Congratulations to Irvine on Earning Top Parks Rating in California and 6th in the Nation!

The City of Irvine park system has been ranked 6th in the nation by the Trust for Public Land annual ParkScore Index, effectively making Irvine the top-ranked city in California.

Significantly, with new parks, open space, and amenities added over the past year, the City rose from last year’s ranking of 10th in the nation, climbing up four places.

The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore rankings assess the nation’s 100 largest cities on factors such as park access, acreage, investment, and amenities. Irvine earned a perfect sore in park spending per resident, and is second in the national for basketball hoops per 10,000 residents.

Among the factors considered in the evaluation is the fact that 80 percent of Irvine’s residents live within a 10 minute walk of a park (compared to a national average of 54 percent) and that 27 percent of Irvine’s city land is used for parks and recreation (compared to a national average of 15 percent).

Of special note, the ParkScore Index did not find any significant difference regarding closeness to parks in Irvine based on the race, nationality, age, or income level of Irvine residents.

The ParkScore Index includes parks, facilities, and amenities managed by the City, either through ownership or joint-use agreements.

The full ParkScore Index is available at, including score details and demographic information for each city.

Learn more about Irvine parks at

The Trust for Public Land works to protect the places people care about and to create close-to-home parks — particularly in and near cities, where 80 percent of Americans live. It’s goal is to “ensure that every child has easy access to a safe place to play in nature. We also conserve working farms, ranches, and forests; lands of historical and cultural importance; rivers, streams, coasts, and watersheds; and other special places where people can experience nature close at hand.”

Congratulations to my City Council colleagues, our City Manager and City staff, and our Community Services Commissioners, especially our Irvine Community Services Commission Chair Lauren Johnson-Norris!


Fox and Hounds – Meet Up with Commissioner Melissa Fox and Scout at Irvine’s Central Bark Dog Park


One of my favorite things to do is to take my family’s best friend – Scout, our Siberian Husky – to Irvine’s Central Bark Dog Park, located just off Sand Canyon Avenue at 6405 Oak Canyon Road, for off-leash running, playing, and socializing with other dogs.

How about meeting Scout – and me – at Central Bark this Saturday, March 29, at 1:00 to 2:00 p.m.

Scout Fox

Scout Fox

Opened in 2000, Irvine’s Central Bark features almost three acres of open field for off-leash doggie play.  The park is funded and maintained by the City – under the supervision of the Community Services Department and the Community Services Commission.  It features water for dogs, bags for dog droppings, high-quality turf for off-leash running and playing, trees for shade, and shaded seating for human (and sometimes canine) visitors.  It is handicapped-accessible.  There are separate fenced areas for small (or frail) dogs and for large dogs – you will often see smaller dogs running the length of the fence barking at and “chasing” the bigger dogs from the safety of their side of the enclosure.

Central Bark also has its own parking lot for about 30 cars and parking on the street is easy and free.  The park’s lighting allows for longer operating hours, from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily except Wednesdays, when it is closed for maintenance.

Entrance is always free.

Central Bark isn’t just a great place for dogs to be social.  It’s also a great place for dog lovers to connect.  It is easy to start a conversation about your dogs, vet care, pet food, the best (and worst) things about Orange County’s dog parks, and the many glories (and the occasional problems) of living life with man’s best friend.

Let’s you and me and our best friends meet at Irvine’s Central Bark this Saturday, March 30.  I will bring Scout, and a short questionnaire that will provide you with the opportunity to let us know what you like and don’t like about the park and your ideas about how we might improve Central Bark for both dogs and people.

See you there!

What: Fox and Hounds – Meet Up with Commissioner Melissa Fox and Scout at Irvine’s Central Bark Dog Park
When: Saturday, March 29, 2014, at 1:00-2:00 p.m.
Where: Irvine’s Central Bark Dog Park, 6405 Oak Canyon Road, Irvine 92618

For park information and for info on closure due to weather, call 949-724-MUDD (6833).

If you have any questions, please contact me at 949-683-8855 or

UpdateThank you to everyone who came to Irvine’s Central Bark yesterday and filled out a survey. We learned that people really love our dog park. There were also some terrific suggestions for making the park even better.  It was great talking with so many people who love their dogs and love our dog park!




Irvine’s Parks and Recreation Rated in America’s Top 10


According to the financial advice website NerdWallet, Irvine is the 9th best city in America for recreation and an active lifestyle.

That’s great – but I think we should have been rated even higher.

The website asked “Which cities are best for recreation and living an active lifestyle? If you value exercise and personal health, then finding a city that can offer you a variety of recreational activities should be high on your list of priorities when it comes to choosing a place to live. Cities with lots of parkland, playgrounds and recreation centers can provide you with plenty of options to maintain your particular level of physical activity.”

They then evaluated 95 American cities for recreational activities based on these questions:

  • Does the city have plenty of recreational options for those with varying skills and interests?  We assessed the volume of available options by reporting the number of recreational facilities per 100,000 residents.  Recreational facilities include ball diamonds, skateboard parks, basketball hoops, ice-skating rinks, golf courses, swimming pools and tennis courts.  Only public facilities were included.
  • Does the city have a lot of green space?  We included the acres of parkland as a percentage of city area.
  • Does the city have recreation options for those of all ages?  We included the number of recreation and senior centers per 20,000 residents.
  • Does the city have playgrounds?  We included the number of playgrounds per 10,000 residents to assess whether there were kid-friendly recreation options in the city.

Based on these criteria, their top cities were (1) Minneapolis, MN, (2) Madison, WI, (3) St. Paul, MN, (4) Cincinnati, OH, (5) Norfolk, VA, (6) Baton Rouge, LA, (7) Anchorage, AK, (8) Washington, D.C., (9) Irvine, CA, and (10) Pittsburgh, PA.

Here’s what they had that to say about Irvine:

“Irvine offers residents access to trails in the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, Bommer Canyon, Turtle Rock Nature Center and acres of open space. You can find aquatics centers, athletic fields, neighborhood and community parks, skate parks and tennis courts. The city has adult sports leagues for basketball, softball and soccer, and many youth sports options. The city provides an array of summer camps for children and UC Irvine’s Campus Recreation offers Anteater Recreation Summer Camps and weekend activities for local kids. Your dog can get some exercise on the nearly three acres of field at Central Bark.”

That’s all true – but, as I said, I think we should have been rated higher.

Unlike the other cities on the list – especially Minneapolis, Madison, St. Paul, and Anchorage – our parks and recreational facilities are open, accessible, and unfrozen all year. You can enjoy our parks and play most sports year round, and never have to shovel a path through the ice and snow.  And we don’t have many rain days, either.

Plus, they didn’t even mention the Orange County Great Park’s seven-acre North Lawn recreation area and the South Lawn’s soon-to-open four tournament-quality soccer fields, four full-size basketball courts, and new jogging and exercise trail.

Or Irvine’s Incredible Edible Park a 7.5 acre community garden, where volunteers  grow beans, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, oranges, potatoes and squash that are donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County to help feed thousands of hungry families.

So, thank you, NerdWallet, for rating Irvine among the 10 very best cities in America for parks and recreational activities.

But in my opinion, we’re number one.