ENCINITAS — The recently opened Olympus Park brings the city of Encinitas one step closer to achieving the city’s yearslong “10-Minute Walk” parks advocacy campaign commitment.
According to The Trust for Public Land (TPL), more than 100 million Americans do not have access to parks within a 10-minute walking distance — a statistic local officials hoped to diminish with the opening of a 3.1-acre park on the corner of Piraeus and Olympus streets.
Mayor Catherine Blakespear committed to the campaign at 10:10 a.m. on October 10, 2017.
“Parks are an essential part of the community here in Encinitas,” Blakespear said in a 2017 release. “This campaign will help provide our residents with the opportunity to engage in activities that lead to a better quality of life that is close to home.”
According to TPL.org, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, 67% of Encinitas residents live within a 10-minute walk to a green space or park, while the national average is 55%. (The Encinitas figure will go up once Olympus Park is factored.) However, there are approximately 20,972 residents still living outside of a 10-minute walking distance.
In Encinitas, higher-income households are twice as likely to be located within 10 minutes of a park than low or middle-income households. North County cities of Carlsbad, Solana Beach, and Del Mar share similar disparities. In contrast, low-income Oceanside households are more likely to live closer to a park than their middle and high-income neighbors.
While Encinitas may be ahead of the national curve, the areas around San Dieguito Academy and the neighborhood east of Villa Cardiff Drive are just some of the locations lacking walkable recreational options, according to TPL.
The city still has a long way to go in joining other municipalities, such as San Francisco and Boston, that have already fulfilled their commitment to providing every resident with a park within a 10-minute walk.
“Olympus Park is the latest neighborhood park and will provide the community with a park that is in walking distance from residents’ homes,” said Patrick Piatt, Encinitas Senior Management Analyst. “We have no other parks planned at this time.”
Councilman Tony Kranz said that he wasn’t aware of Blakespear’s campaign pledge but expressed enthusiasm about the park’s opening.
“The land had been dedicated to the city 20 plus years ago and we owed it to that neighborhood to build a park,” said Kranz.
Kranz also joked that the park has almost become too popular, citing COVID-19 concerns that he says the city will address.
Olympus Park includes a botanical garden, playground, walking trails, and a zipline, among other features.