Monday, July 12, 2010

Land Use and Community Health...

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin recently released information related to county health rankings.

This guest column in Daytona Beach News-Journal shares some interesting thoughts about that information and focuses on how land use policies can negatively affect community health:

Neighborhoods that have high levels of poverty often have more fast food, liquor, gun and tobacco stores than grocery stores that sell fresh fruits and vegetables. These neighborhoods also tend to lack parks or green space but have railyards or industrial parks, air or soil pollution, segregated housing, unsafe streets and crime. These conditions put neighbors at risk for homicide, asthma, substance abuse, heart disease, high blood pressure and mental stress, among others


Additionally, several of our cities have invested in Community Redevelopment Areas to try to improve neighborhood living conditions that combine mixed use, public transportation, affordable housing, open and green space and removal of blight. The city of Daytona Beach has also utilized Hope VI Revitalization funding from HUD to improve housing. All of these efforts to improve our community make me proud to be here. Little did all of us know that these efforts would also improve the health of our community.

The only thing I really disagree with is the last sentence above. "Little did all of us know" is really not true. Many people from across the professional spectrum have been noting for nearly 20 years that the Euclidean practice of separating almost all uses, including even compatible and complementary ones, was on the fast track toward unsustainability.

Hopefully, as more people realize this, the necessary amendments to our nation's land use codes can be made to turn back the sprawling tide of single-use development that has caused so many problems--including the health related ones that this article focuses on.

--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.

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