Descriptive Title: Proportion of population within 1/4 mile of a public recreation facility

Geographic Unit of Analysis: Point

Percent of population within 1/4 mile of a recreation facility (2010)
NeighborhoodPercent of population
Bayview/Hunter's Point 57%
Bernal Heights 47%
Castro/Upper Market 66%
Chinatown 100%
Excelsior 48%
Financial District/South Beach 21%
Glen Park
Golden Gate Park NA
Haight Ashbury 31%
Hayes Valley
Inner Richmond 38%
Inner Sunset 35%
Lakeshore 38%
Lincoln Park
Lone Mountain/USF
Marina 50%
McLaren Park
Mission 55%
Mission Bay
Nob Hill 69%
Noe Valley 37%
North Beach 54%
Outer Mission 43%
Outer Richmond 58%
Pacific Heights 11%
Potrero Hill 59%
Presidio 14%
Presidio Heights 76%
Russian Hill 69%
San Francisco 47%
Seacliff 38%
South of Market 26%
Treasure Island 0%
Twin Peaks 22%
Visitacion Valley 71%
West of Twin Peaks 45%
Western Addition 55%

Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?

Both the number of neighborhood parks in proximity to one's residence and the types of amenities at the park (i.e., lighting, sports fields) predict the duration of physical activity in children.a One review of studies showed that access to places for physical activity combined with outreach and education can produce a 48 percent increase in the frequency of physical activity.b Access to community recreational facilities also provides a space for social engagement, which may promote the development of social networks and social cohesion in a place.  Children who live in close proximity to parks, playgrounds, and recreational facilities tend to be more active compared to children who do not live near those facilities.c  Adolescents who engage in moderate physical activity five or more times a week are more likely to achieve an ‘A’ in math and science than their peers.Finally, an analysis of data from 2,134 women in five states found that the density of fitness facilities in an individual’s zipcode predicted their body mass index. The study estimates that an additional fitness facility per 1000 residents in ones zipcode is associated with a reduction in BMI of 1.39 kg/m2.e


The percentage of population within 1/4 mile of a community recreational facility is calculated by dividing the total population within 1/4 mile of a community recreational facility in a specific neighborhood by the total population in that neighborhood.

Facility buffers were visualized using shading to indicate the type of facility. Because there may be multiple types of facilities at one address, not all facility types at a single location may be visible on the map due to buffers overlapping.

Recreation facilities run by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (SFRPD) can generally be broken down into six different types of facilities, described below:

  • Activity Centers - centers used for specific types of activities, such as arts, or for specific populations, such as seniors, with lesser emphasis on a broad range of exercise related activities.
  • Clubhouses - facilities located in parks that generally contain restrooms and a small space for events and communities meetings, and may host afterschool programming.
  • Community pools - aquatic facilities that offer both recreational swimming and classes.
  • Day camps - multi day youth camp programming.
  • Fieldhouses - facilities that support the uses outdoor spaces, such as playing fields.
  • Recreation centers - full service activity centers that provide gyms, classrooms, and programming.

The SFRPD generally breaks down their facilities by magnitude of services into five levels; however, the service levels of the facilities visualized are not indicated here.

Facility Magnitude


Level 1

Always a school facility - however, due to recent budget cuts, they no longer staff such facilities.

Level 2

A facility with latchkey and/or afterschool programming operating 20-40 hours.

Level 3

Typically a clubhouse with a field or some outdoor area with latchkey and/or afterschool programming operating 54-74 hours.

Level 4

A clubhouse with multiple fields and perhaps lights operating 74-79 hours.

Level 5

A large recreation center with a gymnasium or auditorium, lights, multiple fields operating 74-79 hours.

Source: San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department.


The terms open space and parks and recreational facilities are used interchangeably by different agencies and organizations. There are many different types of open space including Flagship Parks, Regional Parks, Neighborhood Parks, Undeveloped Open Spaces, Civic Squares and Plazas, Greenscapes, Mini Parks, Greenbelts, Rec Center or Clubhouse Grounds/Athletic Fields and Sports Courts, Lakes, Future Parks, Stairways, Specialty Parks, Golf Courses, Breathing Room, and Usable Parks. For more detailed definitions, please visit:

In August 2004, the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Department released a Recreation Assessment Report. The report provided summary recommendations based on community and staff focus groups, citizen mail and phone surveys, program and facility assessments, service area mapping, and development of vision, mission, goals, strategies, tactics, and performance measures. The five key goal recommendations from the report included:

  • Develop consistent core programs and facility standards across the city so all participants and users receive a quality recreation experience.
  • Recreation services will meet community needs through effective use of demographic data and increased marketing and promotional efforts to inform users of services.
  • Recreation facilities will be valued as community assets by upgrading and maintaining all indoor and outdoor facilities in need of major repair over a ten year period to create a quality user experience and positive image for the city.
  • Update existing and create new partnership agreements to extinguish balance and equity of each partner's investment, creating trust and eliminating entitlement.
  • Reposition Recreation services as a viable city service by developing an outcome based management culture that focuses on accountability and exceeding the needs of users while building an efficient and productive organization that operates in a proactive manner.

The full report is available at:

Proximity is not the same as access. Many factors affect access to recreational facilities including cost, hours of operation, the presence of major roads, highways, buildings and gates, perceived and actual safety, quality of facilities, transportation, cultural preferences, etc. This indicator, 1/4 mile proximity to a recreational facility, is just one element of many in assessing access to recreational facilities.

Data Source

List of recreation facilities from San Francisco Department of Recreation and Parks, 2008.

Population: 2010 US Census

Map and table created by San Francisco Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Section using ArcGIS software.

Table data is presented by planning neighborhood. While planning neighborhoods are larger geographic areas than census tracts, census tracts do not always lie completely within a planning neighborhood. SFDPH used ArcGIS software and a dasymetric mapping technique to attribute Census block group data to residential lots. We then assigned residential lots to planning neighborhoods to calculate Census population totals within the neighborhoods.

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. Cohen DA, Ashwood JS, Scott MM, Overton A, Evenson KR, Staten LK, Porter D, McKenzie TL, Catellier D. Public parks and physical activity among adolescent girls. Pediatrics. 2006;118(5):e1381-1389.
  2. Kahn EB. The effectiveness of interventions to increase physical activity. American Journal of Preventative Medicine. 2002;22:87-88.
  3. Bauman A, Bull F. Environmental Correlates of Physical Activity and Walking in Adults and Children: A Review of Reviews. London: National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence; 2007.

  4. Nelson MC, Gordon-Larsen P. Physical activity and sedentary behavior patterns are associated with selected adolescent health risk behaviors. Pediatrics. 2006;117:1281-1290.

  5. Mobley LR, Root ED, Finkelstein EA, et al. Environment, obesity, and cardiovascular disease risk in low-income women. Am J Prev Med. 2006;30(4):327-332.