“We do a good job in promoting special events, but a lot of people don’t know how to access the parks or how to file complaints. And we have a department that believes if there are no complaints, everything must be OK.” Mukri, who took over as general manager less than two years ago, said he didn’t dispute the findings and is determining how to undertake a needs assessment. “We have hired a consultant to help us develop a template we can use to assess what we have and what we need,” Mukri said. “Part of what she’s pointing out is the changing demographics of the city and how we need to respond to that.” The department currently operates 390 parks, 372 children’s play areas, 306 sports fields, 287 tennis courts, 176 recreation centers, 59 swimming pools, 30 senior centers, 24 child-care centers, 13 golf courses, nine dog parks, seven museums and two beaches. Mukri said he also agrees with Chick that a more centralized operation is needed, but said a high staff turnover rate has come amid years of hiring freezes. “We have a 25 percent vacancy rate in some areas and we need to develop a cadre of professional parks people,” said Mukri, who added that he has asked Chick to help set priorities for the department. Chick’s final audit of the department – reviewing facility maintenance – is scheduled to be released next week. Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390 [email protected] RECREATION AND PARKS AUDIT Here are key recommendations of City Controller Laura Chick: Conduct an updated needs assessment of recreation services. Review services to ensure equity around the city. Provide employees with more community-outreach training. Address safety concerns in parks. Maximize joint-use agreements with the Los Angeles Unified School District. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The agency that runs hundreds of Los Angeles parks and recreation centers needs to review its programs to determine if they’re what the public actually wants, City Controller Laura Chick said in an audit released Thursday. “It’s somewhat embarrassing to say I went in here to try to look at how we are doing and I can’t say that we know,” Chick said in releasing the second of three audits of the City Recreation and Parks Department. “There hasn’t been a needs assessment done in more than six years, and what we do see is a great disparity in services throughout the city. “There are some areas where the parks are widely used and have a great deal of public support, and there are others that are almost ignored,” she said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson The audit comes two months after Chick reviewed the department’s finances and found it charged inconsistent fees and was holding $21.5 million in a fund for unclear reasons. Chick said the department’s current general manager, Jon Kirk Mukri, inherited many of the problems but that some improvements can be made immediately, such as developing a citywide approach to park services and reassessing neighborhoods’ needs. “I don’t think this is something that can be left to individual City Council districts because we need a citywide approach,” Chick said. “Council members can play an important role in advising the department on what their needs are.” Chick’s audit also noted a vast disparity in services across the city, with poorer and more densely populated areas having fewer facilities and programs. “We also find the department is doing a poor job in outreach – in explaining to people what programs are available all the time,” Chick said.