As reported by the Downtown News today in an article titled, “Skid Row Parks Get Temporary Funding” you can read here, Councilwoman Jan Perry authorized the City Council to use $175,000 in LAHSA funds to operate San Julian and Gladys Parks which will cover operating them for the next 6 months. Funding to keep these parks operational in the future has yet to be determined. SRO Housing Corporation will provide security and maintenance for these parks 7 days a week. This is a lovely gesture by Ms. Perry considering she is getting termed out of the 9th District soon and will move on to the next stage of her career. It also sets a precedence of giving that others can and hopefully will follow, that being one of giving to Skid Row’s parks continued maintenance. I have heard specifically from more than one local resident that what is needed in the parks is more “positive programming”, things such as musical events, educational forums and arts festivals all need funding and the parks are a great place to hold such events.
I have not touched on Skid Row’s two parks in my blog much at all up until now because I have not had enough information about them to form any sorts of opinions yet. My focus has been getting to understand the dynamics of planting trees on the public sidewalks of Skid Row- cutting concrete, what types of trees would do best in our neighborhood and even beginning to think about what other upgrades the neighborhood’s public spaces could use- things such as benches, public art and more.
I have been getting more and more involved with the DLANC Parks and Open Space Committee though, and have come to understand the precious nature and need to support downtown’s limited park space. I have been hearing about the obstacles and steps needed to get the new Spring Street park up and running, all the while trying to keep my mind open like a sponge so as to extract any pertinent information that might be applied to the Skid Row parks.
The two parks in Skid Row both have very different and interesting histories that I would like to begin to learn more about so that I might understand how I can best help support them. Some of the history is downright scary- but important to know nonetheless. In the past few months I have attended a Skid Row 3ON3 Street Ball game at Gladys park, and a musical concert by Agape in San Julain Park.
When I landed in DTLA about 3 years ago, I first stayed in an SRO, which I lived in for about a year and a half until I was able to get back on my feet after the Great Recession forced me to relocate back to LA for work. Since then, I have put down more permanent roots downtown. One thing that I know first-hand about Skid Row, my new home- is that being in such small living quarters, the need to get some fresh air and be outside your “room” is essential for one’s physical and mental health. For this reason alone, the public space, including Gladys and San Julian parks in Skid Row are of heightened importance and I believe integral to the well-being of the community.
Thank you Jan Perry!