Beginning in June 2009, BARHII has taken advantage of a unique and significant opportunity to incorporate principles of health equity into land use and transportation planning through the development of the Bay Area’s first Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) mandated by Senate Bill 375. SB 375 requires regional planning processes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also requires land use, transportation and air quality agencies to work together, which had little precedent in previous work on the built environment.
BARHII participated in the overall public planning process and secured seats on the Policy Advisory Council to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) as well as several other SCS planning groups (Regional Equity Working Group , Ad Hoc Committee on SCS/RTP Performance Targets and Indicators, SCS Housing Methodology Committee, and the MTC Project Performance Assessment Technical Group). These work groups allow ongoing opportunities for BARHII members to provide guidance on how the process and decisions impact issues of health inequities in the region.
Along with other key health, social, and environmental justice allies, many health equity successes have been adopted into the planning process. Key partners include Urban Habitat, Public Advocates, the American Lung Association (ALA), and Regional Asthma Management Program (RAMP), and the 6 Wins for Social Equity Network. Examples of health equity gains include: adoption of ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets; performance targets aimed at increasing physical activity, improving air quality in the most impacted communities, and reducing the cost of combined transportation and housing costs; the requirement that all projects considered for the final plan undergo an equity analysis prior to inclusion; One Bay Area Grant Program, a grant package incentivizing local communities to increase their affordable housing production and develop more walkable and bikeable communities; the inclusion of an equity-maximizing scenario for study in the plan’s Environmental Impact Report; and the commitment to prioritize the region’s spending priorities for future Cap and Trade revenues for supporting benefits to disadvantaged communities and to adopt a “comprehensive strategy” with a focus on local transit operating support.
Beginning in December 2012 BARHII has expanded its climate change work to efforts focusing on adaptation planning for the Bay Area. BARHII has helped convene several gatherings of local health department representatives and is partnering with the Joint Policy Committee (JPC), the PHI Center for Climate Change, and the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Health Equity to develop a regional effort to prepare our region’s infrastructure, develop local health department capacity, and build the resiliency of our communities to respond to climate change impacts.