This 38-acre urban park is a genius solution to the great need of the residents of Los Angeles.
– Bill Roschen, President, LACPC

IOBY (In Our Back Yard)
29 March 2020

By David Carrera

David Carrera is a general pain-in-the-ass and cranky pants resident of Hollywood of 30 years. Originally from Northern California, Hollywood is now home where he lives with his wife and where they are raising their daughter. Much to the chagrin of his wife, Hollywood might be the place where he grows old and perfects the art of “you kids get off my lawn” and “back in my day….”. He most enjoys spending his time hanging with his family and getting out into nature.

Parks are for all. They don’t discriminate; they allow entrance to everyone, regardless of race, religion, color, or income. There really should be a mini Statue of Liberty at every park entrance, the famous quote “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free… “ welcoming us poor urban dwellers. “Poor” as in deficient in open green space, not necessarily “poor” as in money, though as an aside, I don’t see as many wealthy folks in parks as I do middle and working class. Which when you think about it, only makes sense, why go to a park if you live on an acre, park like lot in Hancock Park? I mean, it’s got “park” right in the name after all.

I’m a park guy. I’ve spent, and spend, a lot of time in parks. National Parks, State Parks, City Parks, you name it, I need what parks have to offer. I used to do 3-4 months a year in Yosemite, countless days in Joshua Tree, hundreds of days and nights in State parks like Malibu Creek and Leo Carillo. I saw scores of City parks driving through Colorado with a 3-year old, where we stopped two, three times a day at whatever small town park we could let our daughter play in. I saw so many parks in that 2-week road trip I was considering writing a Colorado park (city-park) guidebook!

I don’t always have the time to get out to those bigger parks and consequently spend a lot of time in my closest LA park, which happens to be De Longpre Park on De Longpre and June in Hollywood. It’s a wonderful small park, with great big old trees and some interesting history where in 1959 Jerry Fuller wrote the Ricky Nelson hit “Travelin’ Man” (thanks Tom LaBonge!) and Rudolph Valentino has two memorial statues (see some old photos here)

I’m in it almost every day. I walk my dog there; I took my daughter as a baby there every day until she started kindergarten. She has a lot of early childhood memories there, things she still talks about (and hopefully always will). I grew up spending all my free time outside. I find it healing, even if it’s only for a short duration, so I’ll take what I can get, where I can get it. Just a few minutes a day can even me out and really takes the edge off. That said, a small park like De Longpre is doing like ten-triple overtime heavy lifting duty with all the density in Hollywood and so few parks.

Last June, on the last day of school, we had sixty 5th graders over and the kids went crazy playing, running, scootering, and biking in the street. Yes, in the street, because we live on a small dead-end street, and the fact that it couldn’t have happened at De Longpre around the corner. It was not only too trashed with holes and dog poop everywhere to consider (but is currently receiving a big sprucing up-thanks David Ryu!) but there wouldn’t have been the room, what with the dogs and little kids and lawn loungers. So, we had them play in the street, like we still lived in the 1920’s in some Our Gang episode. It was a crazy sight, one that had to be seen to be believed. But it was super fun, the kids had a blast, and the neighbors were only momentarily annoyed. DeLongpre Park was built in 1924 for $66,000, which sounds like a lot for the time, so maybe the City Planners then (if there were any) wrestled with the same hurdles that we do today in building parks. Or maybe it was just as simple as kids played in the street and parks seemed unnecessary.

I don’t really know why we ended up so park deficient, but we are. We’re not going to be ripping down houses to build more parks anytime soon, so what do we do? How do we get to where most people agree we need to be -- where more people can escape city life for a few moments to take the edge off? I think it’s obvious that one big piece of the puzzle is Hollywood’s Cap Park. I can’t help but curse those guys from a hundred years ago who didn’t have the foresight to plan for our park needs today. How will we be judged a hundred years from now? Hopefully they’ll look back and say, “Thank God those guys a hundred years ago got that freeway covered with a park”.

David Carrera