Taking a lesson from the narrow defeat last fall of a parcel tax for park projects, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously authorized a $3.5-million review of recreational facilities and needs throughout the nation's largest county.
Officials said the Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment was necessary before they considered placing another parks tax measure on the ballot, perhaps as early as next year.
The assessment, to be developed with help from residents of the county's 88 cities and unincorporated communities, also is meant to guide officials as they decide how to spend the approximately $140 million remaining from earlier parks tax measures.
Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich and Mark Ridley-Thomas, who both opposed the failed Proposition P measure on the Nov. 4 ballot, said the assessment would address a weakness of the previous proposal, which fell a few percentage points short of the two-thirds approval majority needed for passage.
"The final product will not only identify geographic areas with the highest need for parks and open space but will identify, prioritize and outline costs for specific park and/or open space projects," Antonovich and Ridley-Thomas said in their motion calling for the study.
Proposition P would have assessed a $23 annual tax on each parcel of property in the county and generated an estimated $54 million annually for 30 years.
The Sierra Club's Los Angeles chapter opposed the measure, saying that its spending formula made it likely poor communities would not receive a fair share of funding and too much money would go to buildings and administration.
Recently elected Supervisor Hilda Solis called the assessment "long overdue."
Ridley-Thomas said the survey would be the first of its kind for the county.
Officials expect to complete the assessment in about 16 months. They said it would include an analysis of all the parks, hiking trails, botanical gardens, wildlife sanctuaries and the like within county boundaries, as well as identify areas with the greatest need for additional recreational amenities.