(Editor’s note: After local residents attended and spoke at the LA County Parks Needs Assessment Update meeting on Zoom last night, several of them wrote the following letter and shared it with Circling the News.)
Thank you for hosting the LA County Parks Needs Assessment Update last night for the Westside Region. It was fun and rewarding to provide input to your process of improving Regional Park amenities.
I appreciated the opportunity to also speak about Park Project Implementation, which has been frustratingly and bewilderingly slow. As I mentioned, immediately after the 2016 Park Needs Assessment when a Dog Park was voted as the #1 need for the Palisades/Brentwood area, we formed a Dog Park Working Group and the City of LA RAP donated land, designed a dog park, and developed a ballpark cost estimate of $750,000.
Pursuant to Measure A Project requirements, we then held a Community Input meeting and received 100% approval from the 125 residents who attended, a record for a Park initiative in Pacific Palisades. The final step in the Dog Park Planning process is approval from the Coastal Commission. The Coastal Commission requires that projects seeking Coastal Commission review have full funding.
The Measure A allocation for Pacific Palisades/Brentwood which has accumulated since 2016 contains the full funding for the Palisades Dog Park that the Coastal Commission requires. However, neither the Palisades Dog Park nor any other project in the Palisades Brentwood area has been given access to this money since the inception of Measure A in 2016.
Our understanding is that Bill Jones at the City of LA Recreation & Parks is responsible for writing the grants to access Measure A funding for area projects. We have been in contact with Bill repeatedly over the past 4 years, and he and Cathie Santo Domingo are well aware of and supportive of the Palisades Dog Park. However, despite persistent phone calls and emails from us and the former local Council District Deputy Durrah Wagner, we cannot get Bill Jones to write the Measure A Grant Application for the Palisades Dog Park.
The other issue is that the Palisades shares the Measure A Area Allocation with Brentwood. In order to eliminate any roadblocks from sharing the Measure A Area Allocation, we have spoken with the President of the Brentwood Community Council, Michelle Bisnoff, about their Park needs. Michelle told us that they also have a “shovel-ready” park project that costs $400K.
In mid-September the next yearly allocation of Measure A funds will be deposited for the Palisades/Brentwood area, increasing the total amount of money available to over $1,000,000.
As both Pacific Palisades and Brentwood have shovel-ready projects, there is no excuse for this money to keep accumulating and not be used. The simple solution is to designate $400,000 to Brentwood for their project; and designate the remaining $600,000 to Pacific Palisades for the Dog Park so that we can begin the lengthy Coastal Commission process. By the time we are on the Coastal Commission docket, another $275,000 will be deposited (in September 2022) and we will have the full funding that they require.
Or even faster, $150,000 in Quimby funds and $250,000 in Measure A funds can be combined to fund the Brentwood project, and the full $750,000 needed for the Palisades Dog Park can be allocated immediately.
Something needs to be done about the slow implementation of Measure A Grant projects. The most wonderful planning is worthless without follow through or implementation. The taxpayers of LA County deserve better than to have their hard-earned money sitting in a bank account and not put to use for their enjoyment. In this case, you have citizens who are willing to do the work of managing the Measure A implementation, yet are repeatedly put off, ignored and not served. Perhaps a consulting firm could be hired to do the Grant Writing and facilitate the Implementation of Measure A Park Projects, the way consultants have helped with the Planning Process?
Please let me know if we can provide any further information. We look forward to your help and hearing from you.
Lynn Miller Hylen
Pacific Palisades Dog Park Working Group
(Editor’s note: Recreation and Parks Public Information Officer Rose Watkins was contacted on August 19 regarding the letter. CTN asked why Jones had not penned the request for Measure A funds. CTN asked if Councilman Bonin’s office had to make a special request, too. When we receive a response, we’ll update the story.)