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play / 2015

San Gabriel Mountains Forever: Increasing Public Access to Our Local Mountains

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by The Council of Mexican Federations (COFEM)

The San Gabriel Mountains make up 70% of LA County’s open space. We want people from park-poor communities to have access to the mountains. We will develop a transit-to-trails pilot program to identify socioeconomic gaps in access to the San Gabriels and to demonstrate how people can reach the mountains via public transit.

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • San Gabriel Valley
  • Antelope Valley
  • Through the research we will identify one more park-poor community in LA City

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Conduct research
  • Engage residents and stakeholders
  • Implement a pilot or new project
  • Mobilize for systems change
  • Advocate with policymakers and leaders

How will your proposal improve the following “Play” metrics?

  • Access to open space and park facilities
  • Residents within 1⁄4 mile of a park (Dream Metric)
  • Number of residents with easy access to a “vibrant” park (Dream Metric)
  • Number of parks with intergenerational play opportunities (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to play.

The San Gabriel Mountains rise above Los Angeles, stretching from Santa Clarita to San Bernardino county, and act as the recreational backyard for more than 17 million Southern Californians. In 2014, President Obama recognized their value and created the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. The mountains make up 70% of LA County’s open space and provide us with more than one-third of our drinking water.

A shortage of urban open space, combined with the region’s obesity, diabetes, and asthma crises, positions these mountains as an essential recreational space. Despite their proximity to millions of people, the San Gabriels are not accessible to many LA County residents because of socioeconomic barriers. The limited public transit options and shortage of multilingual information make it difficult for some communities to learn that the mountains are there for public use and enjoyment. Without remedying these barriers, residents without cars will continue to lack access to this incredible place.

We want residents from all walks of life to enjoy the San Gabriels. Therefore, we propose a pilot that will get people from underserved communities to the mountains. The project will consist of research to identify the neighborhoods that would benefit the most from visiting and learning about the San Gabriels. We will then identify locations in the forest that could be easily accessed for recreation as well as potential public transit routes for getting there. Next, we will select three communities to participate. Through public engagement and education, we will invite residents from these communities to attend an outing to the San Gabriel Mountains on free shuttle buses. The shuttle service will allow people with no cars and few monetary resources to spend a day in the mountains. All information we gather will be multilingual and widely distributed both to participants and to the greater public through our promotoras network and online social media engagement.

We anticipate finding gaps in public transit routes and options to the San Gabriel Mountains. This is important because we will take this information back to public officials and leaders to highlight the need for a transit-to-trails type program such as weekend shuttles to the mountains. We will enlist the participants to help us advocate for increased access through policy. Thus our project will address the environmental justice issue of disparate access to open space in Los Angeles County.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

We will evaluate our work through interview-based feedback from participants. Our interview protocol will ask both qualitative and quantitative questions to best determine the public opinion of transit-to-trails and to identify barriers to accessing the monument. Data from interviews will help us identify the barriers to access, possible bridges to access, the value of the mountains to the public, and how to improve transit-to-trails, and best produce multilingual information for diverse communities.

After the pilot is over, we will also conduct follow-up interviews with participants to determine if they have since visited the mountains, why or why not, and if they see a need for Transit-to-Trails. In addition to interviewing pilot participants, we will interview non-participants to identify unanticipated barriers to access.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach
  • Quality improvement research