Long Beach ranked 58th in a national park score index put out by the Trust for Public Land this week, which ranked Irvine as the best park city in the region and Washington, D.C. as the top big-city park system in the country for the third consecutive year.
The Trust for Public Lands is a national nonprofit that was founded in the 1970s and seeks to connect people with the outdoors. Its park score ratings were based on five areas, including park equity, acreage, per-capita spending on parks and park amenities and park access—how many residents live within a 10-minute walk from a park.
Long Beach scored high (74 points) in the access area, with 83% of its residents living within a 10-minute walk to a park, which is above the national average (74%) of the 100 biggest cities in the US. Long Beach is the 43rd largest city in the country, according to a recent Census estimate.
Its two lowest scores came in the acreage (33 points) and equity (39 points) categories. The report found that low-income neighborhoods had access to 62% less park space than the city median, while high-income neighborhoods had access to 86% more park space than low-income neighborhoods.
Some of Long Beach’s largest public parks like El Dorado Park and Recreation Park are located in East Long Beach near more affluent neighborhoods. North, West and Central Long Beach were identified by the report as areas with a “very high” need for new parks.
The report found that communities of color in the city had access to 48% less than the average neighborhood and 90% less than white neighborhoods.
Long Beach’s per-capita spending on parks is $124, which is $16 more per person than the national benchmark, but $160 less per person than Irvine and $135 less than Washington, D.C.
The city’s Parks, Recreation and Marine Department accounted for about 6% of the city’s $674 million general fund budget adopted in September.
In recent years the city has made attempts to expand park access across the city. Earlier this year, the city announced it was moving forward with a project that would more than double the size of Davenport Park in North Long Beach to about 11.5 acres.
It’s also seeking $5 million in grant funds to build out 11 acres of open space along the Los Angeles River. The project was proposed in the wake of a challenge to developments on two much larger parcels along the river where community advocates say residents were promised park space.
City officials recently approved a storage center and a housing development to move forward but the storage center project is now on hold after a judge ruled the project needs to undergo environmental review.
Long Beach is also looking to transform Cesar Chavez Park in Downtown into a much larger space by reorienting the Shoreline Drive exit from the 710 Freeway. The project would remove northbound lanes that currently cut off a large chunk of green space from the usable portion of the park.
You can read the park full report here.