While land-use planning is primarily a local responsibility, some issues related to land use and development transcend local boundaries. For example, California has established agencies to develop regional plans and programs to address transportation and air quality, two issues integrally related to public health. These agencies are governed by local officials selected by their peers to serve on agency boards.
Regional agencies work closely with the cities and counties in their region. As a consequence, local officials have a unique opportunity to raise health considerations in the regional planning process. Three of the most significant regional plans that affect the health of residents in local communities include:
- The regional transportation plan and sustainable communities strategy
- The regional air quality management plan
- The regional housing needs assessment
In an effort to reduce greenhouse gases from motor vehicle trips, recent legislation (SB 375, Steinberg, 2008) modified the process that regional agencies use to develop plans for transportation and housing.35
By understanding how regional plans are developed and the role they play in guiding programs and investments in the region, local officials can have an impact on issues related to health and the built environment that extend beyond the boundaries of their individual jurisdictions.
To Learn More
More information on the role regional planning plays in public health and how local officials and residents can participate in the regional planning process is available through the Institute for Local Government’s SB 375 Resource Center.