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Economic Value of San Francisco Parks Approaches $1 Billion Annually

San Francisco’s park system plays a particularly outsized role in the City’s economy and is worth almost $1 billion a year, according to a recent report.

The report, by The Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence in partnership with the San Francisco Parks Alliance, said the value of San Francisco’s parks is $959 million a year.

The report incorporates data from San Francisco’s entire park and recreation system: everything from destination icons like Crissy Field and Coit Tower, to trails, natural areas, neighborhoods and community parks, and even hardscape downtown squares. Seven major factors are analyzed and enumerated in the report: property value attributable to parks, revenues from park-related tourism, the value citizens derive from direct use of free or very low cost park resources (called “direct use”), health benefits resulting from active recreation in parks, community cohesion from gathering together in parks, clean water and clean air.

“San Francisco has known that investing in building and maintaining new parks and open space is good for our residents and good for our City’s economy,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “This new economic analysis report shows that parks are vital to the success of our thriving City.”

“Parks contribute billions to the wealth of residents and save the City money. This study affirms that we need a fundamental shift in our thinking about parks,” said Matt O’Grady, Chief Executive Officer of the San Francisco Parks Alliance. “Parks are not just amenities. They’re essential drivers of our economy, environment, and quality of life in San Francisco.”

This is the 12th such study undertaken by TPL’s Center for City Park Excellence, and the findings represent interesting comparisons between selected cities. For example, San Francisco’s parks generate more property value and tourism tax revenues than Denver or Seattle’s parks do.

“In a decade of doing these kinds of studies, we haven’t seen another place that has gotten as much value from its parks as San Francisco,” said Peter Harnik, director of the Center. “San Francisco’s parks seem to be inextricably entwined within the economic life of the city. It’s very impressive.”

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