Land Use

Park Access

Neutral from
2014 to 2015

How are we doing?

Park access received a neutral rating because the number of residents living within a half mile of a park remained at 77% in San Diego and 52% in Chula Vista. San Diego is rich with parkland with most of the county containing more than three acres of parkland per 1,000 residents, however, areas such as Lemon Grove, La Mesa, Vista and El Cajon, which have a lower median income, also have fewer parks per resident. Unfortunately, park acreage and access is not reported for all San Diego County cities in the Trust for Public Land’s annual Park Score survey. See more information.

Chula Vista residents not only have a low amount of park acres per resident but also have more limited park access. Although the city of San Diego has the largest amount of park acres per resident compared to other major urban cities, San Francisco has more walkable park access.

Data Source: Trust for Public Land, 2016 City Park Facts, 2016

Why is it important?

  • While San Diego County has ample green space, many low-income, ethnically diverse communities have limited access to parks and open spaces. Health research suggests there is an association between high childhood obesity rates and low park access. Full report here.

Park Access

San Diego County (2017)

City Boundaries
SB 535 Disadvantaged Community Census Tracts
AB 1550 Low Income Census Tracts
Available Parkland: Less than 3 acres parkland per 1,000 residents
Available Parkland: More than 3 acres parkland per 1,000 residents

The map shows areas where residents have less than three acres of parkland per 1,000 residents (yellow) overlaid with areas that are considered low-income* (brown) and disadvantaged* (red). Most of the county contains more than three acres of parkland per 1,000 residents, however, communities near cities like Lemon Grove, Vista and El Cajon have less parkland per resident and contain more low-income communities.

*Low-income communities are at or below 80% of the California’s median income or fall below the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD) low income threshold. Census tracts are classified as disadvantaged communities based on their population’s exposure and vulnerability to pollution, among other factors. Classification uses the multi-criteria CalEnviroScreen. More information is available on the California Air Resources Board's Cap-and-Trade Auction Proceeds Funding Guidelines for Administering Agencies page.

Data Sources: SanGIS/SANDAG 2017; 2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, 2017

  Idea for Change

Policymakers should explore the formation and potential passage of new park bonds in the San Diego region, countywide or for individual municipalities, which would increase access to parks and open spaces for residents in underserved communities.

  Bright Spot

The San Diego Foundation’s Opening the Outdoors Program and GreenInfoNetwork just released the Get Outside San Diego web app that allows San Diegans to find any of the 1,100 parks in the county. The searchable site connects youth, families and residents to every park in the county, allowing them to choose parks by recreation type (hiking, beaches, fishing, ball parks, etc.), get directions to park entries, download printable maps and see park information. Learn more.

  What are we measuring?

We measure land use by tracking the percent of people who live within a half mile of a park and the number of acres of accessible park space per 1,000 people in various California cities. We also map San Diego County, distinguishing areas with less than three acres of parkland per 1,000 residents in comparison to areas with a median annual income of less than $60,000. Learn more about the data.