Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Small for a street lighting yard, great for a park

The Bureau of Street Lighting keeps the roads light at night. You may have seen historical examples of their fine work on display in the Rite Aid parking lot on Santa Monica near Vermont. The yard itself is just the other side of the street, at 4550 Santa Monica Boulevard.

But the yard's small size of 4 acres constrains their work. Staff there have told me that they need a fueling station for their compressed natural gas equipment, and their office space is absurdly crampled.

I've been eyeing this lot as a potential park location ever since I got into office. It makes perfect sense. It's right between an elementary school and a library. It's in the relatively park-poor neighborhood of Virgil Village. And I'm not the only one who has seen a park beneath the lampposts, either. The members of the Greater Silver Lake Parks Coalition are only a few of the neighbors who have encouraged me to pursue the greening of the yard.

The funding has started to come together. Prop K has $1.5 million set aside for this project. That may sound like a lot, but it's just a start: cobbling together the full funding for the park this community deserves will be a real challenge. From that, the LA for Kids oversight committee recently designated $15,000 for putting the environmental documentation together. And I have some ideas about where we could move the street lighting yard.

What's more, a park in that location can help the city comply with the Clean Water Act by serving as a natural filter for street runoff. Do you remember the work we did with the Bimini Slough? A larger park could offer more recreation opportunities for more people and do even more for the environment.

The opportunity is before us. With Los Angeles as desperately short of green space as it is, we can't afford to miss it.