Sustainable Urban Plans Might Harm Health in Bay Area, Study Finds
California's efforts to develop environmentally sustainable communities could harm the health of San Francisco Bay Area residents, according to an analysis by the Pacific Institute and air quality advocates, California Watch reports.
A 2008 state law (SB 375) requires regional agencies to establish urban development plans designed to reduce greenhouse gas. The Bay Area's plan could be finalized by 2013.
According to the analysis, about one-fourth of the Bay Area land that has been marked for development overlaps with communities with high health risks.
The analysis states, "Unless health-protective measures are incorporated into infill and transit-oriented development policies, these forms of development may actually exacerbate the adverse impacts of freight transport on community health and quality of life."
Resistance From Developers
The analysis has generated tension between public health advocates and urban developers, according to California Watch.
Gabriel Metcalf -- executive director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association -- said that there "are some difficult trade-offs between short-term respiratory health concerns and concerns related to the long-term habitability of our earth." Metcalf added, "[I]t will not be a good outcome if we unintentionally push new growth into the suburban fringe in the name of promoting public health."
Kate White -- executive director of Urban Land Institute San Francisco -- said that the report failed to consider all the air quality benefits of smart-growth developments and that health advocates should focus on the sources of pollution instead of targeting developers (Yeung, California Watch, 1/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.