Los Angeles is a city with many health disparities and where residents live often determines their health destiny. A recent study on health conditions in Los Angeles found that low-income communities such as South Los Angeles and Boyle Heights face disproportionate rates of obesity, asthma and violent crime. Geographic location is such an important determinant of health that a person born and raised in Watts can expect to die 12 years sooner than a person born and raised in Brentwood.
The city of Los Angeles’ new planning effort seeks to reduce the consistent gap in health outcomes by elevating “health equity” as a priority for the city. Los Angeles is among the first of cities nationwide to launch the creation of a Health and Wellness Chapter, a high-level policy vision of health that will be embedded in the City’s General Plan, which serves as the city’s planning constitution for long term management and development. Through this effort, the city is prioritizing community health and establishing policies to make Los Angeles a healthier place to live, work and play.
The Health and Wellness Chapter is an important recognition that health happens in communities. A Los Angeles resident who lives in quality housing in a safe community with good schools, open space and access to affordable, healthy food and good jobs has greater opportunities to thrive. Recently, LA’s Health and Wellness Chapter project team released the “Health Atlas”, which provides a data-driven snapshot of health in Los Angeles.
The Health Atlas [PDF | 163 MB]
articulates the baseline health conditions in the city and provides a context for understanding how demographic conditions, social and economic factors, the physical environment, access to health care, and health behaviors contribute to the health of Los Angeles residents. The report maps and analyzes over 100 health indicators and identifies where health issues are concentrated, illustrating the opportunity to address health through better community design.
The maps and data will help guide the creation of a new Health and Wellness Chapter for the general plan. It will also be used to target community outreach, with a focus on vulnerable groups and the areas with the greatest health disparities to include their needs in planning for healthier communities.
A draft of the Health and Wellness Chapter will be available for public review in early 2014.
Learn more about the
Health and Wellness Chapter
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Eric Yurkovich is a Senior Planner at Raimi + Associates, an organization dedicated to making communities more livable and environmentally sustainable. His work specializes in community planning, climate change policy, and spatial analysis. Raimi + Associates is collaborating with the City of Los Angeles on the Health and Wellness Chapter.