San Francisco is first U.S. city where all residents live within a 10-minute walk to a park

May 16, 2017
San Francisco, Calif

Mayor Edwin M. Lee and The Trust for Public Land today announced today that San Francisco is the first and only city in the United States where all residents have access to a park within a 10-minute walk. The findings were part of the Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore, an assessment of the park systems of the nation’s 100 largest cities.

“In San Francisco, we want everyone to enjoy the prosperity of this city, which is why it is particularly meaningful that we have a parks system that is accessible and enjoyable for all of our residents,” said Mayor Lee. “We are proud to be the first city in the nation to have a least one open space within a 10 minute walk of every resident. We are maintaining our record investment into our local parks so that all San Franciscans can continue to enjoy our wonderful natural environment.”

“Most city residents won’t walk more than 10 minutes to get to shopping, transit, or parks, so close-to-home access to parks is vital for public health, clean environments, and thriving, equitable communities,” said Adrian Benepe, The Trust for Public Land’s Urban Parks Director. “This is an enormous achievement, based on years of dedicated and thoughtful work and planning, and San Francisco should be very proud.”

During Mayor Lee’s tenure, San Francisco has invested $355 million in parks and open space. For his upcoming two-year budget, he has proposed $84.4 million in capital projects for the Recreation and Park Department, maintaining record levels of investment in the city’s parks and open spaces. The $84 million investment in capital projects is an 81 percent increase from 2015.

The announcement was at the newly renovated Hilltop Park, which has a state-of-the-art skate park and playground. To get to the park, Mayor Lee, Benepe, and Recreation and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg took a 10-minute walk with children from the nearby Family & Children Empowerment Services child care center.

A 10-minute walk, or a distance of one-half mile, is the standard for urban park systems. Though walking speeds vary, the U.S. Department of Transportation agrees most people can walk a half-mile in about 10 minutes. Park planners use sophisticated technology and data to measure the 10-minute walk and have concluded that everyone should be able to reach a park in that time, no matter what kind of neighborhood they live in.

To achieve the 10-minute goal, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department has been maximizing the recreational use of park land as well as acquiring new land to develop into parks. The $355 million invested under Mayor Lee includes $280 million in parks bonds, $15 million in open space acquisition funds, and more than $60 million in grants and gifts. In the past 15 years, the City has spent over $1.1 billion on various park improvements.

In recent years, San Francisco has added the Golden Gate Park CommUNITY Garden, Interior Greenbelt, Geneva Community Garden, Noe Valley Town Square, 17th and Folsom Streets Park, Francisco Reservoir, and India Basin, to the list of new parks.

“Our goal is to have clean, safe parks accessible to all San Franciscans,” said Ginsburg. “We are thrilled to see our efforts recognized and grateful to Mayor Lee for his unwavering support and firm belief in the importance of open space.”

The Recreation and Park Department works to address open space needs, bringing expertise and perspective to emerging open space projects, and working to advise on open space needs. As a result, parks such as the SOMA West Skate and Dog Park, Tunnel Top Park, Progress Park, Playland at 43rd Ave, and others have become neighborhood parks.