on April 19, 2008.
The new Vista Hermosa Nature Park adjoining the new Edward R. Roybal High School in Pico Union, one of the most park-starved communities in California, opened on July 19, 2008! This is a best practice example of the joint use of parks and schools.
Vista Hermosa Park is located in Assembly District 45 (DeLeon). There are 2.03 net acres of parks per thousand residents, compared to 282.79 in Assembly District 37 (Strickland). There are a total of 426,127 people living in District 45. 28.6% are children (121,879). More than one child out of every three (36.3% ) suffers from obesity.
The people are disproportionately Latino and poor compared to the City, County, and State. More than 90% of the neighborhood children are Latino, and 89% of families are enrolled in the free and reduced federal lunch programs in school.
Vista Hermosa Park is the first park built in the area in over 100 years. The Park was developed by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority in a joint-use partnership with LAUSD and the City of Los Angeles as a model for urban revitalization. Providing a “mountain watershed experience,” the 10.5-acre park restores some of the natural topography and native vegetation of the area and features trails, streams, meadows, oak savannahs, picnic areas, art elements, an environmentally-themed children’s adventure area, and a 120-student capacity outdoor amphitheater. Built with state-of-the-art “green” technologies, the new park will enhance environmental and natural history education opportunities for the adjacent high school, and provide a regulation soccer field for joint use by the school and the community. The park will also provide a gateway to Santa Monica Mountains parklands for youth and their families with the free monthly “Transit to Trails” program to take children and their families and friends on fun, educational, and healthy mountain, river, and beach trips.
The LAUSD school board voted to abandon the Belmont High School and sell the site in 2000. Keeping hope alive, the Citizens’ School Bond Oversight Committee, chaired by The City Project’s Robert Garcia, required LAUSD to study whether the site could be made safe for a school, how much it would cost, and how long it would take. In 2004, the Committee voted in favor of completing the school and creating Vista Hermosa Park.
Congratulations and thank you to everyone who is making this dream come true!
See images of the Vista Hermosa grand opening on flickr.