The Concord Naval Weapons Station is a 5,028-acre former US Navy weapons storage site that is to be redeveloped by the City of Concord, CA. With a coalition of groups representing affordable housing, environmental, labor, and community organizations, Human Impact Partners completed a HIA in January 2009 that analyzed some of the proposed uses of the site from a health perspective. After evaluating health implications of several proposed development plans being considered by the City, the HIA identified potentially negative impacts of the plans, such as insufficient affordable housing to match the wages of anticipated jobs created on the site. In addition to recommending more affordable housing, the HIA provided several other health-promoting recommendations such as maximizing residential density near a BART station to allow residents the greatest access to transit and other goods and services.
Impacts: Based on the HIA, HIP met with the city’s planning staff and consultants and submitted a comment letter to recommend changes to the Draft EIR. Our partners also used the HIA in their advocacy efforts and were able to win a plan that met a substantial number of their goals. The Final EIR approved by the City Council responded to some of the HIA’s recommendations, but changed little. The Concord City Council voted to move forward with the second most dense land use option proposed and has taken steps to ensure that a significant amount of affordable housing is built at the site. Major victories included having 40% of the new housing units be listed as affordable housing (including accommodations for the homeless), and provisions for 40% of employees to be hired locally with apprenticeship programs to help with on-the-job training. Other achievements involved adopted recommendations around development and transportation designs.
A brief summary, full HIA, and each section are available below.
A four-block area in South Central Los Angeles, CA is being rezoned from industrial to residential land use. The Los Angeles Chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has been working in the neighborhood for a number of years, and its members were interested in ensuring that future residential development addresses the health needs of the community. LA ACORN hired Human Impact Partners as a consultant to identify current needs based on existing health conditions, and to facilitate the creation of a comprehensive vision for the 29th Street Redevelopment that would improve health and quality of life for future residents and neighbors. As part of this work, Human Impact Partners engaged with Urban Housing Communities, the developer, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
Impacts: As a result of the HIA, the City Council representative in the area agreed to implement some of the HIA recommendations. The developer intends to reduce the cost of housing in the future phases of the development, since one of the findings of the HIA was that local income was lower than previous estimates used by the developer. The first phase of development on The Crossings began in July of 2010, and is now complete. All 450 of the housing units in the development have been categorized as affordable, a community center has been established on site, and there are plans to add a computer lab. Local organizations, together with residents, are still working on the establishment of a larger green space and addressing pedestrian safety issues. The partnership with the nearby school is ongoing. The HIA process brought unheard voices into the conversation, and the HIA is continuing to be used as a guidance document for action.
Human Impact Partners worked with Urban Ecology to assess their East Bay Greenway project in Oakland, CA. The HIA examined the benefits of the walking and biking trail (e.g., increased physical activity and social cohesion) and the potential barriers to its use (e.g., crime and safety).
Impacts: Urban Ecology used the HIA and its suggested mitigations to develop plans for the Greenway and to raise funding for the project. Ultimately, the HIA was included in final East Bay Greenway Concept Plan, and according to Urban Ecology’s former Executive Director, the HIA contributed to the success of the Plan. The Plan won the 2009 Focused Issue Planning Award from the American Planning Association's California Northern Section, and the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority provided grant funding for conducting the Environmental Impact Report. The final environmental review of the plan was approved in October 2012 and construction of the first ½ mile segment is slated to begin in April 2013.
With funding from the Centers for Disease Control, the University of California at Berkeley Health Impact Group has completed a public draft of a retrospective HIA of redevelopment of two public housing sites through the federal HOPE VI program. The HIA asked the question: how has redevelopment of public housing impacted the health of residents of two public housing sites in San Francisco? The HIA was done with the goal of including the results in the current planning for HOPE SF, San Francisco's program to redevelop additional public housing sites. HIA community partners included two neighborhood centers that serve public housing residents and are located on site, and the scope included examining health impacts related to housing and maintenance, social cohesion, crime and safety, displacement, programs and services, and healthy eating and active living. Human Impact Partners’ role was to co-coordinate the research team, work with community partners to solicit community participation, conduct community meetings, conduct research, and develop communications material. The HIA is now available. As part of the HIA these videos were also created:
Impacts: HIA authors presented findings to residents and management of public housing where the HIA was done. Based on HIA research and findings related to social cohesion, the multidisciplinary SF HOPE implementation team from San Francisco requested input from authors about how to incorporate social cohesion into future redevelopment. Service providers at each housing site also incorporated HIA findings into their program planning and grant proposals.
In 2008, along with Humboldt County, CA public health and planning agencies and the community organization Humboldt Partnership for Active Living, Human Impact Partners completed a HIA to provide a health perspective to the Humboldt County General Plan Update process. Humboldt County is currently engaged in a decision-making process to guide the county’s growth over the next 25 years and is considering three growth alternatives ranging from limiting growth in urban areas to sprawl. The HIA engaged many stakeholders in the county and identified one of the three alternatives as the healthiest in terms of housing, transportation, environmental stewardship, public infrastructure, public safety, social cohesion, and the economy. In addition, the HIA proposed mitigations of potential negative health outcomes associated with the three plans.
Impacts: While no final decision has been made regarding the General Plan Update, the HIA has significantly influenced the planning department’s transportation and housing proposals for the General Plan. The HIA initiated the public health department’s involvement in shaping General Plan proposals, as well as community engagement in the process. Because the HIA generated media attention and was presented in many forums across the County, public awareness about the connections between health and planning has increased. In addition, the HIA process led to the creation of a rural health indicator tool and healthy development checklist. Humboldt County recently passed an inclusionary zoning ordinance, which was one of the recommendations of the HIA. A case study documenting the HIA process was published in the journal Environmental Justice. In signing an Executive Order creating a Health In All Policies Task Force, Governor Schwarzenegger cited this HIA as a success story. For a brief summary of this project, please click here.
The full report and summaries are available below.
A case study documenting the HIA process, which was published in the journal Environmental Justice, can be accessed here. Dr. Ann Lindsay’s presentation to the Planning Commission on 3/20/2008 is available here. News stories about the Humboldt HIA are available in our Newsroom.
Interstate 710 is a vital transportation artery that links the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to the Southern California region and beyond. An Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement on a proposed expansion of the freeway is being prepared by Caltrans and their partners, and the draft EIR/EIS was recently released. At the request of the communities near the I-710, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Gateway Cities Council of Governments oversaw the conduct of an HIA, led and completed by HIP with input from many stakeholders. This is the largest transportation project on which an HIA has been completed in the United States. The HIA was submitted to Caltrans, which considered whether/how to incorporate it into the draft EIR/EIS. The full HIA report is available from Gateway Cities COG here. A version with a correction to the executive summary is available here. For a brief summary of this project, please click here.
Impacts: While we do not believe that the HIA report directly influenced the DEIR/DEIS, we believe that the HIA training and process were very successful in raising awareness among many community groups, government agencies, and elected officials about the health impacts of freeway projects. The training and process also brought together and strengthened relationships between organizations that then worked together to develop an alternative for the freeway expansion that better balances goods movement and health objectives. This alternative is now being considered by Caltrans in the environmental review process. Last, this HIA serves as an important case study of the inclusion of HIA as part of the environmental review process.
In 2007, Human Impact Partners worked with West Oakland residents and the non-profit developer East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) to maximize likely positive health impacts and minimize likely negative health impacts of a planned retail expansion and low-income senior housing development. This rapid HIA process addressed community concerns about air quality, noise, safety, and retail planning.
Impacts: As a result of the HIA, EBALDC installed a central ventilation system with air filters inside housing units and common spaces, and modified residential building design to orient the main entryway through a noise-buffered courtyard rather than near a freeway. Anecdotal evidence points to these mitigations positively affecting the lives of residents in terms of low noise levels and fewer respiratory incidences. The HIA has helped our partners become more conscious and explicit about health-focused solutions to their work, and has increased the conversation around health and planning among the community. This HIA also sparked additional HIA work in West Oakland and the formation of the West Oakland HIA Working Group.
In November 2010 the City of Long Beach proposed the plans for a new developments in Downtown Long Beach, CA. The proposed Downtown Plan includes the following elements: approximately 5,000 new residential units;1.5 million square feet of new office, civic, cultural, and similar spaces; 384,000 square feet of new retail; 96,000 square feet of space for restaurants; 800 new hotel rooms; and approximately 5,200 new jobs.
Impacts: Although residents and health advocates in Long Beach used the HIA findings to advocate for changes to the proposed Downtown Plan, the Long Beach City Council approved the Plan without taking into account the findings and recommendations in the HIA. Community stakeholders used the HIA findings in their local media campaigns. It is anticipated that the HIA findings will be presented at future Planning Commission and City Council hearings. Conducting the HIA garnered additional interest in bringing an analysis of health impacts into future decision-making processes in Long Beach and has opened the doors for connecting community partners with additional funders.
Human Impact Partners assisted the Merced Asthma Coalition, California Department of Public Health, the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program (CCROPP), and other partners in writing letters to the Board of Supervisors regarding the health outcomes associated with proposals for the County General Plan Update. Two options were being considered: one that focused development in existing urban areas, and another that would allow for the creation of new towns in the county.
Impacts: Though letters were sent to the Board of Supervisors and public comment favored the healthier option, decision-makers ultimately selected the development option that was not found by the HIA to be healthiest.
HIP’s letter documenting Merced County residents’ priority health issues is available here.
In 2008, Human Impact Partners and researchers at the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) released a HIA on the California Healthy Families, Healthy Workplaces Act, which would guarantee workers access to paid sick days. The California HIA was updated in 2009. Also in 2009, Human Impact Partners and SFDPH completed a HIA on the national paid sick days bill, the Healthy Families Act of 2009. Building off of this work, Human Impact Partners then partnered with groups in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Milwaukee to customize findings of the national report to local jurisdictions, and to collect locally relevant data to analyze the health impacts of paid sick days. For a brief summary of this project, please click here.
Impacts: The HIA changed dialogue about paid sick days from being represented as a labor issue to a public health issue. For example, the Chair of the California Assembly Labor Committee, referring specifically to the HIA, asked the opposition to the bill if they condoned the spread of disease through restaurant workers. In addition, extensive press coverage about paid sick days and swine flu often used public health language and findings. The Milwaukee initiative passed with 69% of the vote. The HIA generated interest around the country, including among labor groups and funders, in using HIAs to assess work and family issues.
Paid Sick Days HIA reports and summaries are available below.
In collaboration with TransForm and the Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO), HIP conducted a HIA on the Pittsburg Railroad Avenue Station Area Plan, a proposed Transit Oriented Development project in the San Francisco Bay Area. The plan proposed a new BART Station that would straddle State Route 4, as well as housing, retail, and light industry surrounding the new BART station. Through discussions with our partners and a focus group with community leaders, a set of research questions were developed relating to housing, livelihood, transportation access, noise, air quality, and, access to retail goods and public services. HIP then analyzed existing conditions related to these questions, assessed how the proposed project would impact health outcomes, and made recommendations to improve the health impacts of the project.
Impacts: The Station Area Plan has been approved by the City Council. The Planning Department used results from the HIA to save affordable housing sites originally in the plan that were facing opposition, required air quality and noise mitigation measures, and improved pedestrian and bicycling facilities. By informing the Planning Department and City Council about the health impacts of affordable housing, advocates were able to convince decision-makers to keep an affordable housing site near the proposed BART station. The HIA process also engaged community residents in data collection and partnered with a local health clinic. The HIA was a successful political tool, as it secured funding for housing and infrastructure improvements. The process improved city staff relationships and partnerships in the community.
A class on Health Impact Assessment at University of California, Berkeley conducted an HIA on the Port of Oakland, CA as a case study. HIP connected the students to community residents and other stakeholders in West Oakland. The class’ instructors released a draft of the HIA in April 2010.
Working through the Great Communities Collaborative and specifically with Urban Habitat and Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP), Human Impact Partners assessed sites for affordable housing to be included in a Specific Plan along the San Pablo Avenue Corridor in El Cerrito and Richmond, CA. For each of three potential locations, Human Impact Partners evaluated health assets (e.g., parks, trails, community center, schools, transit, retail completeness) and health liabilities (e.g., air quality, noise, collisions, concentrated poverty). The goal was to provide guidance for future site selection and to suggest mitigations to prevent adverse health impacts.
Impacts: A letter from our partners to City Council and city staff included health-based recommendations and is currently being considered.