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'Pocket park' aims to increase green space in LA neighborhoods

March 14, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A sliver of land in Harbor Gateway South is about to be transformed in to Los Angeles' first "pocket park." It's just 1,000 square feet, but it's having a big impact on the community's sense of safety.

"It takes care of the sex offenders and keeps the kids off the street gives them somewhere to play," said resident Janet Shour.

Until now there was no green space in the 13-block neighborhood, but there was an unusually high number of registered sex offenders - more than 130 of them at its peak.

"Our big concern was student safety, our children were afraid," said Marcia Reed, principal at 186th Street Elementary. "I had to actually call the police in one incident where one of the sex offender chased a few of our children and they were so afraid."

The community turned to their senior lead LAPD Officer Brian Cook for help. His idea was to use a tiny piece of city-owned property and the law to take back the streets.

"Jessica's Law is out there and says registered sex offenders on parole or probation can't live within 2,000 feet of a park or school, that's where the idea came from," he said.

Once the park is built at the corner of Torrance Boulevard and Denker Avenue, the number of registered sex offenders in the area is expected to drop more than 95 percent, giving residents some relief and kids some hope.

"There's not that many parks around the area so kids don't have anywhere to play so I think it's a great idea," said 9-year-old Savannah Marmolejo.

The park is expected to be completed in June and will be the smallest park in the city.


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