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This report provides the results of a two-year research study by the Loyola Marymount University Center for Urban Resilience (CURes) to examine park visitation and user behavior and attitudes in the Baldwin Hills Parklands. Supported by the Baldwin Hill Conservancy through California Proposition 84 funding, the goal of this study was to better understand how individuals are using and interacting with the Baldwin Hills Parklands. It is the first large-scale, multi-year, field-based attendance survey and multifaceted analysis of visitors’ experiences in the Parklands, consisting of a pilot and four comprehensive field seasons.

Building on a pilot phase in 2014, 38 CURes research assistants spent 1,934 hours in the parks over four field seasons from 2015-2017. Researchers conducted 1,747 park user surveys, completed counts of 12,709 parks visitors, analyzed 4,998 images from park entrances, and produced reports and outreach materials. The results show that the Baldwin Hills Parklands:

  • receive high levels of visitation, especially on weekends, with the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area serving the largest user population at any one time, and the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park having the highest visitation on average;
  • have a devoted population of frequent users that tend to visit only one park within the Baldwin Hills Parklands;
  • are visited by people who are highly civically engaged, have a moderate understanding of the local environment, and are very interested in learning more about the environment of the region;
  • are visited by users mostly arriving by car who tend to enter through main park entrances, with no trouble finding parking;
  • receive a substantial number of visitors who would prefer to arrive by foot or bicycle, and even more who would be interested in taking the park shuttle but were not aware of it;
  • support both active recreation and passive enjoyment of nature, with walking and enjoying nature as the top two activities indicated by users;
  • are visited by users who do not often go to the coast, though nearly all indicate a willingness to walk or bike on a recreational trail to visit the beach;
  • serve a diverse population of users from Los Angeles County that are, on average, relatively young, highly educated, and of low to moderate income, which is not entirely consistent with the surrounding population; and
  • receive visitors with highly positive sentiments and attachments to the parks.

These findings suggest that the Baldwin Hills Parklands are an integral natural resource in the Los Angeles region. They also provide a foundation to guide continued work to better understand, improve, and promote the use of the parklands. This report details the findings of the two-year study, provides interpretations of the results and recommendations for the Baldwin Hills Conservancy.

Recommended Citation

Romolini, M., Strauss, E.G., Bruce-Eisen, S., & Simso, E.R. (2017). The Value of Urban Parklands: A User Study of the Baldwin Hills (Research Report). Los Angeles, CA: Loyola Marymount University Center for Urban Resilience.