Irvine leads Southern California cities in access to parks

Irvine ranks among the top 10 cities in the nation for parks, ranking well above other Southern California municipalities in an annual survey released Tuesday by the Trust for Public Land.

Irvine ranked eighth on the trust’s list – up from seventh a year ago. Rankings are based on factors such as parks’ proximity to residents, land reserved for parks, and park spending per resident.

According to the report, 89% of Irvine residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, well above the national average of 75%. The researchers credited a city agreement with the Irvine Unified School District to open campus playgrounds for public use after hours and on weekends.

Meanwhile, Irvine reserves 37.4% of its total area for parks, surpassing the national average of 10%, and spends $185 per capita on parks.

Long Beach was Southern California’s second-highest ranked city on the trust’s list, at 41, up from 31st a year ago. According to the report, 84% of Long Beach residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, while 10.1% of the city’s land area is designated for parks and it spends $147 per capita on the parks.

Anaheim ranked 64th on the list, followed by Riverside at 75th, Los Angeles at 78th, and Santa Ana at 95th.

“Investing in natural solutions like pathways, shade and green space can cool temperatures by up to six degrees and help prevent flooding,” said Diane Regas, president and CEO of the Trust for Public Land. , in a press release.

“That’s why Trust for Public Land is working with park advocates and city leaders across the United States to close the outdoor equity gap and ensure quality parks are accessible to everyone. Parks inspire joy and happiness and help cities deal with the climate crisis.

The only other California city in the top 10 was San Francisco, which placed seventh.

Washington, DC, was the highest ranked city on the list, followed by St. Paul, Minnesota; Arlington, Virginia; Cincinnati; and Minneapolis.

Per capita spending on parks has fallen in most Southern California cities over the past year, according to the report’s authors. The trust called on governments at all levels to increase spending on the park, specifically calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to add $800 million for park funding in his May budget review.

“We must close the huge equity gaps in California’s parks and ensure that all Californians have access to quality parks and open spaces,” said Guillermo Rodriguez, state director of Trust for Public Land, in a press release.

“Governor Newsom and the Legislature have a unique opportunity to use $800 million of the state’s multi-billion dollar budget surplus to help our cities close the park equity gap this year.”

The report noted that across the country, neighborhoods where the majority of residents identify as people of color have access to an average of 43% less park space than predominantly white neighborhoods. According to the report, low-income neighborhoods have 42% more parking spaces than high-income areas.

Bernard P. Love