The L.A. City Recreation and Parks Board of Commissioners holds public meetings twice a month. The meeting is held at different parks in the city, and is also carried on Zoom, which allows residents the opportunity to participate.
The five commissioners, volunteers Sylvia Patsaouras, Lynn Alvarez, Tafarai Bayne, Nicole Chase and Joe Halper, are appointed. The meeting generally starts with an update from General Manager Jimmy Kim.
The meeting on March 16, included a report on self-cleaning bathrooms.
George Wolfberg Park at Potrero has a small restroom building that has two self-cleaning bathrooms.
The first restroom of this type was installed at a park in North Hollywood and there is a third in Riverside Drive. Two additional restrooms, one at Westwood and one at West Lakeside, are planned.
Maintenance Superintendent Javier Solis said, “They self-sanitize, they do not self-clean.”
Staff is still required to clean out the trash in bins and the trash that might be left on the floor.
There are various settings in self-cleaning restrooms. After 20 to 30 uses (currently the restrooms are set on 30), the door shuts completely, not allowing patrons in, and then the interior is completely sanitized.
Commissioners wanted further information about the costs of bathroom cleaning of sites that are not automated versus the automated version.
Additionally, at the end of the agenda, commissioners can request further information or action from Rec and Parks staff.
Commissioner Halper made two requests. The first was to have parks in Pacific Palisades (Temescal, proposed Temescal Trail, George Wolfberg lateral Via Las Olas Bluffs trail, and the Recreation Center) come under one umbrella and be managed as a regional park.
“How do we go about looking at this as a regional park?” he asked RAP management. “We need staff over there.”
He noted that the Palisades Park Advisory Board had made a similar request of RAP.
Halper also made a plea to look at the playground in Pacific Palisades and the restrooms. Neither are ADA compliant, the restrooms have not been updated since the 1950s, the playground is close to 25 years old.
The second request Halper made was to ensure those who do not live near parks have access to that environment.
“We’re not serving one third of the city,” he said.
He has been an advocate to bring parks to areas of the city where there are no trees or greenery.
He has worked with RAP and LAUSD to try and turn school yards into parks for those who are not near a green space. That would involved getting rid of some of the asphalt and adding plants.
“Can we start designing what that might look like,” he asked RAP staff. “Can we look at the costs? We need to do this if we’re going to help the underserved.”
At this meeting, the commissioners voted to approve the renaming of Grape Street Park to Betty F. Day Park.
Although not a “famous” person, Day should be recognized for her community involvement.
She was born on February 2, 1940, and her parents moved from Texas to California.
Day married her husband Arthur in 1955 and settled in the Watts community, where she would live for more than 70 years. She passed away on March 17, 2022.
She and her husband raised eight children and served as a foster parent to numerous others.
Since her early 20s, Day ran the Watts Towers Teen Post, affiliated with the Watts Towers Art Center. This space provided a safe place for children after school and promoted community pride.
After the Post closed, Day continued to work locally for the community-based nonprofit Watts Labor Community Action Committee and the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Upon retirement from LAUSD, Ms. Day became the Board President and Founder of the Watts Gang Task Force. She was also part of the LAPD Southeast Division community advisory board, where she played an instrumental role in helping improve relations between the Watts community and the LAPD.
In a letter to the RAP commissioners urging the park’s name change, UCLA Professor Jorja Leap wrote, “When the Grape Street Pocket Park was created, she supported it, rain or shine. So much so that during budget crises, she spent her own money on park maintenance. I fondly remember a day not long before her death when she asked me to accompany her to ‘her’ park to see if the gardener was doing a good job.”
Grape Street Pocket Park is now the Betty F. Day Park.