As the City struggles to find funds to provide safe and welcoming parks and recreation facilities, City Controller Wendy Greuel found that the Department of Recreation and Parks has spent more than $2 million in public dollars to operate three campgrounds which have been closed to the public for over ten years. These findings are a result of a waste, fraud and abuse investigation, following a complaint received through the Controller’s Fraud, Waste and Abuse hotline.
“At a time when the City’s budget situation has limited the services that the Department of Recreation and Parks provides, I urge City leaders to decide if maintaining these shuttered, unused campgrounds are a priority,” said City Controller Greuel. “Without a plan in place, wasting more than $2 million on campgrounds that no resident can use is unacceptable.”
The Controller’s investigation revealed that:
·While Camps Valcrest and Radford have been closed to the public for 20 and 13 years, respectively, the City has paid $2 million for caretakers to live at the camps.
·The City has paid nearly $100,000 for water to be trucked up to Camp Valcrest.
·The Wildlands Conservancy offered to pay $616,000 to cover repairs at Camp Valcrest; however, the Department failed to meet the contingency demands, so two years later the Conservancy withdrew their offer.
The Department maintains that it cannot open and operate the parks until all repairs needed are completed. Though there is a plan to reopen Camp Radford, there is currently no timeline to do so due to lack of identified funding.
Greuel also found that the Department paid more than $217,000 for the purchase and installation of a mobile home at Decker Canyon Camp. The Department never obtained the proper permits for installation and realized after the purchase that the road to the camp was unable to accommodate the mobile home for installation. Instead of discontinuing monthly lease payments during the 3-year term based on the failure to obtain permits, the Department had to store and ultimately demolish the mobile home after 10 years because it had deteriorated so badly.
“This is another example of a department that did not keep a close watch over each and every expenditure. The City cannot afford to continue on with a ‘business as usual’ attitude and must ask the difficult questions to allocate the City’s resources most effectively,” said Greuel.
Controller Greuel has conducted more than 60 audits and uncovered more than $130 million that the City has lost to wasteful spending, fraudulent activity, and abuse of city resources over the last three years.
For more information, log on to the Website of Los Angeles Controller Wendy Greuel: http://controller. lacity.org.
To report Waste, Fraud or Abuse, please contact the Controller’s hotline at 866-428-1514.
A copy of Controller Greuel’s letter to the Department of Recreation and Parks is attached.