Palisades Recreation Center Earns A- from City

By Sue Pascoe
Photos by Lesly Hall Photography

Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin paid $340,902 to KH Consulting Group, the Rand Corporation and two USC faculty members working for the Office of the Designed Landscape to grade 40 of the 95 city parks.

The lowest overall grade was a C- at MacArthur Park, the highest an A-, earned by the Palisades Recreation Center.

According to Galperin’s Director of Communications James Nash, “As a rule, the teams made multiple visits to the parks that had identified problems to confirm them,” he wrote in a Sept. 15 email to the News. “Pacific Palisades had one site visit by a team of two.”

The Palisades children’s playground is about 30 years old, and not handicapped accessible, but received an A- grade. Extra sand was added about four years ago and is raked every two weeks by park maintenance, according to Rec Center Director Erich Haas.

The small gym at the Rec Center needs new paint, windows replaced and the floors redone, but yet it received an A-.

The News asked Nash if structure age or accessibility was factored into the rating. “They looked at handicap accessibility for restrooms (points deducted if not accessible) and children’s playgrounds (bonus points added),” Nash said.

The old gym at the Rec Center has broken windows (Haas has put in an order to have them replaced) and “has not been painted since I’ve been here (April 1, 2008),” Haas said. Nor has the entire basketball court been refinished, though “about five years ago, the city came in and repaired the area in front of the men’s restroom where the floor had buckled due to flooding caused by a plumbing problem in the men’s restroom.”

Still, Palisades Rec received an A- for interiors, including the preschool area and the larger new gym.

The athletic fields (including the four Field of Dreams baseball diamonds, which are maintained by private donations) received an A. And even though the water fountains on the Field of Dreams are currently not turned out, the park’s water fountains received an A.

Despite a glowing grade, the small gym at the Palisades Recreation Center needs some work.

The Rec Center also received a B for graffiti control and the restrooms received a B+. Landscaping received a B, which could reflect the fact that 28 trees had to be cut down in the park last year, including the five pines on the island directly in front of the old gym.

Nash said, “As for the trees, you are correct in that the drought has thinned the tree canopy regionally, and Palisades is no exception. Due to pests, disease and drought, Rec and Parks estimates it will lose 30 percent of its trees over the next three to five years. Such losses would harm the city, since trees offer significant environmental and health benefits.”

Palisades received a surprising A for picnic tables, so the News asked Nash for the criteria. “The two L.A. Parks that received C grades were Lou Costello and David M. Gonzales,” he said. “They had aging or broken tables or benches. The two L.A. Parks with no picnic areas are 109th Street and Leland Park [receiving no grade].”

Despite a glowing grade, the small gym at the Palisades Recreation Center needs some work.

We asked if the parks, overall, were graded “on a curve,” since overall the highest grade a park received was an A- and the lowest a C-.

Nash responded, “Our researchers used as objective a set of criteria as possible in assessing the condition of indoor and outdoor facilities, cleanliness and other factors. There was no attempt to ‘skew’ the grades either positively or negatively. For example, more than a third of the parks received failing grades for bathrooms.”

According to a September 13 press release, the controller is urging the Department of Recreation and Parks to grade L.A.’s parks as a measurement of safety, sanitary conditions and programs and services.

In that same release, DRP General Manager Michael Shull said: “We are proud of the work our staff performs daily but also acknowledge the need to continuously innovate and improve. We appreciate the collaboration with the L.A. Controller’s Office.”

Rustic Canyon Rec Center was not graded. Grades can be viewed at

Despite a glowing grade, the small gym at the Palisades Recreation Center needs some work.
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