Park Access

How Are We Doing?

Park access received a neutral rating because the number of residents that live within a half mile of a park in the City of San Diego stayed broadly consistent from 2016 to 2017, changing from 78% in 2016 to 77% in 2017. There is a significant range in levels of walkability across the county, with 85% of Del Mar residents living within a 10-minute walk to a park and only 38% of Escondido residents with the same access. Want to know more about what we're measuring?


Neutral from 2017 to 2018

Data source: Trust for Public Land ParkScore, 2018

The Trust for Public Land's ParkScore® Index measures how well the 100 largest U.S. cities are meeting the need for parks. In the San Diego region, the index captures data for the City of San Diego and the City of Chula Vista. Chula Vista has 8 park acres per 1,000 residents, compared to San Diego, which has 34. Additionally, only 56% of Chula Vista residents have walkable access to parks compared to 77% of San Diego residents.

The City of San Diego has the largest amount of park acres per resident compared to other major urban centers statewide. The Mission Trails Regional Park, with over 7,000 acres, is one of the largest urban parks in the United States and makes up a significant proportion of parkland in the City of San Diego.

Why is it Important?

  • As reported in The San Diego Foundation's Parks for Everyone Report, San Diego County has more than 45% green space but not all San Diegans have equal access to nature. The majority of the region’s park-poor communities are also the most ethnically diverse and low-income areas in San Diego. These park-poor communities are also home to the highest concentrations of overweight and obese children.
  • Parks not only provide healthy outdoor recreational space for children but also generate economic activity. A report by the National Recreation and Park Association found America's local public park and recreation agencies generated more than $154 billion in economic activity and generated 1.1 million jobs.

Data Source: Trust for Public Land, ParkServe 2018 

The cities of Del Mar and San Diego have the highest percentage of people that live within a 10-minute walk to a park, at 85% and 79% respectively. In contrast, the cities of El Cajon and Escondido have the lowest walkability levels at 45% and 38% respectively.

Regional Response


As part of its national Thrive Outside Community Initiative, the Outdoor Foundation has awarded a multi-year grant of $410,000 to The San Diego Foundation and a network of regional partners (including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, County of San Diego Parks & Recreation Department, Outdoor Outreach, YMCA of San Diego County, and The Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego) to support capacity building that will strengthen local partnerships, as well as create recurring and reinforcing positive outdoor experiences for youth and families. The goal of the initiative is to make the outdoors part of the fabric of the lives of children and families in the San Diego region, especially South County where, according to the Center on Policy Initiatives, one in seven residents lived in poverty in 2015 and had limitations to accessing the outdoors.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the SoCal Urban Wildlife Refuge Project with the goal to engage surrounding urban communities as partners in wildlife conservation. Focusing efforts on urban refugees (a National Wildlife Refuge located within 25 miles of a population of 250,000 or more), the program brings nature to communities, where they live, work and play and builds shared values for wildlife conservation among community members.

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. Learn more about the data.