SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee and the Recreation and Park Department announced on Tuesday, May 16, that the city of San Francisco is the first and only city in the U.S. where all residents have access to a park within a 10-minute walk.

According to a press release from the Mayor’s Office, the findings were part of the Trust for Public Land’s (TPL) Park Score, an assessment of the nation’s 100 largest cities. The city of SF has invested over $355 million in parks and open space projects since Mayor Lee’s tenure. For his upcoming two-year budget, Mayor Lee will include $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 represents an 81 percent increase from 2015 levels.

“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.”

The news was revealed at a newly renovated Hilltop Park, a recreational facility with a state-of-the-art skate park and playground. According to TPL, 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 that a majority of people can walk a half-mile in about 10 minutes. TPL and park planners across the country rely on sophisticated technology and data to measure the 10-minute walk and have concluded that everyone should be able to reach a park in that amount of time, no matter what kind of neighborhood they live in.

“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 SVP & 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.”

To obtain the unique distinction as the nation’s first city to have all residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park or open space, the Recreation and Park Department has been actively maximizing the recreational use of park land citywide, as well as attaining new land that can be developed into public parks. In past years, the city of 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 900 Innes Ave, also known as Indian Basin, to the city’s list of new parks.

“Our goal is to have clean, safe parks accessible to all San Franciscans,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec and Park General Manager. “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.”

In addition to planning, developing, and maintaining lands under its jurisdiction, the Recreation and Park Department is continuing to work with other city agencies to address open space needs around the region. The Recreation and Park Department brings park expertise and perspective to emerging open space projects, working closely to counsel on open space needs. 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 that serve San Francisco residents.

Written By Casey Jacobs