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Parks Access

Variable Definitions:

Access to All Parks: The percentage of residents that live within 1/2 mile of a public park

Access to Good Parks: The percentage of residents that live within 1/2 mile of a public park that was considered to be in “good condition” by the 2022 LA County Parks Needs Assessment

Methodology Note:

Parks data was made available as a shapefile. The research team added a 1/2 mile buffer surrounding each park, then overlaid the data with 2020 Census Tracts to spatially analyze what portion of each tract lies within proximity to the parks.


Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation: 2022 Parks Needs Assessment Plus 

Years Available:


Why are these variables important to measure?

Park access describes an area’s fair quantity and proximity to quality parks, green spaces, recreational facilities, and gardens. Parks and open spaces can benefit one’s health and well-being as well as foster a strong community between residents. Studies have demonstrated that access to parks and greenspace can increase children’s physical activity, reduce stress, and improve academic performance.
However, not all communities have access to these resources. In particular, lower income communities do not interact with green space and the outdoors in the same capacity as those in single-household homes or affluent areas. According to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, 61% of California residents live in areas with less than 3 acres of parks or open space per 1,000 residents. Park access is instrumental in the effort to improve public health. 
The Parks Needs Assessment Plus ( PNA+), adopted in 2016, serves as LA County’s strategy for land conservation and restoration. Spearheaded by the Los Angeles County Department Parks and Recreation (DPR), the PNA has directly influenced the success of Measure A, which was approved by nearly 75% of voters in November 2016 and promotes dedicated funding for areas with a lack of parks. The location of parks and recreational opportunities is a valuable data set that can connect users to their local resources and help researchers visualize green space. Park access can also be an effective tool for jurisdictions to gauge which areas lack green spaces and guide future park planning. 
Written by Rediet Retta


Barton, J & Rogerson, M (2017 Nov 1). The importance of greenspace for mental health. National Library of Medicine doi: 10.1192/s2056474000002051 
California State Parks. Parks Access Tool. https://www.parksforcalifornia.org/parkaccess/?overlays1=parks%2Cnoparkaccess&overlays2=parks%2Cparksper1000 
Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. 2022 Parks Needs Assessment Plus (PNA+). https://lacountyparkneeds.org/pnaplus-home/
National Recreation and Park Association. Parks Access. https://www.nrpa.org/our-work/partnerships/initiatives/park-access/ 

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