Vista Hermosa Park, a Jewel in Downtown L.A.

Jul 14, 2010 by Lisa Newton

The other day, after eating lunch at The Village Kitchen, I took a slight detour and headed for Vista Hermosa Park.

Born out of what used to be old oil fields, an earthquake fault and what had become a weed-infested, dusty lot; Vista Hermosa Park is a 10.5 acre treasure in a big city. Amazing, this park is downtown Los Angeles’ first new public park built since 1895.

Meaning “beautiful view” is Spanish, Vista Hermosa Park is located atop the hills on North Toluca Street, and does present wonderful vistas.

But, beautiful views are just one of the great features of this park:

All of the park buildings are topped with “green” planted roofs that retain rainwater and provide insulation, keeping the buildings warm in the winter and cool in the summer. In addition, not only do they save energy, the plants absorb CO2 and other pollutants from the atmosphere. Personally, I love the idea. More houses should have a roof top garden included.

Being a self-contained watershed, Vista Hermosa Park uses almost every drop either by watering the native Southern California drought resistant plants or capturing it to use for irrigation. By combining permeable surfaces like the parking lot and sidewalks, which allows the water to soak into the ground; and the underground cistern system, which captures water and reserves for the drier months, Vista Hermosa Park is an example of state of the art landscape design and sustainable technologies.

Adjoining the park is a FIFA-regulation soccer field, which is made of synthetic turf that requires no irrigation and allows for absorption of rainwater. It’s used jointly used by the adjacent Edward R. Roybal Learning Center and the LA Department of Recreation and Parks.

Other Vista Hermosa Park features include:

  • Walking trails
  • Meadows
  • Picnic grounds
  • A nature-themed playground

With only 33% of Los Angeles residents living within a quarter-mile of a park, compared to 97% for Boston and 91% for New York, Vista Hermosa Park is an example of how our city parks should be expanding and built. BTW, nationwide, the average park space per 1,000 residents is six to 10 acres; in Los Angeles it’s only 3.4 acres.

Vista Hermosa Park is a joint project of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority and is definitely worth visiting.

Based on the beauty and thought put into Vista Hermosa Park, we can do better and build a few–or a lot more parks like this in Los Angeles.

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