Open, Public, Green Spaces

By 2030, enhance and encourage diverse uses of and investment in Hawai‘i’s abundant public, open, and green spaces as well as cultural sites, and increase community-based partnerships and efforts for stewarding them.

Access to green and public spaces can enhance quality of life for communities. Open, public, and green spaces are each unique; however, they are defined as undeveloped land that is accessible to the general public and benefits the community as a whole. Equitable access to and distribution of open, public spaces can contribute to community well-being, connection, and resident satisfaction. Usability, access and quality of parks are crucial to measuring green spaces. While these aspects are captured in holistic measurements like the Trust for Public Land’s Parkscore, data is only available for Honolulu County and there are no similar metrics for neighbor islands. There is also a growing interest in quantifying the value of public space through recreation and leisure time to demonstrate the importance of continued investment. In the Hawai‘i context, this target includes green and blue spaces from mauka to makai, focusing on state and county beach and green parks, hiking trails, camping and community facilities, cultural sites, and other publicly owned and available spaces. Modes within public spaces can include walking, hiking, hunting, camping, swimming, paddling, sports, and cultural and place-based stewardship. Access to public space and amenities affect community health and a sense of belonging through facilitating access to physical activity, recreation, and gathering.
Park Acreage
While parks vary based on amenity, location and size, Hawai’i’s parks also include diverse characteristics ranging from beach parks, city parks, dog parks and recreation specific parks. To track accessibility of park provisions across the state, a universal metric for the target measures total acreage per capita. This metric is balanced with tracking urban density in the Land Use Impact target to show that as urban areas increase in density, open and green spaces are maintained.
State Parks and Historic Sites

Figure 1: The above chart details the total acreage of state parks and historic sites tracked over time.
Source: Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism

Figure 2This graph demonstrates availability of parks as proportion of county park acreage per capita for each of the four counties.
Source: Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism
Parks provide important spaces for exercise and connecting to nature for physical and mental well-being. Studies show that parks can invigorate local economies, encourage physical activity, and help bring neighborhoods together. The Trust for Public Land's ParkScore® index is a comprehensive rating system developed to measure how well U.S. cities are meeting the need for parks. Using an advanced GIS (Geographic Information System), ParkScore® provides in-depth data to guide local park improvement efforts and identifies which neighborhoods and demographics are underserved by parks and how many people are able to reach a park within a ten-minute walk. Cities can earn a maximum ParkScore® of 100.
Figure 3: The chart above details the Parkscore for Honolulu County and offers a snapshot of comprehensive metrics to track access and provisions of facilities. In addition to the total score of 53.8 out of a possible 100 points, the Parkscore also ranks Honolulu in comparison to all other major cities across the country. (Source: Trust for the Public Land: Honolulu Parkscore)
Census Blocks with Highest Levels of Park Need

Figure 4: The map breaks down a needs assessment based on census block to express areas within urban Honolulu with access to parks and highlights areas with the greatest need.
Source: Trust for Public Land
Budget and Money Invested in Parks and Recreation
Measuring the quality of green space provision also includes quantifying the quality of parks by tracking investment in upkeep and maintenance. To account for the varying communities across the four counties, tracks financial investment per resident for each county. For example, in 2016 Honolulu County allocated $65.08 per resident for the maintenance and operation of all county parks. By contrast, the city of San Francisco spends $133.31 per resident to maintain comparable park system with similar park acreage.
Dollars Spent per Resident and per County

Figure 5: shows the money invested per capita and by county on parks and recreation (Source: County Budgets)
Learn More and Make a Difference
To learn more on your local community parks, follow the links below for more information
SDG 1 - No Poverty
End poverty in all its forms everywhere
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Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
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Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
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Reduce inequality within and among countries
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Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
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Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
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Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies
SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals
Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development