Joassart-Marcelli, P. (2010). Leveling the Playing Field? Urban Disparities in Funding for Local Parks and Recreation in the Los Angeles Region. Environment and Planning A, 42(5), 1174-1192.
Access to parks and recreational facilities, as well as their quality, congestion, and affordability, relates to physical activity levels and, in turn, various health outcomes. Yet park and recreational resources are often insufficient and unevenly distributed within metropolitan regions. This paper documents and analyzes the allocation of federal, state, special district, municipal, and nonprofit resources to parks and recreation facilities across municipalities within the Los Angeles region. Results indicate that local funding for parks and recreation resources is highly uneven (from less than 1 to over 500 per capita annually). Because most park and recreation spending originates at the local level, fiscally healthier cities allocate more resources to these uses. State and nonprofits funds tend to favor middle-income communities and fail to equalize spending. Inner-ring suburbs with large minority populations, and low-income exurban communities are most likely to suffer from low expenditure. Federal devolution, increased localization of service provision, and limited intergovernmental transfers have resulted in large intrametropolitan disparities in the distribution of resources for parks and recreation, ultimately shaping the landscape of health risks for local populations.