FREE LOTS ANGELES: Transforming Vacant Lots into Neighborhood Assets

submission by FreeLotsAngeles

About Your Application

Organization(s) name(s):

Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust (LANLT), Leadership for Urban Renewal (LURN), TRUST South LA, Konkuey Design Initiative (KDI), Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, Community Health Councils (CHC)

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Organization(s) twitter handle(s):

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Describe Your Organization(s)

Non-profit organization

For-profit organization


Other (please specify below):

In one sentence, please describe what your organization does.


The LA Neighborhood Land Trust partners with LA’s communities of color to develop, build, and operate safe parks and community gardens while organizing to advocate for local policies that support health and equity. LANLT will serve as lead applicant.

In one to three sentences, please describe your proposal.


Free Lots Angeles (FLA), a project of six organizations, works with communities to transform vacant lots into health-promoting neighborhood resources such as community gardens, parks, and mobility hubs. FLA organizes “pop-ups” on vacant lots and helps change City policy to allow for Angelenos to access city-owned vacant land in their neighborhoods, especially in places where there are not enough places to PLAY.

Where will you be working? Please be specific (e.g. Third Street Middle School; Boyle Heights; LA County).

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA


South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles (countywide)

City of Los Angeles (citywide)


Other (please specify below):

How do you plan to use these resources to make change? (check all that apply)

Conduct research

Engage residents and stakeholders

Implement a pilot or new project

Expand a pilot or program

Mobilize for systems change

Advocate with policymakers and leaders

Implement and track policy

Other (please specify below):

How will your proposal improve the following “Play” metrics? (check all that apply)

Access to open space and park facilities

Number of children enrolled in afterschool programs

Per capita crime rates

Percentage of residents that feel safe in their neighborhoods

Attendance at major league sporting events

Residents within 1⁄4 mile of a park (Dream Metric)

Number of residents with easy access to a “vibrant” park (Dream Metric)

Number of parks with intergenerational play opportunities (Dream Metric)

Number (and quality) of informal spaces for play (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to play.


LA is one of the most active cities in the world, but also home to thousands of vacant lots which are lost opportunities to promote healthy and safe PLAY in park-poor communities. These lots often attract trash and crime, and sometimes even negatively impact the vibrancy of the surrounding area. Free Lots Angeles (FLA) flips the script on vacant lots being a problem into a solution. By transforming vacant land into vibrant neighborhood destinations we’re assisting communities in creating long term realities for health and wellness. With a model that we’ve already piloted four times, community expertise, and strong relationships we’re confident that with your help we can make LA a better place to PLAY for everyone.

To accomplish this, FLA will organize pop-ups on vacant lots in low-income “play-deserts” of LA. These one-day events are the culmination of many hours of community organizing around a target vacant lot. Neighbors come together to identify vacant lots, discuss challenges, and with the help of designers, generate ideas to improve the lot. While these workshops are focused on producing a one-day event, data gathered creates a jumpstart to the development of permanent, community-serving transformation.

However, FLA won’t stop there. We know first hand that to make real impact on the lack of play for some neighborhoods, systems and policies need to be changed and we’ve got just the road map to get LA there. There are approximately 2300 vacant lots owned by the City of LA totalling the size of 4,550 football fields. That’s a lot of lost PLAY! This is an estimate that members of our coalition have painfully stitched together across many outdated and inaccessible sources. Needless to say, understanding the process for transforming a lot is sometimes even more difficult for residents. In response, FLA is developing an advocacy campaign to create new systems within the City to publicize city-owned vacant lots and create a simple process that can be used by everyone to get access to city-owned vacant land for the development of healthy places like parks, gardens, and mobility hubs. These tools will help Angelenos not only identify city-owned lots in their community, but also transform them. That means more play for everyone.

Along with your support, FLA’s dynamic coalition of six partners and it’s strong relationships with communities, Councilmembers, and the Mayor is primed to make big impact on PLAY.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.


Free Lots Angeles will evaluate its effectiveness in the following ways:

1) The successful production of three pop-up events on vacant lots in low-income areas of the City;
2) The introduction and institutionalization of City policy that will aggregate all City-owned vacant lots into one publicly-accessible database; and
3) The development of a standard right of entry permit and/or lease agreements that could be used by community members to activate a vacant lot.

These goals are monitored by weekly meetings with program staff from each of the Free Lots Angeles partner organizations as well as separate senior-level meetings that take place every month with Executive Directors. These meetings help cultivate strong communication between each organization and also help maintain accountability on agreed upon goals.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed? (check all that apply)

Money (financial capital)

Volunteers/staff (human capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)


Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support

Quality improvement research

Other (please specify below):

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Submission Began
Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Submission Ended
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
at 07:00 PM UTC

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Voting Began
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Voting Ended
Tuesday, November 03, 2015
at 08:00 PM UTC

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A shady oasis for everyone in Grand Park
A shady oasis for everyone in Grand Park

Winner Announced
Tuesday, December 08, 2015