San Francisco has the fifth best public parks system in the country. That might not sound terribly impressive when you come out and say it, but considering that it puts us ahead of 95 other cities on the Trust For Public Land’s ParkScore rankings, and, presumably, ahead of the 2,907 other cities that didn’t even make the list, it’s pretty remarkable.
Yes, even though we’ve had some reservations about our parks lately, and even though they can be a magnet for litigation (and other unmentionables), the Land Trust, a non-profit that funds and advocates for parks coast to coast, gave San Francisco an overall score of 77.5. The number one city, Minneapolis, clocked in at 86.5.
The rankings judge a city on what percentage of its acreage are park space, how well funded those parks are, and how accessible they are to the general public. That last one is San Francisco’s strong suit: Over 99 percent of San Franciscans live within a ten minute walk of a park.
In all, the city has 5,693 acres of parks, almost one-fifth of the terrain. Of course, nearly one fifth of that one fifth is just Golden Gate Park, which is three percent of the city all on its own.
Comparing us to first place Minneapolis, the only thing we could really do to improve our ranking (other than buttering up the judges) is make with some more facilities—for a town with such robust parks, our lack of playgrounds, dog parks, basketball hoops, and rec centers is apparently pretty damning in the eyes of the Land Trust (stern taskmasters that they are).
Despite the omnipresence of our public spaces, the trust does single out a few neighborhood still in need of significant rec space, most notably the SoMa blocks near the intersection of Van Ness, South Van Ness, and Market, and in the Ingleside neighborhoods.