Wednesday, August 08, 2012


The Associated Press, from the Sacramento Bee AP State Wire News |

Last Modified: Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012 - 9:18 am  ::  LOS ANGELES -- A plan to close 47 Los Angeles public swimming pools on Monday may get a reprieve.

The closures were timed with the Aug. 14 start of school for students in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The Los Angeles Daily News ( - FILLOWS) says protests from community groups have persuaded city parks officials to find a way to keep the pools open until Labor Day.

The flap comes as Southern California swelters in a heat wave with temperatures soaring into the 100s.

Recreation and Parks executive director Regina Adams says officials are working to keep the pools open, but she concedes it's unclear where the money will come from.

City pools have been closed for years when school district classes begin and pool attendance drops.


L.A.'s plan to close pools Monday meets with protests

By Dakota Smith, Staff Writer, LA Daily News |

Sebastian Chavez stands under a downpour of water while enjoying recreational swim hours at the Van Nuys Sherman Oaks Aquatic Center on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012. Temperatures soared into the triple digits across much of the San Fernando Valley as a heat wave continues to impact the region. (Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer)

Charlotte and Urban Hilding enjoy time in the pool with their daughters Elsa, Hannah and Linnea at the Van Nuys Sherman Oaks Aquatic Center Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012. Temperatures soared into the triple digits across much of the San Fernando Valley as a heat wave continues to impact the region. (Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer)

Updated:   08/07/2012 10:19:46 PM PDT  ::  As temperatures are rising, so is anger over a city plan to shut 47 public pools next week.

Most of the city's public pools will close Monday under a move to save money timed to the start of the Los Angeles Unified School District calendar on Aug. 14.

But amid backlash from community groups, and hand-wringing from politicians, city parks officials Tuesday agreed to search for a way to keep the pools open until Labor Day. | See photo gallery.

"We are committed to trying to make this happen," said Regina Adams, executive director of the Department of Recreation and Parks.

She was unable to elaborate on where the department would find the funds to keep the pools in operation.

The dust-up over the pools reflects the latest tension between those wanting to continue popular city programs, and department heads who say they no longer have the funds to allow such offerings. The closures also highlight the City Council's habit of cutting key city services, only to question those budget cuts down the road.

The Department of Recreation and Parks has for years closed pools when LAUSD begins classes. Regardless of the temperatures, attendance at city pools drops significantly when the school year starts, park officials say. Three of the 47 used to be year-round pools that were changed to seasonal for budgetary reasons and scheduled for early closure next week, including Hubert Humphrey pool in Pacoima. An emergency meeting Monday night at the pool drew a standing room only crowd, said Edwin Ramirez, board member of the Pacoima Neighborhood Council.

The pool, he said, has greatly improved the area, drawing not only kids and swimmers, but polo teams. Gang members who used to hang out in the nearby park now volunteer at the pool. The city's 13 other year-round pools are expected to remain open.

Staffing the pools is the biggest issue for the Department of Recreation and Parks, which has seen 100 personnel laid off in the last three years. Also, some staff working on the pools are forced to take 26 furlough days, which cuts into their ability to do maintenance.

City Council members Tuesday also appeared caught off-guard by news of the early closures. The City Council didn't vote on the date of the pool closures, but had drastically cut hours at three pools, including the Pacoima one, under this year's budget.

"This really hurts me because kids aren't going to be able to have an experience, and it's warm in Los Angeles until October," said City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who suggested an emergency motion to keep the pools open.

Equally upset was City Councilman Richard Alarcón, who accused parks staff of failing to adequately explain the department's budget cuts. But others took a more level-headed view.

"Well, we are having 100 degree days, but we need to stay within the budget," said Nancy Sweeney, president of Revitalize Reseda, a neighborhood improvement group.

The pool in Reseda will stay open until Aug. 19, a concession that was allowed because of the pool's late open date this year.

"We can't blame (Recreation and Parks) for being fiscally responsible," Sweeney added, "considering the state of the city."

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