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Pogo Park, Richmond CA

Pogo Park Model

Pogo Park strives to improve the built environment by transforming city parks into safe, green, beautiful public spaces for children by hiring, training, and empowering community residents to make the changes themselves. In this way, Pogo Park sees neighborhood parks as a vehicle for the development of the entire community.

Neighborhood Investment

  • The Iron Triangle neighborhood the surrounds Elm Playlot is 18% Black, 11% Asian-American and 62% Latinx.
  • The median household Income in 2018 was $38,442 in the Iron Triangle but $64,575 for the entire City of Richmond, CA.
  • The percentage of families in the Iron Triangle living in poverty has declined from 31% in 2010 t0 19.5% in 2018.
  • From 2007 to 2019, there was a 102% increase in the number of Iron Triangle residents rating their neighborhood as a good or excellent place to live.
  • Pogo Park has brought $16.7M in capital improvements to the Iron Triangle neighborhood since 2010.

Community Staff

  • Pogo Park had created jobs and training opportunities for 150 residents
  • A spin-off enterprise by community-member staff called Pogo Park Products has secured over $820,000 in contracts with the city of Richmond and Contra Costa County.

“I’m glad we built this park. It came from the community – for the people, by the people, however you want to put it. It’s one place kids can come where it’s safe and they feel loved.”

— Carmen Lee, Park Supervisor


“I love the staff because they are always there and because so many parents now are at the park, I can take a break in the house without worrying about the kids. I like the bathrooms and lunch. My kids get lunch every day. The neighborhood crime has gone down because of Pogo Park. The staff and the neighbors are watching out for the park. And because it’s full of kids, the troublemakers stay away.”

— Yiness Tolbert, Mother of three and local resident

Community Services

  • Pogo Park is used as a hub to provide existing community programs to residents such as bookmobile, farmers’ market, community health vans. Pogo Park distributes over 9,500 meals to hungry children at Elm each year.
  • Pogo Park provides a community garden, peace circles, dance and exercise classes, art classes and haircuts to community members.
  • Secured $8.5M from the California Department of Parks and Recreation to expand the Harbour-8 Park located along the Richmond Greenway.
  • Partnered with local business called Scientific Art Studio, to deliver job training skills in design and construction to local residents.


  • 87% of Iron Triangle residents reported visiting a neighborhood park in the last year in 2019.
  • There was a 139% increase in Iron Triangle residents rating recreational opportunities in their neighborhood as good or excellent from 2009-2019.
  • 50% of Richmond residents rated their parks as good or excellent in 2019
  • 40% of Richmond residents rated recreation centers and programs as good or excellent in 2019.
  • There was a 163% increase in the percent of Iron Triangle residents rating that opportunities for walking were good or excellent from 2009-2019.*

*All data from the City of Richmond Community Survey, which is administered by the International City Management Association (ICMA).

Parks, People, and Place Building

Neighborhood Safety

A key concern of residents is safety and street-violence. Historically, the Iron Triangle has had a high number of gun homicides and assaults. However, over the last decade Richmond and the Iron Triangle have experienced a significant decrease in gun violence. We found that the work of Pogo Park is contributing to a greater sense of neighborhood safety among Iron Triangle residents.

In 2009, 76% of surveyed residents within the 1,500 foot Pogo Park Impact Zone said “there is a lot of crime near my home” while 57% of those further away agreed.

By 2019, only 55% of respondents within the 1,500 feet Pogo Park Impact Zone said “there was a lot of crime near my home.” This was a 27% decrease from 2009. Outside the Pogo Impact Zone, there was only a 17% decrease in respondents reporting there was a lot of crime near their home.

harbor 8 mural of person with outstretched arms

In 2009, 53% of respondents within the Pogo Park Impact Zone agreed with the statement, “crime on the streets near my home makes it unsafe to go for walks during the day” while only 36% of those outside the zone agreed.”

In 2019, only 34% of respondents within the Pogo Park Impact Zone agreed that crime on the streets made it unsafe to go on walks during the day. This was a 36% decrease from 2009. Outside the Impact Zone, there was a 36% increase between 2009 to 2019 in the percentage of residents that agreed with that statement.

harbor 8 park aerial view of two people walking

Since 2009, Richmond has experienced significant decreases in firearm homicides and non-fatal shootings. From 2010 to 2019, the Iron Triangle has experienced a decline in gun shootings with an injury.

In 2010, the Iron Triangle had 34 firearm shootings with an injury, and this number declined to only 8 in 2019.

wide angle shot of Elm Playlot

Social Connections

Having frequent and positive interactions and relationships with family and friends and a sense of belonging, is what researchers call ‘social connections.’ Positive social connections can overcome a sense of loneliness, depression, and improve self-esteem. Social connections can be measured by how frequently we interact with neighbors, whether we trust them and are willing to work with them on problem solving.

Health and medical research suggests that strong, positive social connections can help us address trauma and reduce stress. Social connections can release a hormone called oxytocin, which is a hormone that can counteract the anxiety and fear brought on by stress. Social connections can help lower our blood pressure, improve sleep, reduce fat in our bodies and help us control impulses and make better decisions. Frequent, positive, social connections can promote your health, reduce heart disease and prevent strokes, as much as quitting smoking, changing your diet and exercising regularly.

Neighborhood Opportunities

When barriers are removed from feeling safe and comfortable going outside, interacting with one’s neighbors and knowing your children will be safe playing outside, everyone’s health can be improved.

The RCS data reveals improved perceptions and higher utilization of recreational opportunities for residents of both the City of Richmond and the Iron Triangle.

There was a 67% increase in 2019 of Iron Triangle residents rating that their neighborhood was conducive to bicycling as compared to 2009.

There was a 157% increase in 2019 of Iron Triangle residents rating that it was easy to go for a walk in their neighborhood as compared to 2009.

There was a 143% increase in 2019 of Iron Triangle residents rating recreational opportunities in their neighborhood as good or excellent as compared to 2009.

Feature of the Yellow Brick Road road improvements

Future of Pogo Park

Project led by Professor Jason Corburn at Center for Global Healthy Cities.

Site built and designed by Marisa Asari and Neil Oliver.