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San Diego parks fall in ratings

19 percent of city land set aside, but how do you get to it?

Admiral Baker Park – cut off from Grantville by Friars Road
Admiral Baker Park – cut off from Grantville by Friars Road

San Diego's vast park system has fallen from a top spot in a national ranking study due to a new factor used in 2021: equity.

Every year since 2009, the Trust for Public Land has been geeking out about the nation's largest city park systems, even nailing down the location of park entrances and physical obstacles to access, such as roads and rivers.

The goal is "to ensure there's a park within a 10-minute walk of home" for everyone in America.

Besides equity and access, the report looks at investment, amenities, and acreage in its ParkScore Index.

Inspired by "the national awakening" on racial and economic disparity, the new equity measures compare neighborhoods of color vs. white neighborhoods and low-income vs. high income neighborhoods, considering per capita park space and 10-minute-walk park access.

To obtain a high score, like Washington, D.C. or St. Paul, Minnesota, disparities must be low or non-existent.

San Diego, with its 538 parks, often lands within the top 20. Now it's #27. The city scored highly on acreage, which is based on a city’s median park size, as well as access. For a majority of residents, a park is at most a 10-minute walk from home.

But that still leaves 257,640 residents who don't have the same opportunity.

Green - existing parks. Purple - where parks most needed

In San Diego neighborhoods where most people identify as people of color, residents have access to 73 percent less park space than in mostly white neighborhoods (49 percent less in Chula Vista, which was 81st in the rankings).

Those in San Diego's low-income neighborhoods have access to 86 percent less park space than those in high-income neighborhoods.

From home to park, distance alone doesn't tell the whole story. So the rating system evaluates access by studying how easy it is to reach the park.

Does a highway block the path, turning a short stroll into a roundabout car trip? Unless there's a pedestrian bridge or other feature to allow crossing, that park isn't counted as accessible to area residents.

In San Diego, for example, there's Cedar Ridge Park, separated from Gateway/Fairmount Park by I-15. Another is Admiral Baker Park & Elanus Canyon, which are cut off from Grantville by Friars Road.

City parks didn't score highly on amenities like dog parks, either, having only 1.2 per 100,000 people. Boise, Idaho, by contrast, has 6.3 per 100,000 residents.

However, San Diego has reserved 19 percent of its city area for parks, more than double the national ParkScore average.

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Admiral Baker Park – cut off from Grantville by Friars Road
Admiral Baker Park – cut off from Grantville by Friars Road

San Diego's vast park system has fallen from a top spot in a national ranking study due to a new factor used in 2021: equity.

Every year since 2009, the Trust for Public Land has been geeking out about the nation's largest city park systems, even nailing down the location of park entrances and physical obstacles to access, such as roads and rivers.

The goal is "to ensure there's a park within a 10-minute walk of home" for everyone in America.

Besides equity and access, the report looks at investment, amenities, and acreage in its ParkScore Index.

Inspired by "the national awakening" on racial and economic disparity, the new equity measures compare neighborhoods of color vs. white neighborhoods and low-income vs. high income neighborhoods, considering per capita park space and 10-minute-walk park access.

To obtain a high score, like Washington, D.C. or St. Paul, Minnesota, disparities must be low or non-existent.

San Diego, with its 538 parks, often lands within the top 20. Now it's #27. The city scored highly on acreage, which is based on a city’s median park size, as well as access. For a majority of residents, a park is at most a 10-minute walk from home.

But that still leaves 257,640 residents who don't have the same opportunity.

Green - existing parks. Purple - where parks most needed

In San Diego neighborhoods where most people identify as people of color, residents have access to 73 percent less park space than in mostly white neighborhoods (49 percent less in Chula Vista, which was 81st in the rankings).

Those in San Diego's low-income neighborhoods have access to 86 percent less park space than those in high-income neighborhoods.

From home to park, distance alone doesn't tell the whole story. So the rating system evaluates access by studying how easy it is to reach the park.

Does a highway block the path, turning a short stroll into a roundabout car trip? Unless there's a pedestrian bridge or other feature to allow crossing, that park isn't counted as accessible to area residents.

In San Diego, for example, there's Cedar Ridge Park, separated from Gateway/Fairmount Park by I-15. Another is Admiral Baker Park & Elanus Canyon, which are cut off from Grantville by Friars Road.

City parks didn't score highly on amenities like dog parks, either, having only 1.2 per 100,000 people. Boise, Idaho, by contrast, has 6.3 per 100,000 residents.

However, San Diego has reserved 19 percent of its city area for parks, more than double the national ParkScore average.

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Comments
2

What happened to when "parks" by the cities & Sandag were classified as "open space" ? When "open space" was debated for, so to save from "developers" and home construction. This all being before wastewater was thought of, for the use of irrigation for parks, so to conserve the upcoming shortage of water.

June 2, 2021

Just enjoy the parks. Overanalyzing the situation is annoying.

June 2, 2021

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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