SimCity Strategy Guides
Parks are a useful resource in SimCity as they increase happiness, reduce the negative outcome of unsatisfied shoppers, increase land value and wealth level, as well as helping to deal with pollution. This article covers using parks effectively in your city.
The following sections can be found in this article:
All parks increase the happiness value of residential buildings by 1. Where the areas of influence of multiple parks overlaps, the increases add up to create more happiness. Expanding a park by adding additional modules will increase happiness levels in the same way as adding another park of the same type as the added module.
Similarly, within the area of influence each medium and high wealth park will increase the underlying land value by one wealth level. High wealth parks have larger areas of influence for their size than medium wealth parks. As with happiness values, nearby parks will increase land value more where their area of influence overlaps. The zoned areas within their area of influence will develop buildings according to the resulting land value. Expanding a park by adding modules will increase it's area of influence by the same amount as you would have gained by placing the module as a separate park.
As far as their function of providing happiness goes, all parks are equally usable by all wealth levels. High wealth Sims are just as content to slum it at the BBQ pit as low wealth Sims are to class it up by hanging out at the Sculpture Garden.
Bigger isn't always better! Yes, larger parks do increase happiness and land value over a much wider area. The very largest like the soccer field and the amphitheatre will influence areas up to around 1km away. In that respect they are the most 'efficient' use of space, however updating huge areas of the city all to the same wealth level isn't necessarily a good idea unless you can provide jobs for all those Sims!
Industry in SimCity requires workers from all wealth levels in various proportions; higher tech industries will typically need more high and medium wealth workers compared to their low tech counterparts BUT they do still need all wealth levels. For that reason it is important to maintain residential areas to house all the different wealth groups along with commercial areas to provide them with shopping. In addition, it is a good idea to keep them within a reasonable distance of the factories that need them in order to avoid worker shortages and more traffic than necessary.
It is generally a difficult job maintaining these little neighborhoods effectively and in balance anyway, but it becomes almost impossible to create small and limited wealth zones with the bigger parks when their area of influence spread far beyond the area you want to cover. Fortunately there's a simple and obvious alternative... use a small park instead! The tiny parks are perfect for creating very specific areas of medium and high wealth. The basic park does not affect land value, making it a great option for low wealth residential areas as it provides happiness for the residents, without changing the land value and turning it into a medium wealth residential area that you don't necessarily need.
This complaint occurs when land value falls in a medium or high wealth area due to a new negative influence being placed in the area, or because existing parks that raised the land value originally, are no longer functioning very well due to too many homeless occupants. Check your population data first before adding parks. If your high wealth zones are degrading due to falling land value, but it turns out you have a shortage of medium wealth workers and shoppers, then your best course of action may be to do nothing (or bulldoze the complaining residences to speed things along). If the land value has fallen due to a new negative city building nearby, adding another park will counter-act this and stop the problem. If the nearby parks are full of homeless then you'll need to deal with your city's unemployment problem (homelessness is covered in the Zoning: Residential topic in some detail).
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I'm sure that at some point some of you have probably considered the notion that parks are probably easier than commercial areas and to some extent you're probably right. Parks DO make Sims happy, so long as they can get into the park (obviously a full park is just as useless as a shop with no goods). They are also pretty predictable, they need few workers and they don't raise complaints of their own in the way zoned buildings do. All-in-all there's a lot to be said for them.
One major downside of parks rather than commercial buildings is they cost money and don't generate tax revenue. They also don't provide freight receiving for industry (which means no industry or a lot of trade depots) and you'll still have unsatisfied shoppers. They might not be miserable unsatisfied shoppers that don't visit parks, but they will be unsatisfied nonetheless.
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I have covered the causes and solutions for homelessness as a general social problem in the Zoning: Residential article as it is rather too wide-ranging to be covered in the articles about parks.
Parks are, however, often the first places in your city to indicate that there is a problem with homelessness as you may well see Sims heading towards them, or messages like 'undesirables about' when selecting your city parks. Although parks will increase local land value, their effectiveness at this is reduced the larger the quantity of homeless are in 'residence' which can lead to zone degradation and abandonment. If your parks are overrun with homeless then their use to the local community has been severely reduced, and their effectiveness at raising land level compromised, at which point I think you may as well turn them off to save some money whilst you attempt to resolve the problem.
I'm pretty sure I once saw God in one of our local parks. He was mostly naked and drinking a can of Special Brew...
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