Join Us on Thursday, September 19, at 5:30–6:30 p.m. for Public Outreach on the Universal Playground Project at Sweet Shade Neighborhood Park!

Please join us on Thursday, September 19, at 5:30–6:30 p.m. for the City’s public outreach opportunity regarding the Sweet Shade Ability Center at Sweet Shade Neighborhood Park. 

This event is the public’s first opportunity to provide input that will help guide the planning and design for this important Universal Playground project.

In July 2019, the City’s Disability Services program relocated its offices from City Hall to Sweet Shade Neighborhood Park. As a renovated facility, the Sweet Shade Ability Center provides a larger, more accessible, and inviting hub for the delivery of Disability Services activities to Irvine residents. To complement this use, the City proposes to develop the City’s first Universal Playground.

Universal playgrounds are designed to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible without the need for adaptation or specialized design, including theme-oriented playground equipment, site furnishings, and shade canopies that are well integrated with the existing park, leaving no child on the sidelines.

This public outreach event will include a staff-led tour of the existing playground and potential locations for integrating universal play elements or developing an adjacent universal playground. Planning staff will be present to answer questions about the project, and participants will be able to sign up and receive project updates.

Universal Playgrounds are designed to provide inclusive and meaningful play experiences for children of all ages and abilities. Your input will help the City of Irvine create a unique and meaningful play environment that meets universal developmental needs by providing opportunities for physical, cognitive, communicative, social/emotional, and sensory development for all children to the greatest extent possible.

I’m excited to join Irvine Community Services Commission Chair Lauren Johnson-Norris and other City officials who have been working for all of Irvine’s children at this important event.

Date: Thursday, September 19, 2019
Time: 5:30–6:30 p.m.
Location:Sweet Shade Ability Center at Sweet Shade Neighborhood Park, 15 Sweet Shade, Irvine CA 92606

See you there!

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!


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.