Article originally appeared in the Irvine Standard
Irvine is nationally renowned for schools and safety. Now it’s gaining a reputation for parks as well.
The Trust for Public Land recently ranked Irvine’s parks as the best in Southern California, and the 10th best in the U.S.
“We are thrilled but we are not surprised,” said Lauri Hoffman, Irvine’s director of Community Services. “When the city began, there was great foresight in ensuring that open space and park development were a consideration.”
This is the third straight year that the nonprofit Trust for Public Land has ranked Irvine’s parks in the nation’s Top 10.
The study’s criteria include:
- Percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park
- Median park size and percentage of total city area dedicated to parks
- Park spending per resident
- Availability of basketball hoops, off leash dog parks, playgrounds, water play structures, recreation centers, senior centers and restrooms.
One-third of Irvine is dedicated to parks, trails and open space, making it one of the greenest cities in America. According to the study, Irvine averages 39 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents — nearly four times as much as Seattle.
In addition to 63 regional, community and neighborhood parks, Irvine has more than 200 village parks, which weren’t considered in the Trust for Public Land study.
Smaller in size, these parks are designed to meet the needs of neighborhoods within walking distance.
“It’s a fantastic amenity that shouldn’t be taken for granted because you won’t find this in every community,” Hoffman said.
Shari and Scott Myers, who’ve lived in Irvine for 20 years, said they stroll through their nearby College Park every day with their two dogs.
Reputable schools, safe neighborhoods and parks were the main reasons they decided to live in Irvine.
Irvine residents on average live 432 feet from parks, compared to the Orange County average of 1,612 Feet.
“It’s probably one of the best cities for parks,” Shari Myers said. “I think they were very much thinking about parks when they were planning Irvine.”
Living close to parks encourages residents to exercise more, reducing risk for obesity, diabetes and other serious health conditions, said Adrian Benepe, senior vice president and director of city park development for The Trust for Public Land.
“Parks also help clean the air, mitigate the risk of storm damage, build relationships among neighbors and contribute to economic growth,” Benepe added.
Minneapolis claimed the top spot, followed by Saint Paul, Minn., and Washington D.C.
Visit parkscore.tpl.org for the full rankings.