Summer in southern California is synonymous with going to the beach. But for many Angelenos living in urban communities, taking part in this summer ritual isn't easy. Parks Now, a coalition of experts, activists and community leaders, teamed up with a group of San Fernando Valley teenagers from Youth Speak Collective, as well as Senate President pro Tem Kevin de Leon, to see what it's really like for these Los Angeles natives to take a trip to the beach.
The video follows 17-year-old Dan Hernandez departing from Mission Hills, and 20-year-old Nuvia Jara, who departs from Calabasas. While Nuvia's 20-mile ride to Zuma Beach using the Calabasas Beach Bus, a service provided by the city, takes her under 45 minutes, Dan's 20-mile trek to Will Rogers State Beach requires two buses and nearly as many hours.
"No matter where you live, every Angeleno should be able to enjoy the quintessential California experience that is going to the beach," said Senator Kevin de Leon, who is currently sponsoring legislation that would increase resources for urban neighborhood parks. "Transportation is a critical issue as we think about how to ensure our recreational spaces serve the needs of a more diverse and a more urban California."
The video documents just one of the many challenges that face California's parks. The Parks Forward Commission identifies transportation to parks as a key obstacle that uniquely affects low-income urban communities. Recommended are more readily available and affordable options, though meaningful movement on this issue has yet to be seen.
While cities like Moorpark and Thousand Oaks also provide their residents with services like the Calabasas Beach Bus, the city of Los Angeles is moving in the opposite direction, considering cuts to bus routes that take riders to the beach. Groups like Parks Now are working to raise awareness of the issue, and to call on leaders to take meaningful action towards making California's parks increasingly diverse and inclusive spaces.