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Places, Spaces & People: How the Urban Environment Impacts Health in Boyle Heights and East LA

Places, Spaces & People: How the Urban Environment Impacts Health in Boyle Heights and East LA

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Published by Marco Ramirez
The health of a community is directly connected to its physical constructs, urban design and use of public and private spaces. One’s ability to access needed resources, purchase high quality, affordable food and safely participate in physical activity can determine your ability to live a vibrant, healthy life.
The health of a community is directly connected to its physical constructs, urban design and use of public and private spaces. One’s ability to access needed resources, purchase high quality, affordable food and safely participate in physical activity can determine your ability to live a vibrant, healthy life.

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Published by: Marco Ramirez on Sep 20, 2010
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08/14/2013

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Places, Spaces & People 
How tHe Urban environment impacts HealtHin boyle HeigHts anD east los angeles
 
alliance For a better commUnity1
The health of a community isdirectly connected to its physicalconstructs, urban design and use of public and private spaces. One’sability to access needed resources,purchase high quality, affordablefood and safely participate inphysical activity can determine yourability to live a vibrant, healthy life.One way to ensure the design of anarea supports healthy living andmeets the needs of the communityis to include the community’sresidents in the planning process.Community members can bestidentify those measures that woulddecrease fear, improve healthoutcomes, and support healthybehaviors in their community.The following report utilizes thisbest practice by engaging residentsand organizations in the evaluationand improvement of theircommunity.
 Acknowledgement 
th   uhd :
Vanessa Rodriguez,
 Alliance for a Better Community 
th   d  huh hu u f h cf ed.
 The author would lie to tha the residetsof East Los Ageles ad Boyle Heights fortheir feedbac ad participatio. Iadditio, we would lie to tha the mayorgaizatios that supported this project icludigthe project’s Advisory Wor Group:BieveidosEastma Elemetary School Healthy StartGareld High School Healthy StartGareld High School Uiversity Prep ProgramLorea Elemetary School Healthy StartProyecto PastoralViolece Itervetio ProgramLastly, we would lie to acowledge the guidacead support of Healthy City ad USC’s Program forEvirometal ad Regioal Equity i the executioof the Commuity Health Assessmet.
 
places, spaces & people
2
Foreword 
 Te nation is nally waking up to the critical connection between the builtenvironment and health. First Lady Michelle Obama, in her campaign to endchildhood obesity, specically stresses the importance of improving the builtenvironment in communities by providing them with outlets for healthy food andplaces where youth can safely play. Te federal government’s $400 millionNational Healthy Food Financing Initiative goes a step further by providingfunding to support the establishment and expansion of grocery stores in “fooddeserts” – under-resourced communities that often lack retail outlets, farmers’markets, and local gardens. Meanwhile, environmental justice groups in California andbeyond are highlighting the link between the health impacts of air pollution and climatechange on the one hand and communities’ truck traffic and land use patterns on the other.Los Angeles caught this “place matters” wave early. Since its establishment in the early 1990s, the Community Coalition of South LA has mobilized residents to close down over 200 liquor stores that contributed to neighborhood violence. Since 2001, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice has prepared hundreds of community members to speak up against the ravages of pollution from neighboring rail yards. Most recently in 2008, the L.A. City Council passed a one year ban on new fast food outlets in a 32 square mile area, hoping to incentivize healthier foodopportunities for over half a million, low-income residents. With this report, Alliance for a Better Community (ABC) is continuing this tradition of connecting place and health.It highlights the steps that are needed to alleviate the pressures of the built environment on the health of residents inBoyle Heights and East LA – communities ringed by polluting freeways, crisscrossed with hazardous industrialfacilities, and lacking basic amenities. Te ndings are both important and timely – and ABC makes a uniquecontribution because the community members themselves played a large role in informing the research; 230 residentsparticipated in interactive community mapping sessions, providing not only what they saw as problems, but also whatthey viewed as potential solutions. Te resulting policy ideas are both signicant and doable: they stress the importanceof schools as epicenters for healthy living and focus infrastructure improvements on creating buffer zones around bothschools and parks.Decisions affecting public health and urban planning can last decades, if not centuries. With the shifting sands of politics, the time for Boyle Heights and East LA to harness the national momentum that connects the builtenvironment with public health is now. Doing so could make a difference for generations to come.
- Manuel Pastor 
Professor of American Studies & Ethnicity Director,USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity

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