Abundant and Accessible Parks and Recreation

Where We Want to Be

In the future

People walking along Centenniel Way Trail
  • South San Francisco has a system of well-connected parks, open spaces, trails, and recreational facilities that serves all residents, employees and visitors and promotes public health, physical activity, use of active transportation.

  • Residents of all neighborhoods of the city have convenient access to well-maintained parks, open spaces, trails, and recreational facilities.

  • There are opportunities for people of all ages, abilities, ethnicities, and backgrounds to engage, participate, and enjoy South San Francisco’s parks and open spaces, recreational facilities and amenities, and recreational services.

  • The open space network contributes to a healthy community by sustaining a thriving urban forest, supporting urban biodiversity, and sequestering carbon.

  • Expanded recreational programming capacity effectively serves all segments of South San Francisco’s diverse community.

  • All South San Francisco children have access to affordable childcare and high-quality early childcare programs.

  • The City increases enrichment and youth development opportunities and increases participation for underserved children of color in South San Francisco.



01Performance Metric:

Park service ratio


  • 3 acres of improved parkland per 1,000 residents, 0.5 park acres per 1,000 employee
  • 1.5 acres of open space per 1,000 residents
  • 1.0 acres of joint use open space per 1,000 residents


02Performance Metric:

Park access


1 park, trail, open space, or privately-owned public open space within a 10-minute walk (1/2mile) of residents


03Performance Metric:

Miles of Trails


15 Miles of trails


04Performance Metric:

Program, facility, and maintenance staffing


0.75 full time and part time regular maintenance staff per 10 acres


Maintenance staff per 10 acres of park and open space land: 1 staff member

05Performance Metric:

Percent of Recreational Services Program utilization


75% Recreational Services section program utilization (as defined as the number of
participants divided by program capacity)


City to begin tracking data and provide in the future

how our plan

Gets Us There

A smiling man and a toddler

Parks and recreational facilities provide critical benefits to the residents of South San Francisco. They provide space for exercise, socialization, relaxation, enhance the visual appearance of the city, and make the city an enticing place to live and work. A well-connected trail and park system can help bridge geographic divides and create opportunity for more interaction among South San Francisco residents. As the city grows and the recreational needs of its residents evolve, the City will maintain existing spaces and services the community already enjoys while expanding the breadth of service of the City’s parks, trails, urban forests, and recreation services. The City will ensure parks and recreation services are provided equitably throughout the community and that the City conducts community engagement and outreach related to parks and recreation services in a transparent and equitable manner.

People excited sitting on the grass

Key issues and


South San Francisco maintains a variety of parks and open spaces for its residents, employees, and visitors to enjoy. The City also maintains a variety of recreational facilities across the city, offering a wide range of high-quality, highly utilized programs for residents of all ages. This provides an exciting opportunity to expand recreational programing and create new innovative park and open space types to serve the needs of existing and future residents. To meet this vision, accessibility, land availability, and funding issues create challenges for the City.

The Park and Recreation Department plays a fundamental role in creating healthy communities and enhancing our environments. Through parks and open space, recreational amenities, and services, the City supports good health for people of all ages, abilities, ages, ethnicities, and demographic backgrounds. These amenities and services can help to:

  • Reduce obesity and incidence of chronic disease
  • Provide a connection to nature which improves mental health
  • Increase access to healthy food options
  • Foster overall wellness and healthful habits
Park Classifications

As of 2021, 316 acres of developed parklands, open space, and joint use facilities are within the City limits. This includes improved parkland (131 acres), open space (108 acres), and joint use facilities (77 acres). The City retains joint use agreements with other public agencies like the South San Francisco Unified School District, PG&E, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and BART to allow residents access to additional improved parkland and open space.

The park and open space network in South San Francisco include a range of types that have different roles and functions in the community. Each park type provides a range of opportunities for active and passive recreation, and they are categorized into three broad types: Improved Parks, Open Spaces, and Joint Use Facilities.

Improved Parklands

  • Community parks serve a citywide population and typically include sports facilities, such as lighted fields, tennis and basketball courts, swimming pools, public art, and recreational buildings.
  • Neighborhood parks serve a smaller portion of the city than community parks and are usually within convenient walking and biking distance from residences. 
  • Mini parks are small play areas or green spaces. 
  • Linear parks are trails located along linear geographic features, including watercourses, shorelines, and public utility and transportation rights-of-way. 
  • Specialty parks provide specialized functions. 
  • Common green areas are publicly accessible parkland that feature community playgrounds, benches, open lawn areas, and patios. 

Open Spaces

  • Open spaces are used for passive recreation activities, including walking and hiking.

Joint Use Facilities

  • School joint use facilities are available for public use due to a 2008 Joint Use Agreement between the South San Francisco Unified School District (SSFUSD) and the City of South San Francisco. 
  • BART joint use facilities include a public access easement. 
  • Caltrain joint use facilities include a new Downtown Plaza / westside entry to the Caltrain Station.
  • PG&E joint use facilities include Irish Town Green which is a grass field with walking paths and benches. 
  • San Francisco Public Utilities Commission joint use facilities include Elkwood Park.

Within the improved parks and open space, there are about 11.5 miles of trails. Examples include Centennial Way, the Bay Trail, Sister Cities Park and those located in Sign Hill Park.

Map of improved parkland, open space, and joint use facilitiesMap of existing parks by typology

Recreation Facilities
Recreational Services
Service Standards & Funding
Park Access
Planned & Proposed Parks
People standing on a field of grass overlooking the city



Goal PR-1

Goal PR-1:

South San Francisco equitably provides improved parkland, recreational facilities, and services for all residents.


To advance distributional equity in the City’s improved parkland, recreational facilities, and services so that so all residents can engage in recreational, arts, and educational opportunities.
Policy PR-1.1: Prioritize disadvantaged community park and recreation.
Prioritize the delivery of improved parkland, recreational facilities, and services in disadvantaged communities as defined in the Community Health and Environmental Justice Element.
Policy PR-1.2: Stive to have all residents within a 10-minute walk access to parks.
Strive to have all residents within a 10-minute walk of an improved park.
Policy PR-1.3: Design parks and facilities to meet universal access standards.
Design parks and recreation facilities for universal access and multi-generational use, encouraging play by residents of all abilities and ages. Continue to improve existing parks and open spaces to accommodate the needs of users of all ages and abilities.
Policy PR-1.4: Ensure equitable distribution of park and recreation opportunities.
Ensure accessible public facilities and services are equitably distributed throughout the city and are provided in a timely manner to keep pace with new development.
  • Action PR-1.4.1: Provide targeted recreational services.
    Explore opportunities to provide and subsidize more recreational services to targeted populations (e.g., youth, older adults, persons with disabilities, and low-income populations).
Policy PR-1.5: Use underutilized spaces for recreational services.
Seek opportunities to use vacant and underutilized commercial and industrial buildings for recreational services, especially in disadvantaged communities.
Policy PR-1.6: Translate information for park and recreational programs.
When appropriate, send targeted promotions and notifications related to parks, recreation, and City services in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Tagalog.
Policy PR-1.7: Identify needs of underserved groups.
In partnership with community members, identify the needs of youth, seniors, the disabled, children with special needs, people who do not speak English as a first language, disadvantaged populations, and people in neighborhoods underserved by parks, recreation, trails, and public facilities, and ensure facilities and programming serves the needs of these groups.
Policy PR-1.8: Match resident needs with services.
Monitor demographics and needs of residents in neighborhoods throughout the city and match programming with neighborhood demographics and needs (e.g., more senior programming in neighborhoods with a substantial senior population) as part of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan process.
Policy PR-1.9: Support community events.
Continue to support and permit special events in parks organized by community organizations helping to ensure these are self-sufficient over time.
Goal PR-2
Goal PR-3
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Goal PR-11