Pasadena Healthy Parks

June 2021   Pasadena


  • City of Pasadena


  • Amy Morris, Land & Water Connections Consulting KC, PM BF, DPM Nour as engagement lead Ucha and Kari as planning and design support


  • APA Sustainable Communities Division, Award for Excellence in Sustainability - Parks and Open Space Plan

Utilizing extensive community engagement and rigorous analysis of scientific data, the Healthy Parks Plan aims to identify the best opportunities for new parks, park improvements, park programming, and park funding and maintenance. The plan identifies the most effective ways to improve the park system to increase community health, reduce environmental risks such as flooding and excessive heat, and improve equitable access to parks for those who need it most.

Key Points

Community Engagement

The central goal of engagement was to reduce barriers to participation and ensure that the perspectives of underrepresented and underserved community members were heard, respected, and incorporated into recommendations. Asakura Robinson developed thoughtful concepts to bridge the gap between existing community divisions in order to help connect socioeconomically and racially diverse communities.


The Pasadena Healthy Parks Plan ensured that Pasadena thought critically on where and how to make parks accessible and user friendly for residents who need them the most. In addition to the equity-driven suitability analysis, a thorough park assessment of previously chosen public parks was conducted to identify needed quality improvements, as well as identifying top areas to invest in for new parks.


The development of evidence-based Healthy Parks Design Guidelines will help the Pasadena Parks and Recreation Department to invest in the types of infrastructure in specific parks that responds directly to the needs of those neighborhoods - whether related to mitigating environmental risks, reducing barriers to access, providing equitable access to opportunities for active living, reducing urban heat island, or mitigating major health disparities.

Asakura Robinson joined Land & Water Connections Consulting to develop guidelines for the City of Pasadena to think more innovatively about what their parks offer to residents. This involved an in depth look at existing park services and amenities, and how parks should be designed to take on water, improve resilience during storms, and support community health and wellbeing.

Asakura Robinson developed an extensive mapping analysis process that considered 60 different variables across 4 indices, including environmental vulnerability, socioeconomic vulnerability, community health, and park access. From there, a finance feasibility assessment, maintenance plan, and recommendations for the overall park system were carried out. Not only is it important to identify where to invest, but there is substantial scientific evidence showing that specific investments in infrastructure and programming have direct health impacts.

Asakura Robinson developed the Healthy Parks Design Guidelines to provide guiding principles for what makes a park “healthy” and to inform the planning and design of projects locally and regionally. Community engagement has taken place throughout the entire project. The “equity-driven” engagement means that partners have focused on minimizing barriers to participation and have paid particular attention to reaching underrepresented and underserved residents.

Community engagement has been conducted in both Spanish and English and has included community workshops, interviews, focus groups, intercept surveys, “speak-outs” or mini-workshops at community events, an online survey, and a demographically representative telephone poll. The guiding ethos of engagement has been “meeting people where they are.” The plan is intended to empower community groups to be active stewards of local parks by creating an iterative process, i.e. community feedback has informed how results are interpreted and what implementation is recommended.

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