Complete Parks Playbook

Complete Parks Playbook

The Seven Elements of a Safe, Connected, and Healthy Parks System

Parks bring numerous social, environmental, and health benefits to a community. Every person in every neighborhood should be able to enjoy these benefits. Unfortunately, too many cities, counties, and neighborhoods are “park poor,” lacking adequate parks and green spaces. The residents of these places don’t have access to safe open spaces where they can play, exercise, and unwind after a long day.

Recognizing the important role parks play, many communities are now looking for ways to expand, improve, and maintain their parks systems. The Complete Parks Playbook can help jurisdictions assess a community’s parks system – the local or regional network of parks, green spaces, and open spaces – and determine areas in need of improvement as well as policy levers that can facilitate those improvements. This introductory resource can help decision makers and advocates develop a safe and accessible parks system that is integrated into a community’s built environment, hosts activities and programs, and addresses residents’ needs.

The Complete Parks Playbook provides an overview of the seven elements of a complete parks system. Each section focuses on an element, and includes both a successful community example of that element and a list of valuable resources. The companion white paper, Local Agency Strategies for Funding the Development and Maintenance of Parks and Recreation Facilities in California, provides details on the most promising mechanisms and tools for funding a complete parks system. We also offer an abbreviated version of this Playbook in Spanish (available for download below). 

Contact us to learn how your community can assess, improve, and expand your local parks system.

For other strategies to help residents be more physically active, check out our resources for creating active, accessible communities and our shared use publications.