Park Facts

Access to parks is a public health and social justice imperative. Currently California is not investing sufficient resources to ensure that every resident, particularly those in our park poor communities, has access to a quality park. Parks Now was created to raise awareness about the importance of parks and to galvanize support for communities who do not have their fair share of green space and recreational opportunities. Parks Now advances discussions that drive toward common-sense, equity driven improvements to parks access for all communities.


California needs parks that address the needs of an increasingly urban, diverse, and younger population.

Problem: California parks are not serving the needs of a rapidly changing population.


  • Parks Forward Recommendations (2015)

    • The long-term success and sustainability of California’s parks require the ideas and active engagement of a diverse and committed coalition of park users and champions that represents the state’s population.
      • The Latino population is projected to grow to 45 percent by 2040.
      • In 2010 “Millennials” constituted 29 percent of California’s population and represent the single largest generation in human history.
      • More Californians are moving and living in urban areas. In 2010, 61 percent of Californians were clustered in three urban areas; by 2050, that number is projected to grow to 76 percent.


Californians deserve parks that are safe, well-kept, and readily accessible in their neighborhoods.

Problem: Many urban and low income areas throughout the state are park poor, with many residents lacking adequate access to safe, quality parks.


  • Environmental Report Card

    • Accessibility of parks remains a challenge; in California more than a quarter of teenagers report that they are unable to access to safe parks, playgrounds and green spaces.

  • The Los Angeles Countywide Comprehensive Parks & Recreation Needs Assessment (2016)

    • 50 percent of LA County residents cannot walk to a park within 10 minutes of their home.  
    • Fewer than 20 percent of parks in LA county are in good condition.

    • Affluent neighborhoods have ten times more park space per capita than underserved and minority communities.

      • Predominantly anglo neighborhoods have 32 acres of park space per capita, while predominantly African-American neighborhoods have 1.7 acres, and predominantly Latino neighborhoods have only .6 acres per person.

  • Fresno, California

    • According to the City of Fresno, residents of South Fresno’s neighborhoods, who tend to be low-income and Latino, have access to just 1.02 acres of park space per 1,000 residents, compared with the 4.62 acres of park space available in North Fresno.

  • East Bay, California

    • In the East Bay Area, more parks are concentrated in wealthy neighborhoods than in less affluent neighborhoods that are made up primarily of communities of color, and many in less affluent neighborhoods do not have the time or means to access the 15 to 30 minute car ride needed to get to parks outside their neighborhoods.


California needs more resources for parks and these resources need to be distributed equitably.

Problem: Parks lack consistent, adequate funding. In California funding for parks comes from a range of sources, that vary and fluctuate from year to year and region to region. Additionally, public funding for parks often does not proportionately benefit low-income communities.


  • The Governor’s General Fund Deferred Maintenance Proposal (2016)

    • The Governor’s office estimates that California state parks need as much as  $1.15 billion for deferred maintenance, yet the Governor’s 2016 budget only allocated $60 million to the Department of Parks and Recreation for that purpose.

  • LA Countywide Comprehensive Parks & Recreation Needs Assessment (2016)

    • LA County projects it needs $8.8 billion for community park projects, $12 billion for park maintenance, and $700 million for special facilities like nature centers, beaches, and trails.

  • UCLA Prop 84 Study (2016)

    • In 2006, California voters approved Proposition 84, a bond measure authorizing $5.4 billion to improve parks, protect natural resources, water supply and water quality. In several sections, Prop 84 sought to equitably distribute money by prioritizing funding for disadvantaged communities. However, a recent study by UCLA’s Institute on the Environment and Sustainability of Prop 84 investments with an identifiable local impact found that urban and disadvantaged communities routinely received less money than rural areas with fewer residents. Of the programs analyzed:

      • Residents in rural areas within a half-mile walking distance of Prop 84 local impact projects received $7,475 per capita spending in their neighborhoods, while residents in urban areas only received $209 per capita spending.

      • Only 44 percent of Prop 84 local impact project funding was spent in park-poor areas, with the majority of funding going to areas already having more park space per resident.

      • Of the $984 million dollars spent on traditional resource and conservation projects, only 30 percent was invested in park poor areas and only 36 percent was invested in disadvantaged communities.