On May 17, 2022, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion to approve the allocation of $28,250,000 for the Puente Hills County Regional Park Development Project.
The goal is to restore and repurpose a 1200-acre closed landfill into a beautiful new public amenity. That landfill has blighted and fouled the air of a low-income neighborhood for half a century, making this regenerative project a major win for environmental justice. As the T-shirt says, “What we restore, restore us. The places we revitalize, revitalize us.”
Back in 1970, the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts purchased over 1200 acres of land in the Puente Hills canyons of the San Gabriel Valley to create a new, regional landfill known today as the Puente Hills Landfill.
Under conditions laid out in a 1987 Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) entered into by the Sanitation Districts and Los Angeles County, and under Assembly Bill 2632, authored by then-Assemblymember Hilda L. Solis, the Sanitation Districts were required to provide portions of the site to the County for park and recreation purposes after the landfill ceased operations.
“Today marks a special moment in our fight for environmental justice,” said now-County Supervisor Solis.
“Having grown up in La Puente, I can still remember the smells that the landfill emitted throughout my family’s neighborhood. It has been 6 years since the Puente Hills Landfill Park Master Plan was completed, and 9 years since the landfill closed. Our communities have waited far too long for this park. Today is the day we make it a reality,” she added.
Following the settlement of recent litigation between the Sanitation Districts and Los Angeles County, the County’s Department of Parks and Recreation secured $80 million in funding and is now beginning the design phase for the Puente Hills Regional Park.
In October of 2021, after extensive negotiations, the County’s Department of Parks and Recreation reached an agreement with the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGV COG) and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) on the sale of 9.13 acres of Diamond Bar Golf Course for the purpose of acquiring right of way to implement the SR-57/60 Confluence Project.
In accordance with the Park Preservation Act (PPA), Public Resources Code sections 5400 through 5409, the Department of Parks and Recreation, on behalf of the public interest, received compensation for $28,250,000 for the purpose of acquiring and improving substitute parkland and facilities of similar size, comparable characteristics, and similar location to provide public parks access to the impacted communities.
After conducting an extensive land inventory and acquisition process for replacement parkland, the SGV COG and Metro were unable to secure replaceable parkland to meet the PPA requirements. Therefore, the Department of Parks and Recreation recommended that the $28,250,000 be used to support the development of the future Puente Hills Regional Park at the former Puente Hills Landfill, which will serve a similar purpose and role as the lost acreage of Diamond Bar Golf Course.
The future Puente Hills Regional Park will serve a 25-mile regional area, including adjacent communities in the East San Gabriel Valley. Once completed, the future regional park will provide 142-acres of new parkland that will provide diverse, healthy, passive, and active recreational experiences and programming.
It will be the County’s first new regional park in more than 35 years, offering a rare and significant opportunity for new parkland in the eastern portion of Los Angeles County.
“It is good to finally see the County receive the funding it was entitled to under the Parks Preservation Act,” said co-author Janice Hahn, Supervisor for the Fourth District.
“We do not have to choose between park space and improving our freeways. The important SR-57/SR-60 freeway project is moving forward, and we have secured the funding we need for the Puente Hill Regional Park. These communities have had to deal with a landfill in their backyard for decades. Now, this new funding gets us one step closer to transforming the Puente Hills landfill into a beautiful park that the entire region can enjoy,” she added.
The motion approved today approves the allocation of the $28,250,000 for the Puente Hills County Regional Park Development Project and finds that the allocation meets the requirements of the PPA in serving a similar purpose and role as the lost acreage of the Diamond Bar Golf Course.
Photo courtesy of Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.