For the second year running, Irvine’s park system ranked fourth in the U.S. and best in California among America’s 100 largest cities, according to a new report by the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit that surveys and advocates for access to the outdoors.

While Irvine’s fourth-place finish ties its 2023 rank, the Trust for Public Land says the city is poised for improvement as it makes progress toward its Great Park vision.

Further north, the city has also committed to preserving nearly 700 acres of open space that will connect with Limestone Canyon, Black Star Canyon and extend to the Cleveland National Forest. The Gateway Preserve project will include land acquired through the closure of the All American Asphalt Plant, as well as open space dedicated by the Irvine Company and land the city already owned.

In the south of the city, Irvine already maintains wilderness trails that can connect with regional parks and Crystal Cove State Park.

Another key reason why Irvine ranks so high in the Trust for Public Land’s annual survey is that 93% of Irvine residents currently live within a 10-minute walk of a park. The survey looks at five factors: access, equity, acreage, investment and amenities.

Irvine boasts 22 community parks and more than 40 neighborhood parks.

The Trust for Public Land says that on a per capita basis, Irvine invests more than five times as much money as the average big city and the $643 annual park investment the city makes per resident is the highest in the nation among America’s largest 100 cities. In total, more than 26% of city land is reserved for parks, according to the annual survey.

“We are very excited to be ranked No. 1 in California for our parks for the second consecutive year,” Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan said. “Our commitment to keeping one-third of our land as open space is a key component of our health and wellness initiatives, providing easy access, equity and amenities our residents and visitors enjoy is a key priority.”

Orange County’s other big cities — Anaheim and Santa Ana — ranked 76th and 93rd on the 2024 list, respectively. Long Beach ranked 61st while Los Angeles came in at 88th. Washington, D.C., retained its top spot among America’s big cities with the best park system.

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