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Abstract

The public parkland system managed by the East Bay Regional Park District (East Bay Parks) is impressive in its geographic scope. It covers nearly 100,000 acres of land in Alameda and Contra Costa counties east of San Francisco, with 55 separate units comprising 14 Regional Parks, 19 Regional Preserves, 9 Regional Recreation Areas and 13 Regional Shorelines. The acreage under East Bay Parks’ jurisdiction constitutes the largest regional metropolitan regional park system in the United States. In selecting East Bay Parks as an initial focus of environmental justice inquiry, this article is mindful that East Bay Parks is only one among many public agencies that own and manage public parkland in the East Bay. Other parkland agencies operating in this region include the federal National Park Service, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, and the City of Oakland Office of Parks and Recreation. Thus, it may be appropriate to consider East Bay Parks in the context of these other regional park systems. For instance, to the extent these other regional park systems (such as city park systems) were in fact already providing low-income minority residents with ready and safe access to extensive parklands with strong naturalist elements, the existence of such access via these other park systems might affect environmental justice evaluations of East Bay Parks. An environmental justice review of these other park systems operating in the East Bay is beyond the scope of this article, but readers are encouraged to keep this broader context in mind in considering the analysis that follows.

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