Long Beach ranks 61st among large city park systems, report says

The Trust for Public Land ranked the top 100 biggest cities in the U.S. based on park accessibility, investment and how much land each city dedicates to park space.

Long Beach ranks 61st among large city park systems, report says
Stearns Champions Park in East Long Beach is one of 169 parks in the city. Photo by Jason Ruiz

When it comes to park accessibility, investment and equity, Long Beach is among the top 100 large cities in the country but its ranking continues to slide, according to an annual report released this week.

The report released Wednesday by the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit that advocates for access to nature and the outdoors, looked at per capita spending on parks, how much city land is dedicated to park space and the number of residents who live near a park.

This year’s ParkScore rating has Washington D.C. at the top of the list followed by Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Irvine, California’s highest-rated city, was fourth on the list. Los Angeles was ranked 88th in this year’s report.

Long Beach scored highest for access, with 83% of residents living within a 10 minute walk to a park, according to the report. However, access was not equal across all neighborhoods.

The report showed that neighborhoods predominantly made up of Asian, Black, Hispanic and Pacific Islander residents were served by smaller parks than the median-sized park in Long Beach. Predominantly White neighborhoods have access to 448% more park space than the median in the city, according to the report.

Park access disparities were consistent across income levels, according to the report, which showed that low-income neighborhoods have access to 64% less park space than the average Long Beach resident. Meanwhile, high-income neighborhoods have access to 250% more green space than the average resident.

Jason Ruiz has been on strike from the Long Beach Post since March 21, yet he’s still covering city hall without pay. Thank him for his reporting.

Long Beach spends about $119 per resident on its 169 parks annually, just under the national benchmark of $124 per person. Irvine spends about $643 per resident on its 356 parks while Washington D.C., the highest-rated city in the ParkScore index since 2021, spends $345 per resident on its 697 parks.

This year’s report was the fourth consecutive year that Long Beach dropped in the ParkSore rankings. The city was ranked as high as #19 in the 2020 and 2019 reports.

Park equity, or the lack of it across the city, is something city officials have been promising to address for decades, but funding to build new parks, and to maintain them, has not been built into the city’s annual budget.

Instead, grant funding has been a primary driver of park construction in the city like the expansion of Davenport Park in North Long Beach, which the city broke ground on last year, and the scheduled realignment of Shoreline Drive in Downtown that could see Cesar Chavez Park’s usable space increased.

That project is being propped up by a $30 million grant from Congress but the realignment of Shoreline Drive is part of a much bigger project to replace the Shoemaker Bridge, which the city is seeking about $900 million in outside funding to complete.

Residents in West Long Beach have pushed for more green space to be developed along the Los Angeles River, but funding for that project has not been secured by the city. However, the city has received funding to develop a walking path along the San Gabriel River from the state legislature, which could add more outside space to an already park-rich area of the city.

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As part of a multi-year investment plan known as “Elevate 28,” Long Beach plans to invest another $31.7 million in existing parks, and just over half of that ($16.7 million) is scheduled to come from city tax dollars while the rest of the funding is expected to come from grants and other outside sources.

A map compiled by the Trust shows that the areas most in need of new park space are in North Long Beach near the College Square, Starr King and Grant neighborhoods as well as in Cal Heights and the Westside neighborhoods.

Large swaths of East Long Beach between Clark Avenue and Studebaker Road were also identified as priority areas for new park space, according to the map.

To read more about how other cities ranked in the ParkScore ratings click here.


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