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 funding.