Irvine ranks among the top 10 cities in the nation when it comes to parks, placing far 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 — down from seventh one year ago. The rankings are based on factors including proximity of parks 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%. 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 overall area for parks, topping the national average of 10%, and spends $185 per resident on parks.
Long Beach was the next highest-ranked Southern California city on the trust’s list, at 41, down 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 area is reserved for parks, and it spends $147 per resident on parks.
Anaheim placed 64th on the list, followed by Riverside at 75th, Los Angeles at 78th and Santa Ana at 95th.
“Investing in natural solutions like trails, shade, and green spaces can cool temperatures by up to six degrees and help prevent flooding,” Diane Regas, president and CEO of the Trust for Public Land, said in a statement.
“That’s why Trust for Public Land is working with park advocates and municipal leaders across the United States to close the outdoor equity gap and ensure that quality parks are available to everyone. Parks inspire joy and happiness and help cities meet the climate crisis.”
The only other California city in the top 10 was San Francisco, which placed seventh.
Washington, D.C., was the highest-ranked city on the list, followed by St. Paul, Minnesota; Arlington, Virginia; Cincinnati; and Minneapolis.
According to the report’s authors, park spending per resident dipped in most Southern California cities in the past year. The trust called on governments at all levels to boost park spending, specifically calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to add $800 million for park funding in his May budget revision.
“We must address California’s huge park equity gaps and ensure that all Californians have access to quality parks and open space,” Guillermo Rodriguez, state director of Trust for Public Land, said in a statement.
“Governor Newsom and the Legislature have a unique opportunity to use $800 million from the state’s multi-billion budget surplus to help our cities close the park equity gap this year.”
The report noted that across the nation, neighborhoods where the majority of residents identified as people of color have access to an average of 43% less park space than predominantly white neighborhoods. Low-income neighborhoods have 42% park space than high-income areas, according to the report.