Descriptive Title:

Percent of open space that is a designated natural area

Geographic Unit of Analysis:

Open space boundaries

Percent of open space that is a designated natural area (2014)
NeighborhoodNatural Area (sq ft)Open Space (sq ft)% of open space that is a natural area
Bayview/Hunter's Point 6,818,070 17,098,614 39.9%
Bernal Heights 1,056,632 2,431,014 43.5%
Castro/Upper Market 419,904 3,746,703 11.2%
Chinatown 0 152,853 0.0%
Excelsior 7,411,884 16,924,760 43.8%
Financial District/South Beach 10,121 4,109,480 0.2%
Glen Park 2,852,308 3,910,053 72.9%
Golden Gate Park 11,694,295 67,296,249 17.4%
Haight Ashbury 271,160 1,863,715 14.5%
Hayes Valley 0 876,710 0.0%
Inner Richmond 0 57,263,980 0.0%
Inner Sunset 1,198,233 5,333,594 22.5%
Japantown 0 180,292 0.0%
Lakeshore 27,158,345 64,862,577 41.9%
Lincoln Park 16,248 14,408,762 0.1%
Lone Mountain/USF 0 1,856,286 0.0%
Marina 2,578,114 64,598,235 4.0%
McLaren Park 7,414,756 18,202,445 40.7%
Mission 0 1,955,104 0.0%
Mission Bay 977,695 5,282,343 18.5%
Nob Hill 0 89,747 0.0%
Noe Valley 22,123 2,764,551 0.8%
North Beach 2,954,960 5,623,389 52.5%
Oceanview/Merced/Ingleside 108,089 1,079,122 10.0%
Outer Mission 0 1,257,778 0.0%
Outer Richmond 6,176,095 62,295,829 9.9%
Pacific Heights 21,675 1,060,737 2.0%
Portola 0 8,194,029 0.0%
Potrero Hill 12,198 3,398,232 0.4%
Presidio 6,538,124 69,231,225 9.4%
Presidio Heights 0 57,263,980 0.0%
Russian Hill 3,192,628 9,119,359 35.0%
San Francisco 144,858,134 807,063,102 17.9%
Seacliff 6,538,124 77,024,029 8.5%
South of Market 0 421,856 0.0%
Sunset/Parkside 31,743,531 111,174,982 28.6%
Tenderloin 0 410,927 0.0%
Treasure Island 6,818,070 17,098,614 39.9%
Twin Peaks 1,700,997 5,750,150 29.6%
Visitacion Valley 6,875,815 14,732,911 46.7%
West of Twin Peaks 2,277,942 5,651,941 40.3%
Western Addition 0 1,065,948 0.0%

Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?

Parks and natural open space areas promote physical activity and social interaction. Areas with natural vegetation also have direct effects on physical and mental health. One review of studies showed that access to places for physical activity combined with outreach and education can produce a 48% increase in the frequency of physical activity.a Exposure to greenery and the natural world has additional benefits to health. More generally, living in proximity to green space is associated with reduced self-reported health symptoms, better self-rated health, and higher scores on general health questionnaires.b Trees and green space also improve the physical environment by removing air pollution from the air and mitigating the urban heat island effect produced by concrete and glass.c

Interpretation and Geographic Equity Analysis

Public open space refers to lands that are publicly owned, publicly used, and publicly accessible. The amount of public open space per neighborhood varies greatly across San Francisco.

The Open Space Element of the City's General Plan (as amended in 1991) requires the City to preserve and protect the Significant Natural Resource Areas (Policy 13). The policy identifies the following criteria used to determine a Significant Natural Area:

  1. Relatively undisturbed remnants of San Francisco's original landscape that either support diverse and significant indigenous plant and wildlife habitats or contain rare geologic formations or riparian zones;
  2. Sites that contain rare, threatened, or endangered species or areas likely to support these species; and
  3. Areas adjacent to other protected natural resource areas.

In San Francisco these communities may include oak woodlands, creeks, lakes, grasslands, dunes, scrub and rock outcrops. In many cases these nature preserves are the only places where wildlife such as the Red-tailed Hawk, Gray Fox, Great-horned Owl, and San Francisco garter snake still reside, reproduce and play.


To calculate the percent of neighborhood open space that is natural area, total square feet of natural area were divided by the number of square feet that was designated as natural area.


Not all significant natural areas may be accounted for in this data. Significant natural areas not publicly owned have not been accounted for. 

Data Source

Presidio Trust, 2015

Recreation & Parks Department, 2014

U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service, 2014

Map and table created by San Francisco Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Section using ArcGIS software. Table data is presented by analysis neighborhood.

Detailed information regarding census data, geographic units of analysis, their definitions, and their boundaries can be found at the following links:

Interactive boundaries map

  1. Kahn EB. The effectiveness of interventions to increase physical activity. Am J Prev Med. 2002;22(4):73-107.
  2. Vries S, de Verheij RA, Groenewegen PP, Spreeuwenberg P. Natural environments - healthy environments? An exploratory analysis of the relationship between green space and health. Environment and Planning A. 2003;35(10):1717-1731.
  3. Parks for People: Why America Needs more City Parks and Open Space. San Francisco: The Trust for Public Land, 2003.