The seventy-thousand acres of parkland and 182 parks overseen by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation span two-hundred miles of trails, the world’s largest municipal golf course, twenty-two natural areas and wildlife sanctuaries, nine nature centers, thirty pools, four gardens, and the Hollywood Bowl—a huge and diverse array of opportunities for leisure and play. But the department is committed to delivering needed services and programs to LA County communities beyond recreation, sometimes in partnership with other County departments, such as deterring violence and gangs and offering activities that foster education and health.
The responsibility—and potential—for parks and recreation agencies to improve people’s lives is highlighted by the fact that nationally, they are the largest public provider of healthy meals and snacks to children outside of schools. Data has shown that life expectancy is higher in park-rich communities. Public health and mental health metrics are improved, as is educational attainment. Following a 2016 county-wide assessment of park needs, the Department of Parks and Recreation, which is highly focused on social equity, seeks to deepen its involvement with the communities it serves, in particular, those of vulnerable populations. Yet it is constrained by a lack of resources. Relying primarily on the County’s General Fund, which directs most of its allocations to other priorities, the Department’s budget is only twenty percent revenue-funded, a share it would like to increase to fifty percent.
To achieve its goals and vision of becoming a world-class organization, Parks and Recreation will develop a plan that identifies ways to generate revenue, fund enhanced services and ensure access of low-income families and children to programs and green space. To support this work, Parks and Recreation will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive fellow for one year who will research best revenue generating practices and models among other park and recreation agencies, develop a comprehensive analysis of opportunities for revenue generation and develop a sustainable Revenue Generation and Implementation Plan which includes a facility/event fee structure. If successful, the fellow will play a key role in helping Park and Recreation become more self-sufficient and provide LA County residents with services that enrich their lives.
Project Summary & Potential Deliverables
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the fellow and the host agency.
Starting in September 2018, it is proposed that the FUSE Fellow will begin by meeting with Parks and Recreation executives to gain an understanding of the department’s social values and goals for adding more intentional community programming. Using strong research skills to quickly access information, the fellow will become acquainted with all facets of the Department of Park and Recreation including its assets and current revenue schemes. The fellow will also research other models of revenue-generation among park and recreation agencies and best practices.
The fellow will then turn to re-evaluating existing revenue schemes and exploring new revenue-generating opportunities, relying on creativity and business expertise to bring the department’s revenue share to fifty percent. Leveraging knowledge of and experience with financing models, fee structures and successful implementation of revenue generation plans, the fellow will create a comprehensive analysis, and tap presentation and communication skills and leadership ability in presenting them to stakeholders and guiding discussions among them.
Working closely with Parks and Recreation executive management, the fellow will design a plan for generating additional revenue and funding enhanced services that reflects a commitment to social values. By leading the effort to establish a plan, the fellow will help Parks and Recreation become more self-reliant, increase revenues and fund services and programs that will improve the health, education, and welfare of County residents, and especially vulnerable populations.
- Learn about best practices and Parks and Recreation’s goals – Meet with the department’s executive management to establish relationships and discuss objectives related to enhancing community service, raising revenues to fifty percent and becoming more self-sustainable. Review and re-evaluate the department’s current revenue sources. Research revenue models among other park and recreation agencies and determine best practices.
- Conduct a landscape assessment of the department’s assets and revenues – Become thoroughly familiar with the department’s large and varied assets through investigation and gathering information that may not be easily accessible. Assess each asset’s current revenue contribution. Evaluate each asset in terms of its sustainable revenue generating potentials. Research any relevant County regulations and laws.
- Explore and evaluate possible revenue-generating models – For each asset and class of assets, consider possible sources of revenue within the context of ensuring low-income residents access to park facilities and services. Consider how revenue-generating models at other park and recreational departments could be implemented in LA County and how those models might need to be adapted. Produce new ideas and explore partnerships. Conduct brainstorm sessions with executives and managers. Conduct cost-benefit analyses on options under consideration, such as concessions, facility rental fees for events like Quinceañeras and weddings, and staging festivals and concerts, land lease agreements and advertising. Model immediate, short- and long-term revenue impacts.
- Create a comprehensive analysis and plan – Synthesize all information produced by research, discussion, and evaluative effort. Produce a comprehensive analysis of sources and methods of increasing revenues that addresses specific assets and will be sustainable long-term. Working closely with Parks and Recreation executives, guide stakeholder discussions of analysis. Work to coalesce support creating buy-in and momentum for change. Design a plan reflecting the department’s consensus. Include steps to be taken, timetables, organizational structures, mechanisms and metrics for evaluation and adjustment going forward, to ensure plan continues to reflect evolving needs and realities.
- Norma E. Garcia, Chief Deputy Director, Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation
- Malou Rubio, Deputy Director, Administrative Services Agency, Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation
- At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a strong background in finance, cost-benefit analysis, business operation models, developing fee structures and Microsoft Excel. Experience with nonprofits, foundations or corporate giving beneficial.
- Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
- Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
- Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
- Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
- Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
- Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
- Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous environments.
- Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations.
- Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.