Anaheim made the biggest jump of any city in the nation in the Trust for Public Lands’ annual ParkScore Index ranking of the park systems of America’s 100 largest cities – moving from 57th to 45th in a single year.

This is Anaheim’s second back-to-back jump in ParkScore rankings: from 2019 to 2019, the city ascended from 68th to 57th.

TPL’s ParkScore Index ranks city parks based on four factors:

Park access: the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park

Park acreage: a city’s median park size and the percentage of city area dedicated to parks

Park investment: park spending per resident

Park amenities: the availability of six popular park features: basketball hoops, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, “splashpads” and other water play structures, recreation and senior centers, and restrooms.

According to Guillermo Rodriguez, TPL’s California State Director, Anaheim’s upward move in the rankings was primarily driven by increased spending on parks.

“I would say Anaheim significantly improved its ParkScore in 2020 primarily due to an increases in park acreage and in park investment,” said Rodriguez. “This type of investment is critical to ensuring that anyone in Anaheim has access to a quality park, which is especially important now as we cope with the COVID crisis and look to recovery.”

Rodriguez noted that Anaheim’s per capita park spending in 2019 was $99 – increasing significantly to $115 per capita in 2020.  That difference is relatively huge when you look at how park systems across the country are spending.

He said Anaheim’s efforts “says a lot about Anaheim – that they care about their park system, they want to see it improved, and they’re doing everything that they can to try and move the needle.”

“That to me says the administration and the staff in Anaheim really value parks, and I think that’s because Anaheim residents value their parks,” said Rodriguez.

Anaheim has 83 parks, which account for 15% of the city’s land area. According to the TPL report, 67% of Anaheim residents are within 10 minutes walking distance of a park – access that is equal across demographics.

The report also includes this useful mapping tool.

City spokesman Mike Lyster expressed pride at Anaheim’s showing.

“Anaheim’s parks are where life happens for our residents. Our parks host family celebrations and youth sports and serve as front yards and gathering spaces for nearby apartment communities. Of course, some of that is on hold with coronavirus.” said Anaheim Chief Communications Officer Mike Lyster. “But, even in these times, our parks are serving as green places for people and families to walk and get fresh air as we all do our part.”

“In the past year, we added our eighth and largest skate park, our third dog park and expanded a trail and nature park with an explorer’s area for kids,” added Lyster. “We’re planning for the safe, gradual reopening of those spaces soon while also planning for more new park space, particularly as we look at the opportunity to transform the area around Angel Stadium of Anaheim.”

Need Greatest In West Anaheim
Although Anaheim continues investing in parks, the need continues to be greatest in West Anaheim, as illustrated by this map from the TPL report:

According to the TPL report, the density of population, particularly youth, correlates with areas where park need is highest.

Anaheim improved its standing in a number of TPL ParkScore metrics. In park acreage, its score rose from 60 out of 100 to 76 out of 100.  Anaheim’s parks investment score rose from 50 to 63 out of 100.

District 5 Councilman Steve Faessel

Anaheim also went from the 36th percentile to the 23rd percentile in terms of dog parks; 16th to 15th percentile in playgrounds; 57th to 53rd percentile in park bathrooms; 6th tp 5th percentile in recreation and senior centers, and 27th to 22nd percentile in splashpads.

District 5 Councilman Steve Faessel voiced gratitude for this recognition of the city’s progress. Faessel was instrumental in updating the city’s Parks Plan, which was unanimously adopted by the city council following a year of community outreach and staff involvement.

“I’m very proud of the advancements and improvements that Anaheim has recently made to improve our existing parks inventory while looking for opportunities to build new parks where space and budget permit.,” said Faessel. “I’m proud of our efforts to date, but more is necessary to conveniently provide these important amenities for all of our residents.”