Graphics by Baktaash Sorkhabi
This post is part of our inaugural Park Week Series: Long Beach is for Park Lovers. This week, we will be celebrating parks and open space in the city and beyond. To see all posts for this series, click here.
Make no mistake: Long Beach is for park lovers—and that is precisely why we are creating our inaugural Park Week Series by exploring not just our local spaces but examining some of the world’s best parks, what we can learn from policies surrounding parks, and how green space plays a role in the health of all humans.
Long Beach is home to some 3,100 acres of parks—be they massive expanses like the 763-acre El Dorado Park to some of the coolest mini-parks this side of the 10 like Miracle on 4th Street. In this sense, Long Beach provides something for everyone when it comes to parks: horse riding, Frisbee golf, yoga, biking, skating, or simply sitting down and relaxing with a book or the inside of your head.
This doesn’t mean that Long Beach is perfect. Far from it—and there are serious if not outright grave issues when it comes to park equity, who has access to parks, and where programming is.
The recent controversy surrounding the Municipal Band (and which parks it plays for free at) prompted the City Council to examine these precise issues—no small feat, I assure you, because there is no other way of putting it: park equity is important for the health of our community.
Long Beach ranks #24 out of the 100 most populous cities according to ParkScore—not bad. In fact, 81% of all Long Beach residents can access some form of a park within a ten minute walk from their home. The addition of Gumbiner Park and the still-in-process freeway removal on the Westside help this accessibility.
But over 20% of Long Beach’s total population is unable to access parks when age and income are considered—and it falls disproportionately on West and North Long Beach, with the most park poor areas also the most dense, the most youthful, and the poorest.
Along with celebrating our parks, we’ll be looking into issues like these. And we hope you enjoy the journey with us.