Saturday, November 20, 2010

Healthy Planning in California

In spite of the economic downturn, incorporating public health into the planning process is increasing in California. From Sacramento to San Diego, planners are slowly realizing that land use and other urban planning decisions are health policy decisions. Whether these actions, which include Health Elements in General Plans and using Health Impact Assessment to review development and other decisions, will focus only on relatively apolitical built environment issues (like walking and community gardens) or include more important political and social determinants of urban health equity -- such as poverty, residential segregation, tax policies, and building community power  - - is yet to be seen.  As I've noted in other blog entries and in my book, Toward the Healthy City, the impetus for this reconnection of planning and public health is coming from community-based organizations, with resources from foundations, not planning departments.  County health departments, especially those in San Francisco and Alameda, have been key leaders and will need to increase their efforts to bring along complacent planning agencies. An article in the The Sacramento Bee reviewed some of the efforts across the state, many of which are funded by The California Endowment's Healthy Communities Program:
http://www.sacbee.com/2010/11/14/3181550/urban-hip-and-healthycan-wellness.html

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