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Throughout California, city and county officials make planning, policy and land-use decisions on a weekly basis.Typical issues that local officials might confront include the following:

  • Can downtown be revitalized by providing a mix of commercial, retail and residential uses?
  • Should a new town-home project be approved to replace a group of old industrial warehouses?
  • How can streets and sidewalks be designed so that people of varied ages and abilities can safely walk, bike or wheel to school, work and shopping?
  • What can be done so that farms and ranches near the community remain productive and economically viable?
  • How could buildings be constructed to conserve natural resources, maximize energy efficiency and create healthy indoor environmental quality for their occupants?

Local officials understand that the decisions they make affect their community’s development. Many also recognize that land-use decisions can have profound effects on residents’ health. A community’s physical design and mix of land uses can create barriers to healthy eating and physical activity. Land use and transportation facilities can expose some individuals to indoor and outdoor environmental pollutants. These in turn can contribute to increased rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and other serious health conditions.1

Local officials have many reasons to be concerned about the health of their community. Healthy residents are more actively engaged in community life. A healthy work force is attractive to current and potential employers who want to invest in the community. In addition, many local agencies — particularly counties — are responsible for serving the health, welfare and public safety needs of residents. Healthier residents reduce the pressure on tight local budgets to pay for health and social services, public safety, parks and recreation programs, transportation and transit and a number of other local services and facilities.


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