Report draws on recent, multi-sector summit of policymakers, community groups working to address health, safety through land use
A new report by the Healthy, Equitable, Active Land Use (HEALU) Network in Los Angeles explores what it means to approach land use with community safety in mind.
It draws on a September 29 summit of nearly 100 policymakers, community members, and representatives of community-based organizations working on transportation, parks, food policy, education, and more.
Like many cities across the country, Los Angeles’ neighborhoods bear the marks of uneven investment and development, with repercussions for health and safety. Too often, land use practices—both past and present—generate and reinforce health inequities, rather than redressing the challenges communities face. Low-income communities of color, in particular, experience barriers to health from the ways their neighborhoods are designed and land use decisions are made.
The role of land use in shaping community outcomes is particularly clear when it comes to violence and safety. Every day, people working across a wide range of sectors make decisions that shape how land is used, by whom, and for what purposes—and these decisions help determine whether communities will be safe or unsafe. Factors as diverse as transit options, parks and open spaces, access to economic and educational opportunities, availability of affordable housing, strength of social networks, and the way neighborhoods look and feel all can be marshalled in increasing the likelihood that communities will be safe and resilient. Decisions about how our communities are designed—like ‘greening’ formerly vacant lots, creating welcoming spaces for public gatherings, and expanding affordable public transit to bridge divides between neighborhoods—can all enhance community safety.
Bringing together the disciplines of land use and violence prevention holds tremendous potential to improve community safety through smart investments, cross-sector collaboration, and democratic engagement. We strongly believe that, if we work together, we can work through the land use system to address deep-rooted inequities and sow the seeds of a better future for all communities, free from violence and fear.
We encourage you to download the report and share it with your colleagues. Please also see our blog post on the report. As we continue to work in Los Angeles and beyond, we’ll keep you updated on opportunities to participate in future conversations and decision-making processes that connect land use, community safety, and health equity.
The HEALU Network was formed in response to structural barriers to equity in Los Angeles’ land use arena. Through training, capacity building, convening, and proactively advancing key strategies, HEALU works to ensure a healthier, more equitable land use system. Visit www.preventioninstitute.org or contact Rachel Bennett (RachelB@preventioninstitute.org) to get involved and learn more.