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Parks and Sustainable Cities: The Rankings

SustainLane is out with its annual ranking of sustainability for the 50 most-populous cities in the nation, benchmarking each city’s performance in 16 areas.

The particular category of interest to parks is “Planning & Land Use,” which combines data from the Center for City Park Excellence on parks as a percent of land area in each city with Smart Growth America’s sprawl rankings. The result is that the top ranked cities are those that combine a large percentage of space for parks and conservation with more densely populated development on the rest of the land. The top five cities in this category are: New York, San Francisco, Portland, Boston and Albuquerque.

The message is that fighting sprawl with conservation is only as good as the density of development on what’s not conserved. Otherwise, sprawl could actually be made worse with leap frog development stretching further into the countryside. When you get the corresponding higher density development, however, that saves energy usage, infrastructure costs and vehicle miles traveled. Parks are ever more important in providing the space for people to play.

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