Launch of 50 Parks Initiative could increase value of Los Angeles real estate

In an ambitious effort to create additional open space in the Los Angeles city limits, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa launched the 50 Parks Initiative at 49th Street Park in South Los Angeles. The initiative will add more than 170 acres of new park space to Los Angeles, and could increase the property value of real estate in Los Angeles located in close proximity to the new parks. “New parks help stabilize neighborhoods and increase property values by removing blight from abandoned buildings and empty lots and revamping underutilized public property,” said Mercedes Marquez, Interim General Manager for the Los Angeles Housing Department and Deputy Mayor for Housing, during a news conference. “The 50 Parks program will help us in our effort to turn around the neighborhoods hardest hit by the recession.”

A study conducted by The Trust for Public Land reported that proximity to parks increases the value of real estate. Research showed that properties within 500 feet of a park can increase in value by more than 5 percent. Open space can also stimulate the real estate market because consumers prefer homes close to parks and recreation. The study reported that a greenbelt added $5.4 million to the total property values of one neighborhood in Boulder, Colorado. Property value is linked to the strength of local economies, and researchers concluded that parks boost city revenue by attracting tourists and locals to shops and restaurants in close proximity to open space used for outdoor recreation.

The 50 Parks Initiative will use many properties left vacant in the wake of the housing crisis for new urban parks. So far, 53 locations have been identified for inclusion in the initiative and five parks have officially opened to the public. It takes between four and six months to create each park, and the Los Angeles Housing Department hopes to open 16 of the 53 parks prior to July 2013.

A quarter of the parks are less than an acre in size, yet many of the tiny parks include environmentally sustainable features. Solar-powered, self-contained waste bins in the new parks will reduce waste by holding five times the average amount of trash. They also help with park maintenance and keep pests out of the vicinity. Drought-tolerant plants and smart irrigation will assist with water conservation, and LED lighting will reduce energy costs. Safety features of the proposed parks include automatic locking gates and solar motion-activated cameras.