One of the most important responsibilities city and county
officials have is guiding the physical growth of their
communities through local planning. Planning covers a broad range
of activities including determining how land will be used, how to
provide infrastructure and services to those uses, and what the
built environment will look like. Local agencies are given land
use planning authority or police power to shape their communities
in both the federal and California constitutions. This is because
land use planning and community development have far reaching
impacts on the general health, safety, and welfare of residents.
Economic vitality, environmental health and quality of life are
all influenced by land use and community design decisions. The
impacts can be community wide such as infrastructure maintenance
costs, or they can affect individual quality of life such as
increased levels of child obesity. Understanding the complicated
laws and regulations that govern planning, and the co-benefits
and potential outcomes from planning decisions can help officials
make the planning decision that are right for their communities.
Local officials and staff play a vital role in the wellness,
health and safety of California’s children and families. To
address health and social disparities, cities are looking to
build upon innovative methods to maximize finite economic and
human resources. Specifically, agencies and staff are using
collective impact approaches to create healthier and more vibrant
communities. By leveraging collaboration for shared services,
joint use or proactive program planning, communities may achieve
results greater than they could achieve on their own.
The Institute for Local Government’s Healthy Neighborhoods program provides support and resources to protect and improve community health by integrating health considerations into their planning, land use and other decisions.
The resources are geared to strengthen the efforts of local officials, staff, planning and development professionals, and community residents in creating healthier communities.
Cities and counties can have an enormous impact in shaping the
physical environment of neighborhoods and the health and
well-being of their residents. The Land Use and Environment
component of the Sustainability program provides resources to
support local officials in their efforts to plan and develop
healthy communities that are socially, economically,
environmentally and fiscally sustainable. Sustainable Communities
Program Flier and Land Use Team Members information on the right.
This guide explains active transportation and the conditions in a
community that support safe walking and bicycling to schools and
other neighborhood destinations. It offers tools for local
governments to support active transportation. Because decisions
about transportation investments in California occur across an
array of agencies, the guide explains the regional and state
context within which local leaders can collaborate to create
safer walking and bicycling environments.
Local decisions about land use, community design and
transportation have a dramatic impact on the economic vitality
and health of our communities. These decisions also have a major
impact on greenhouse gas emissions and the air that we breathe.
Local leaders that engage residents in understanding this
connection and that champion well-designed communities with
healthier, more efficient transportation options, are better
positioned to partner with state and regional agencies to obtain