Park Access

Park Acres Per Resident

Improved less than 1 percent from
2015 to 2016

How are we doing?

Park access received a thumbs-up because 78% of residents live within a half mile of a park in the city of San Diego, increasing slightly from 2015 to 2016. San Diego County 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. See more information.

Data Source: Trust for Public Land, 2017 City Park Facts, 2017

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

The City of San Diego increased its percentage of residents living within a half mile of a park from 77.7% to 78% in 2016 due to more available park acres. Chula Vista decreased their park acres per resident from 2015 to 2016 and has less park access than the City of San Diego. Although the City of San Diego has the largest amount of park acres per resident compared to other major urban centers statewide, cities such as San Francisco have more walkable park access. Unfortunately, park acreage and access is not reported for all cities in San Diego County in The Trust for Public Land’s annual ParkScore survey.

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.
  • Looking to get outside but not sure where to start? Check out the GreenInfo Network’s Get Outside San Diego web app that helps San Diegans quickly locate any of the 1,100 parks in the county. You can choose parks by recreation type, get directions, download maps and see detailed park information.

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

This 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 shade) and disadvantaged* (red border). 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 California’s median income or fall below the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD’s) low-income threshold. Census tracts are classified as disadvantaged communities based on their population’s exposure and vulnerability to pollution, among other factors, as determined by the mapping tool 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 2018; 2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, 2017

  Idea for Change

Proposition 68 is a bond measure which would raise $4 billion for resource conservation, parks and recreation, and improved water quality. Proponents of the measure argue that it would direct money to underserved areas, and augment the limited budgets of local Parks departments. Prop 68 offers voters the opportunity to directly influence state spending on environmental issues. Greater publication participation will help inform decision-makers, and leverage government resources in optimal ways.

  Bright Spot

Outdoor Outreach is a nonprofit in the San Diego region working to provide underserved youth with access to outdoor educational experiences. They are working with land management partners including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California State Parks and the county and city of San Diego to impart to teens the value of parks, beaches and open space areas. In 2017, the organization conducted more than 400 outdoor educational outings for 1,700-plus youth. Program graduates gain access to a lending library of outdoor gear to help them continue their outdoor adventures with friends and family.

  What are we measuring?

We measure park access by tracking the percentage 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 local cities. We also map areas in San Diego County with less than three acres of parkland per 1,000 residents in comparison to areas with low median annual incomes. Learn more about the data.