Grading Methodology

A summary of the grading methodology, including sampling approach, features evaluated, grading system, and scoring system for each feature evaluated at the 40 L.A. parks.

The target grade is an A. B grades indicate that improvements are needed for specific features. A score below 80 (C or D grades) is viewed as unacceptable and significant improvements are required. A minimum score received an F.

The grades were weighted based on the results of the stakeholder questionnaire.

City Council offices selected 15 out of RAP’s 96 community parks for evaluation. The remaining 25 community parks followed a standard stratified sampling procedure.

  • A City Council District was treated as a single stratum if it had fewer than 7 community parks (5 City Council Districts fell into this category).
  • City Council Districts with 7 or more community parks were divided into two strata by the median park acreage in that City Council District. (The remaining 10 City Council Districts fell into this category.)

The stratification yielded a total of 25 sampling strata. RAND then randomly selected one park from each of the 25 strata.

The focus was on maintenance for the report cards. In total, 12 features were evaluated for the 40 L.A. Parks visited:

  • Picnic & Sitting Areas
  • Courts
  • Athletic Fields
  • Playgrounds
  • Natural Areas & Landscaping
  • Restrooms
  • Exercise Area & Trails
  • Drinking Fountains
  • Park Center Interiors, including Gyms
  • Exterior Infrastructure
  • Graffiti
  • Park Cleanliness

Scoring Criterias

Outdoor Courts

Outdoor Courts  were assessed for any extensive cracking of asphalt courts, equipment in good repair, nets/chains in place on basketball hoops, or tennis court nets not torn.

Pool & Water Features

Pool areas were assessed only if they were operational during the visit. We checked on whether the swimming pools were clean and clear, as well as the cleanliness of the pool center, water, and windows. Only 2 parks (Van Nuys-Sherman Oaks and Westwood Parks) had pools that were open during the Saturday visit; they were awarded an additional 3 points for the pools being in excellent condition. Most of the pools are outdoor and have limited operating schedules from July 4th to Labor Day.

Pool & Water Features

Athletic fields were assessed for standing water on grass fields, excessive weed growth and overgrown grass, unevenly graded infields, and bare spots (playing fields no more than 30% exposed dirt). If present, bleachers, team seats, benches, and other seating were assessed to determine if they were in place and in good repair (no broken or missing seats) with adequate paint coverage (no exposed wood).

Athletic Fields

Athletic fields were assessed for standing water on grass fields, excessive weed growth and overgrown grass, unevenly graded infields, and bare spots (playing fields no more than 30% exposed dirt). If present, bleachers, team seats, benches, and other seating were assessed to determine if they were in place and in good repair (no broken or missing seats) with adequate paint coverage (no exposed wood).

Park Center Interiors

Building interiors were assessed for usability and cleanliness.

Natural Areas

For natural areas, we assessed whether there was significant trash or debris on trails or natural areas, signs of illegal dumping or illicit activity, or litter along the edges of water bodies.

Landscaping & Water Conservation

Landscaping and water conservation were assessed by checking the presence of standing water on paths, lawns, or fields. We checked that, if present, pavers were in place and not deteriorating. We assessed whether there were dead trees or empty tree pits, and whether trees were trimmed. We assessed the presence of invasive weeds, vines, overgrown shrubbery, and overgrown grass (maximum length 4”).

Park Cleanliness

For park cleanliness, we assessed the presence of litter, graffiti, or bulk items (e.g., tents, shopping carts, and non-park furniture); signs of dangerous litter, public urination; signs of vermin/rats and other pests; and dog feces. Scores ranged from 60-90.

Children’s Play Areas

Play areas were assessed for the equipment being in good working order. We checked if swings had chains and that there was no chipping paint. The maximum score for a non-universal playground was 95. Having a universal playground designed to serve children who have mobility-related handicaps earned an additional 5 points.

Picnic & Sitting Areas

We assessed: bare spots in lawns, excessive weed growth, or overgrown grass. If present, we assessed the condition of picnic tables, benches, and seating (no broken or missing seats) with adequate paint coverage (no exposed wood).

Drinking Fountains

Drinking fountains are considered an important park amenity and were separated from other maintenance categories. We assessed up to 5 drinking fountains per community park. The minimum score per drinking fountain was 65. If a drinking fountain was not in working order, the minimum score was applied. The overall score is the average of the scores of up to 5 drinking fountains.

Restrooms

Because respondents to KH’s stakeholder questionnaire considered restrooms as one of the most important park features, we elected to pull these facilities out as a completely separate category of maintenance apart from other park facilities. Restrooms that were not accessible and should have been received an automatic minimum score of 65. We assessed cleanliness, the availability of toilet paper and handwashing supplies, and usability for mobility impaired individuals. Given the importance of restrooms on KH’s stakeholder questionnaire, the restroom with the lowest grade was reported.

Building Exteriors

Building exteriors were assessed for peeling paint and flaking plaster. We looked to see if doors were securely mounted without rust or rot and for visibly broken or dislocated roofing materials. Lighting was assessed for any visibly broken lamps or fixtures and for adequacy of coverage. Fences were assessed for tears or gaps. We checked if gates were in place and operable. We looked at parking lots, examining whether there was broken pavement or potholes and whether striping was clear and parking lots had lighting fixtures present.

Exercise Areas

Exercise areas and trails were assessed for the presence and amount of debris on trails or walkways; the condition of exercise equipment and walking paths; and the presence of potential tripping hazards or defects in the surface (e.g., cracks, exposed tree roots, etc.).

Graffiti

We assessed the presence of graffiti and graded it according to whether there was none, isolated, rare instances, graffiti in a few locations, or in many locations and highly salient.