Benefits to residents equal $500 million and Park District generates $200 million in economic activity annually
The East Bay Regional Park District (EBPRD) provides huge economic benefits, according to an independent study conducted by Economic & Planning Systems (EPS), a land use economics consulting firm based in Oakland. The study focuses on the value and impact of the Park District in the East Bay economy and quality of life.
Published a few weeks ago, the study revealed that the East Bay Regional Park District:
• Hosts 25 million visits a year. This is more than the attendance of the A’s, Raiders, Warriors, Giants, 49ers, Earthquakes, and Sharks combined.
• Provides a range of benefits to residents, businesses, and visitors that total about $500 million annually. This includes recreation, healthcare, property values, and other ecosystem services.
• Generates nearly $200 million in regional economic activity every year that would not happen without the District. This includes visitor spending and grant-funded capital investments, and the multiplier effects of both.
“The economic value of the East Bay Regional Park District is a significant and irreplaceable part of how the East Bay works,” said report author Teifion Rice-Evans of EPS. “Using the latest economic tools, including the United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the results of our analysis quantify the importance of the East Bay Regional Park District.”
“The economists looked at real estate, recreation, public health, visitor spending, capital projects, and many of the services that nature itself provides us humans,” said Robert E. Doyle, General Manager of the East Bay Regional Park District. “It’s clear from their findings that parks are more than just pretty places. They are essential and worthy of significant investment.”
“The parks belong to us - these are our public spaces,” said Steve Wood, Outdoor Programs & Outreach Market Manager for REI. “We vote for these places, we pay for them with property taxes and we receive an enormous benefit from that. We see study after study that shows that time spent in the outdoors is healthy. This is going to lower health costs; this is going to increase your quality of life. It’s going to improve your physical fitness and it’s an accessible opportunity for people in the Bay Area.”
“Latinos love being outdoors - it is part of our culture,” says Melissa Avery, a Latina mother and blogger who lives in Fremont. Avery blogs about her family outdoor adventures at www.chasquimom.com. She is also a regional coordinator for Latino Outdoors, an organization that connects the Latino community with organizations such as the East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD) and organizes guided walks and other activities.
As regional coordinator for Latino Outdoors, Alicia Cruz leads outings and connects communities with other organizations to take people to the parks. For her personal benefit, she also accesses EBRPD parks frequently.
“It's extremely valuable for me to have a place where I can breathe better and completely present physically, mentally and spiritually,” says Cruz. “I work in an office nine hours a day in a very demanding space. My well-being easy gets out of balance and I forget to practice self-care. Accessing a park near me instantly puts me back in a relaxing state. It truly is my healing place!”
The full report and a video about it can be found at www.ebparks.org/economics
The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest regional park system in the United States. With 120,000 acres and 65 parks currently under its stewardship, the Park District employs 1,000 people in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. www.ebparks.org