One City, One Community:
Why the West Side of Rancho Cucamonga Should Not be Split into Eight Streetlight and Park Funding Districts
The West Side of Rancho Cucamonga should not be split into eight streetlight and park funding districts. We live in a community, an incorporated city, so that we can share resources, create a pleasant environment surrounded by other pleasant environments, and work together to provide equal opportunities for our citizens, particularly our children.
The southern portion of the west side of the city has lower housing values, and lower income than the northern parts of the region. Income is positively correlated with latitude. Eight new districts would create a series of city services that match this income distribution, with limited or no services in the southern part of the city where $100 per year is a tremendous amount of money, to abundant services in the north where each household can absorb far more than $100 per year without notice. The southern part of Rancho Cucamonga has fewer parks, less access to green space, low levels of access to grocery stores, and lower elementary school test scores than the northern part of the city. We need to reduce these disparities to provide the opportunity for every resident to reach their full potential, to make Rancho Cucamonga a better place to live for all of us.
Figure 1: Income Distribution in Rancho Cucamonga (1)
The southern portion of the city has far less access to parks and open space than the northern portion of the city. The area from Arrow Highway to the southern border of the city has three parks total, including Bear Gulch Park located on the north side of Arrow Highway. There are 12 Parks from Foothill Boulevard to Baseline Road, and 14 north of Baseline Road, not including Central Park, which is located on Baseline Road, so is included in the area from Foothill to Baseline. The northern area, the area that also has access to the city’s equestrian trails, North Etiwanda Preserve, Cucamonga Demen’s trail, Baseline Road Trail, Cucamonga Creek Trail, Day Creek Trail, Frontline Trail, Deer Creek Trail, and Edison Schaefer Connector. (2)
Additionally, the three parks in the southern portion of the city are already devoid of the services in the north. It will take far more money to create parks and make those we have, such as Bear Gulch, with its non-reservable picnic tables and basic playground equipment, worth visiting, whereas Heritage park, with its trails, numerous athletic fields, and equestrian facilities will take minimal investment to maintain or enhance. If revenues are lowered in the southern part of the city, a disproportionate amount of the funding will go to streetlight maintenance instead of parks. Because streetlights reduce crime, shouldn’t be provided only for the wealthy. (3) Moreover, streetlight funding should not come at the expense of park funding.
Figure 2: Parks in Rancho Cucamonga (4)
Grocery Access and Food Deserts
The southern part of the city contains two food deserts, defined as a census tract with a substantial share of residents who live in low-income areas that have low levels of access to a grocery store or healthy, affordable food retail outlet, by the United States Department of Agriculture. The first food desert is the census tract bordered by Foothill Boulevard to the north, Archibald Avenue to the west, the canal nearing Haven Avenue to the east, and 8th Street to the south. The second is bounded by Grove Avenue on the west, Foothill Boulevard to the north, Baker Avenue to the east, and 8th Street to the south (5)
Figure 3: City of Rancho Cucamonga Food Deserts
Figure 4: Census Tract bordered by Foothill Boulevard, Archibald Avenue, the canal nearing Haven Avenue, and 8th Street
Figure 5: Census Tract bordered by Grove Avenue, Foothill Boulevard, Baker Avenue, and 8th Street
School Test Scores
A similar disparity in services and opportunity provided to residents in different parts of the city is reflected in the Annual Percentage Increase in test scores of the elementary schools. Test scores indicate a clear increase as you move from south to north on the west side of the city.6-7
Figure 6: Alta Loma and Central School District Elementary School APIs arranged from South to North 2012-2013
South of Arrow
Los Amigos Elementary 808
Cucamonga Elementary 775
Arrow to Foothill
Bear Gulch Elementary 882
Foothill to Baseline
Central Elementary 847
Coyote Canyon 836
Valle Vista Elementary 860
Dona Merced Elementary 860
Terra Vista 894
North of Baseline
Alta Loma Elementary 833
Carnelian Elementary 877
Victoria Groves Elementary 894
Jasper Elementary 856
Deer Canyon Elementary 885
Banyan Elementary 886
Hermosa Elementary 903
Floyd M. Stork Elementary 931
Why We Need to Provide Equal Access to Parks
The southern part of the city has significantly fewer parks, less open space. People move out of the city because of these issues. Many choose never to live here in the first place because of the lack of access to basic services, such as parks, grocery stores, and high quality education. This hurts property values and the reputation of the entire city. Conversely, parks provide numerous physical, social, and economic benefits. They increase health, reduce obesity, increase neighborhood cohesiveness, decrease crime, reduce pollution, reduce flood control costs, raise property values, and thereby raise property tax revenues, which can allow parks to pay for themselves.
Figure 7: Why do we want everyone to have equal access to parks? (8)
Parks Increase Health
– Parks reduce the risk of obesity related diseases, such as heart disease, certain kinds of cancers, depression, eating disorders, and low self-esteem.
– When people have access to parks they exercise more. Creation of or enhanced access to places for physical activity led to a 25.6% increase in the percentage of people exercising one or more days per week. Centers for Disease Control
– Access to a place to exercise results in a 5.1% median increase in aerobic capacity, a reduction in body fat, weight loss, improvements in flexibility, and an increase in perceived energy.
– When people have nowhere to walk they gain weight. Obesity is more likely in unwalkable neighborhoods, but goes down when measures of walkability go up.
-Contact with the natural world improves physical and psychological health. Park-like settings are associated with feelings of peacefulness, tranquility, and relaxation. They decrease fear and anger, and are associated with enhanced mental alertness, attention, and cognitive performance. American Journal of Preventative Medicine
-People living near green spaces report fewer health complaints and have better mental health than others. The study showed the same benefit from living near city parks, agricultural land, forests, and nature areas.
-A 10% increase in nearby green space is found to decrease a person’s health complaints in an amount equivalent to a five year reduction in the person’s age.
Parks Make Economic Sense
-People are consistently willing to pay a larger amount for a property located close to parks and open space areas than for other properties. John L. Crompton, Texas A&M University
-The higher value of homes near parks leads to higher property tax revenues. These additional revenues can be used to pay for the parks.
-Green areas increase property values. A study of the proximity of homes to green spaces in Boulder, Colorado showed that, all other things being equal, homes on the green area had an average value 32% higher than those 3,200 feet away. The green area added $5.4 million in total property values of one neighborhood. The value lead to an additional $500,000 per year in additional property taxes, which paid for the green space in three years.
-50% of survey respondents would be willing to pay 10% more for a home located near a park or other protected green space. National Association of Realtors, 2001
-An 11 % increase in the amount of green space within a radius of 200-500 feet from a house leads to an approximate 1.5% increase in the expected sales price of the house. University of Southern California
-Arts festivals, athletic events, food festivals, and other events held in parks bring positive economic impacts and bring customers to local stores.
Parks Reduce Pollution
-Trees provide pollution abatement and cooling, including oxygen production, pollution control, water recycling, and prevent soil erosion. Trees remove significant amounts of ozone, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide from the air.
-Trees and their roots filter water. Their leaves, trunks, roots, and associated soil remove particulate matter from the water before it reaches storm sewers. They also absorb nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that otherwise pollutes streams and lakes. American Forests
-Trees act as natural air conditioners that keep cities cooler. United States Department of Agriculture
-Trees manage the flow of stormwater runoff more effectively and inexpensively than concrete sewers and drainage ditches. The unpaved areas in parks absorb rainwater and allow it to soak into the ground, instead of into storm sewers.
-Access to public parks and recreational facilities is strongly linked to reductions in crime and in particular to reduced juvenile delinquency. Parks keep at risk youth off the streets, give them a safe environment to interact with their peers, and fill up time within they could otherwise get into trouble.
-Parks increase the cohesion among neighborhood residents. Neighborhoods with strong cohesiveness and shared public space have low rates of violence regardless of socio-demographic composition.
-For small children, playing is learning. It helps kids develop muscle strength, coordination, language, cognitive thinking, reasoning abilities, and cooperation.
-Exercise increases the brain’s capacity for learning. Voluntary running boosts the growth of new nerve cells and improves learning and memory in adult mice. 1999 Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
-Residents of neighborhoods with greenery in common spaces are more likely to enjoy stronger social ties than those who live surrounded by concrete.
-Vegetation and neighborhood social ties are significantly related to residents’ senses of safety and adjustment. University of Illinois and the University of Chicago
So why should we keep the west side district together? If we want to keep our city a desirable place to live we should ensure that the areas surrounding our immediate neighborhood are similarly appealing. We want our children and all residents to have access to healthy activities. We live in a community where we can use all of our strength to be better, to constantly improve our city and provide more opportunities for all of us, but only if we work together. We are one city, one community.
How to Help
Please, share your thoughts at http://www.rccommunityideas.com
Attend, and speak, at a City Council meeting.
Write to your City Council and government:
Mayor L. Dennis Michael- Council@CityofRC.us
Mayor Pro Tem Sam Spagnolo- Council@CityofRC.us
Council Member Bill Alexander- Council@CityofRC.us
Council Member Marc Steinorth- Council@CityofRC.us
Council Member Diane Williams- Council@CityofRC.us
John Gillison, City Manager- John.Gillison@CityofRC.us
Linda Daniels, Assistant City Manager- Linda.Daniels@CityofRC.us
Dean Rodia, Parks and Landscape Maintenance Superintendent- Dean.Rodia@CityofRC.us
Lori Sassoon, Deputy City Manager/Administrative Services- Lori.Sassoon@CityofRC.us
Bill Wittkopf, Public Works Services Director- William.Wittkopf@CityofRC.us
Francie Palmer, Community Services Department Marketing Director- Francie.Palmer@CityofRC.us
1. Rancho Cucamonga, California (CA) income map, earnings map, and wages data. (2009, January 1). Retrieved September 10, 2014, from http://www.city-data.com/income/income-Rancho-Cucamonga-California.html
2. Open Space: A Plan of Open Space and Trails for the County of San Bernardino. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2014, from http://cms.sbcounty.gov/Portals/5/Planning/ZoningOverlaymaps/OpenSpaceText.pdf
3. Welsh, B., & Farrington, D. (2008). Effects of Improved Street Lighting on Crime. Campbell Systematic Reviews,2008(13), 2-2. Retrieved September 10, 2014.
4. Park and Facility Locations. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2014, from http://www.cityofrc.us/cityhall/cs/parks/loc/default.asp
5. Food Access Research Atlas. (2014, May 28). Retrieved September 10, 2014, from http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-access-research-atlas/go-to-the-atlas.aspx#.VAyR-2RdWfg
6. School Ranks, API scores and a Color Coded Map for the city of Rancho Cucamonga, CA. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2014, from http://school-ratings.com/cities/Rancho_Cucamonga.html
7. School Ranks, API scores and a Color Coded Map for the city of Alta Loma, CA. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2014, from http://school-ratings.com/cities/Alta_Loma.html
8. Sherer, P. (2006, January 1). The Benefits of Parks: Why America Needs More City Parks and Open Space. Retrieved September 10, 2014, from http://www.eastshorepark.org/benefits_of_parks tpl.pdf