Built Environment

San Diego, CA
United States

San Diego Promise Zone, Healthy Communities Working Group City of San Diego, County of San Diego 
Social media handle(s)
@circulatesd (Instagram), @CirculateSD (Twitter)

Addressed inequity in San Diego’s public parks through an analysis of green space accessibility and roadway user safety.

Public green spaces are distributed inequitably across the city of San Diego. Hispanic and Latinx residents and residents with low incomes have 54 percent and 55 percent less access to park space, respectively, compared with the median city resident—and research demonstrates that lack of access to these spaces has an adverse effect on overall quality of life. To better understand the barriers that prevent many residents from accessing these spaces, Circulate San Diego conducted a three-pronged analysis to identify (1) the conditions responsible for limiting access to existing public green space, (2) locations that need additional public green space, and (3) quick-build treatments the city can implement to make existing public green space safer and increase access to new public green space. City departments and nonprofit partners were valuable resources and partners in this work.

The first phase of Circulate San Diego’s research involved mapping and analyzing existing conditions and identifying five local park areas within the San Diego Promise Zone (SDPZ) with the greatest need for infrastructure improvements to address high driving speeds. The creation of these maps emphasized the extent of vehicular violence in the SDPZ and helped community members absorb the gravity and importance of safe passage. The next phase focused on engaging community members with lived experience through a bilingual survey, at five pop-up events, and with other interactive activities that allowed SDPZ residents to voice their concerns regarding transportation infrastructure, access to public green space, and health equity.

The findings from these two phases allowed Circulate San Diego to identify “quick-build” treatment options and lay the groundwork for the organization to proceed with placemaking permit applications. The most popular quick-build solution was implementing creative lighting to illuminate sidewalks. Circulate San Diego made the data, project tools, and replicable methodologies available to nonprofit partners for data gathering, analysis, and engagement activities as they continue their important work of revitalizing and empowering neighborhoods.

Relevant city departments will also be able to reference findings from Circulate San Diego’s upcoming report and other outputs to help prioritize investments to improve roadway safety and introduce new public green space on city-owned parcels. By identifying potential treatments and locations, this project made progress toward the city’s longer-term goals of achieving health equity and reducing segregation, fragmentation, and isolation.