Measure A will replace expiring local funding for safe, clean neighborhood parks. The Board of Supervisors originally were pursuing a 3 cent per square foot assessment, but reduced it to 1.5 cents before placing the measure on the ballot as a result of feedback from the business community. The recent in-depth needs assessment shows half of existing parks have amenities in fair or poor condition, assessing over $20 billion in urgent funding needs. The County’s previous funding sources have provided critical funding since the 1992 and are set to expire completely; leaving cities without funds they have been relying on for years for park staffing, maintenance and development.
The Board of Supervisors originally were pursuing a 3 to 5 cent per square foot assessment, but reduced it to 1.5 cents before placing the measure on the ballot as a result of feedback from the business community.
According to LAROSD estimates based on countywide square footage totals by Assessor’s Use Code, the estimated distribution of the parcel tax, if approved by voters will be as follows:
63.5% Residential square footage
36.5% Commercial/Industrial square footage
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IMPACTS OF PARKS
Increasing Property Values While Decreasing Vacancy Rates
Parks increase property values significantly, with properties within 500 feet of a park or green space going up 20% in value. Property close to parks and green space lead to lower vacancy rates as these properties typically sell or rent quicker –and for more–than properties further away from parks or open
Source: Brad Broberg, “Everybody Loves a Park: Green Space Is a Premium When Building, Buying, or Selling,” National Association of Realtors, On Common Ground (2009): 20–25.
Direct visitor spending relative to tourism in Los Angeles County is $19.6 billion annually, which generates $1.3 billion in local tax revenue. Parks have an incredible impact on tourism, bringing people from out of the region here to spend money on food, lodging, souvenirs, entertainment, etc., while inducing them to extend their visits.
Information provided by Visit California, reveals that 7.7 percent of visitors to California come primarily to take part in outdoor recreation.
More specifically, recent tourism research in Los Angeles County found that 49.8% of leisure visitors in LA go to the beach, while 20.7% of leisure visitors in LA take part in outdoor activities.
Source: Chelsea Hoff, Tourism Insights, Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, e-mail message with the author, January 7, 2016. This email included information produced by Destination Analysts.
Creative Economy and Worker Retention
Studies indicate that parks are critical to boosting the creative economy and creating livable communities, as residents and workers want choices and walkable communities. Attracting and retaining the best workers means investing in quality of life and growing Los Angeles’ brand as being the best place to work and live.
A study by Headwaters Economics described that in “today’s economy,. Source: Headwaters Economics, The Economic Benefits of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (November 2009, http://headwaterseconomics.org/pubs/protected-lands/LWCF_Economic_Benefits.pdf).
As the County of Los Angeles competes with other major metropolitan areas and cities, such as the Bay Area, to attract high-tech workers, it should be noted young, high-tech workers pick lifestyle factors like recreation opportunities more than a job itself. Indeed, one study showed that one-third of high-tech workers found that a job’s attractiveness increases by 33% in a community with high quality of life.
(Garry Sears and Daniela De Cecco, “High-Tech Labour Survey: Attracting and Retaining High-Tech Workers”-KPMG and CATA Alliance, June 5, 1998)
Return on Investment and Cost Effectiveness
Parks are unparalleled in terms of cost benefits and bang for the buck; investments in parks have exponential returns in terms of air quality, water resources, health, youth development, cooling, flood/fire/sea-level rise resilience, mobility options, public health, and crime prevention.
This is a replacement tax, so there is much at risk in terms of cuts to funding of park and green space maintenance, development and protection. The county-wide needs assessment identified over $20 billion of need, and this measure would only generate around $4 billion in the next 30+ years.