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Access to Parks

General information

Access to parks describes an environment in which individuals are able to conveniently go to a park. Access to parks can improve mental health and promote physical activity which helps prevent obesity (The Trust for Public Land, Why America Needs More City Parks and Open Space: The Benefits of Parks).

Key Findings

  • There are approximately 45 acres of parks for every 1,000 people in San Mateo County. In low-income areas in the county, there are 40 acres of park for every 1,000 people.
  • Areas with the highest number of acres of parks per 1,000 people are in Pescadero, Loma Mar, and Colma.
  • Areas with the lowest number of acres of parks per 1,000 people include the cities of Millbrae, Burlingame, Hillsborough, San Mateo, Foster City, Belmont, San Carlos, Atherton, Menlo Park, and East Palo Alto.
  • Low-income neighborhoods in Daly City, South San Francisco, San Mateo, Redwood City, North Fair Oaks, and East Palo Alto have between 0 and 6.3 acres of park for every 1,000 residents.


  • Population data were obtained from U.S. Census Bureau’s 2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-year Estimates at American FactFinder.
  • Parks data were obtained from San Mateo County Open Data Portal.
  • Access to parks was analyzed by calculating the area of parks on the city level and calculating how many acres of park were available for every 1,000 city residents.
  • Data were analyzed and mapped using ArcGIS for Desktop.
  • Data included all persons.


  • Approximately 295,000 households are selected to participate in the annual American Community Survey, or less than 1 percent of all households in the U.S. 
  • Data are estimates based on survey responses, and not actual counts.  
  • Estimates have some chance of error.