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
Land use can influence health outcomes positively by
presenting opportunities for healthy behavior or negatively by
restricting access to healthy options. Key land-use
characteristics that affect health include:
Patterns of land use within a community.
The design and construction of spaces and buildings within a
The transportation systems that connect people to places.
Cities and counties make planning and land-use
decisions, both small and large, that can enhance health. This
section describes a number of ways that local officials can
integrate health concerns into the planning and land-use
decisions they regularly make.
In addition to the tools described below, look for Ideas for
Action – examples of strategies that local agencies can
employ on a range of issues to promote healthy neighborhoods.
Some of the key challenges that local officials may face
when working to improve the health of the built environment
include are: assessing needs, understanding special populations,
forging partnerships, identifying funding and resources and
reaching and engaging the public. This section addresses each of