One of the biggest gripes in the City of Santa Ana has to be the lack of access to parks for the majority of the city’s residents. Park space is scarce in this city. The City boasts a total of 35 parks citywide, although looking at the list, there are a couple of names listed that I would seriously take issue with at whether they should even count as a park. Seriously, a street corner with a large fountain is being counted as a park? While some areas have more parks than others, it is clear the entire city is fairly park starved.
Just ask the residents who live either on the West end of the city or between 17th and Segerstrom and I am sure they will be more than happy to show people just how park starved those residents really are and why those are the areas our Department of Recreation and Parks should be focusing on to improve their access to park space. Instead of pontificating, I decided to actually do some research into the need for park space in Santa Ana and came up with some disturbing details. Let us start with the amount of parkspace. There is approximately 340 acres of park space in Santa Ana, that translates to roughtly 1 acre of park space for every 1,000 people according to 2000 U.S. Census figures. Now imagine just how much the ratio is with the upcoming 2010 census numbers. In the last 10 years, the city has added only 1.2 acres of parkspace, while taking more away to build Godinez High School and expand the Centennial Education Center, making Centennial Park, which should be the jewel of Santa Ana, the Incredible Shrinking Park.
To illustrate just how park starved this city is, you can get even more of a visual here by entering an address in Santa Ana and it will show you just how park decificient this city is, especially in working class Latino areas with a lot of children. Click hereÂ to see how Santa Ana compares to other large and dense city’s in the US. Even Manhattan, the very epitome of an urban jungle, puts Santa Ana to shame when it comes to park space and access.
Deciding to do my own research, what I did was divide the city into seven geographic areas, roughly the same area and based on communities of interest. While the inner city has realtively the same areas of interest, I divided that area into four zones. You can see the comparison charts Here. On the side here is the map I created of Santa Ana with the divided areas. I included 33 city parks, excluding the Zoo because it does not have free access and Scasser “Park” and the Herb Garden becaue they really should not be considered city parks.
The methodology I used was rounding the population of each area to the nearest hundred based on 2000 census information. The total park acreage for the city is 336.03 acres.
North Santa Ana
North Santa Ana is the most park rich are of the city. It is also the most affluent. The area has an approximate population of 41,200 people, roughly 12.2% of the population, yet is has 32.1% of the parkspace in the entire city. The total acreage for the north is 107.8 Acres, although it should be noted half of the acreage is in Santiago Park alone. Nonetheless, it still has a total of 8 parks, far more than any other area of the city translating to 1 acre per 382 people, although 6 have playgrounds for children.
West Santa Ana
This covers all of the area west of the Santa Ana River. One of the most park starved areas of the city , the total people to park acreage ration is 1 Acre per 2,004 people, double the city average. There are onlyÂ 5 parks covering a total of 27 acres serving approximately 55,100 residents. Work is definitely needed to provide more park space to all these residents, many of them Latino and Vietnamese.
South Santa Ana
South Santa Ana also known as South Coast Metro is a newer area of the city that is ethnically mixed and mainly middle class. They have 4 parks serving 34,000 residents, and has a ratio of 1 Acre for every 586 residents, although it should be noted, have the acreage is in Thornton Park alone. The other three are bunched together in the Sandpointe area, leaving the Segerstrom High School area without a park within walking distance.
Inner City Northwest
Now lets get into the heavily Latino areas of the city where 61.4% of the population lives according to the 2000 census. Here is where the tragedy begins. 61.4% of the population lives here, but I have already covered more 57% of the park space in the city in the previous three areas. That leaves less than 43% of the park space in the city to more than 200,000 people. It only goes down hill from here. We shall start in the northwest of the inner city(Artesia Pilar, Windsor Village, Bella Vista, Casa Bonita, Central City). There is 46,300 people here for 37.1 acres of park space at a total of 4 parks. That translates to 1 acre for every 1,248 residents. Already below the city average, but it pales in comparison to the next area.
Inner City Northeast
This is the most densely populated area of the city, covering Downtown, Willard, French Park, Lacy, Eastside, Heninger Park, Saddleback View, Pico Lowell and Logan. The population as of 2000 was an astounding 77,800 people, yet there is a total of 6.6 acres of park space covering 5 parks, only three with playgrounds for children. That translates to 1 acre per 12,424 people.Â It should be noted the city wants to make this area even more densely populated and yet refuses to force developers to even consider new parks, it took a group like SACRED to get some action. It should also be noted there will be a small new park soon, although it will be privately run by Latino Health Access, who was given nothing but problems from the city to provide more park space to what is likely the most open space deficient area in the nation if not the planet.
Inner City Southwest
The area includes Centennial Park, Shadow Run, Bristol Warner, New Horizon, Rosewood, the western half of Memorial Park, Valley Adams and Mid City. The population is 43,800 people. On the surface, it actually looks like an area of the inner city that is park rich, with a ration of 1 acre per 488 people, the second best ration in the city. Yet there are only four parks and 77% of the park acreage in this area is concentrated in Centennial Park. Much of this area lacks parks that residents can walk to, making this a park poor area and only two of the smaller parks have a playground for children.
Inner City Southeast
The tragedy concludes here. The neighborhoods covering this area are Wilshire Square, Delhi, Madison Park, Cornerstone Village and the eastern half of Memorial Park. The population is 34,600 people. There are only 9.7 acres of park space over three parks translating to 1 acre per 3,567 people. Once again this is inexcuseable. The most needy residents and the youngest residents of our city have been neglected and continue to be neglected by an uncaring city hall, despite these facts.
And I am not the only one to reveal these facts. Latino Health Access has a powerpoint that details some of the finding I have written here. I understand there has been a local resident who wants to take away some of the scarce park space we currently have to make a dog park. A dog park is fine and dandy, but we should not be taking away the park space we already have to do it, a new spot should be found. Even so, with what has just been demonstrated in this post, findings that a Latino advocacy group has made shows beyond any reasonable doubt that before any dog park is built in Santa Ana, the city should be focusing on PEOPLE PARKS.
Of course the usual talking points from the city will begin. “They are out of money, what do you want us to do cut from police and fire, the people in the north vote, they can climb the fence and use the school playgrounds, there is no more room for parks, we are built out.” But we as residents should NOT take NO for an answer. There are ways to build parks and get more parks city wide. There are ways to get grants. Heck when a non-profit, Latino Health Access stepped forward to offer to build and run a park, the city gave them a hard time. There is plenty of room for parks, there are plenty of vacant areas of land in the neediest areas just sitting there blighting the landscape. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see those areas green with well maintenanced trees and children playing either sports or on the playground rather than playing in the dangerous street or stuffing their face with sweets.
There are solutions and ideas out there to create new parks and fix the ones we already have. Focusing on parks for people should be the priority, and I believe groups like SACRED, Latino Health Access and Chicanos Unidos would agree.