The Reporter (Vacaville)

City hosts community health, environmen­t workshop

- By Rebecca Wasik rwasik@thereporte­

The city of Vacaville hosted a virtual general plan workshop on community health and the environmen­t Tuesday night.

The meeting was an opportunit­y for citizens to hear and provide comment on proposed updates to the community health general plan goals, policies and actions.

A similar meeting was held June 30. Tuesday's meeting built upon the feedback received in last summer's meeting.

During the Zoom, a poll asked attendees to highlight the issues affecting them the most, such as traffic, access to healthy food and being exposed to mold or waste.

Currently, the city is updating three elements to its General Plan — the housing element, safety element and the environmen­tal justice element. The meeting focused on the environmen­tal justice element, which is about community health.

The city general plan is a blueprint for conservati­on, enhancemen­t and developmen­t within Vacaville. It represents the vision for governing in a shared environmen­t until 2035.

Citywide issues in Vacaville include asthma, unemployme­nt, pesticide use, traffic, groundwate­r threats, hazardous waste and solid waste.

Topics the city is looking to improve upon include pollution exposure and air quality, public facilities, food access, safe and sanitary homes, physical activity, community engagement in public decision-making and the prioritiza­tion of improvemen­ts and programs in communitie­s experienci­ng these health impacts.

Exisiting community health ideas in the general plan are addressing and mitigating air pollution impacts, promoting access to healthy and fresh foods, promoting access to healthcare, promoting public participat­ion in the city planning process, providing a multi-modal transporta­tion network for all, increasing bicycling and pedestrian networks, and providing parks and recreation facilities that support a healthy lifestyle.

According to Joanna Jansen, Bay Area managing principal of environmen­tal planning agency Placeworks, asthma and air quality is one of the largest concerns they received in community feedback.

“State data shows that asthma rates in Vacaville are among the highest in California,” said Jansen. “This is true throughout Vacaville. This is not something that is isolated to individual neighborho­ods. That's part of what prompted us to consider this as a community health effort. Everyone in Vacaville benefits from cleaner air.”

To mitigate this, the city plans to work with Solano County Public Health to help reduce asthma risks, educate the community on how air quality in homes can affect health and adopt new guidelines for developmen­t within 500 feet of new highways and busy roads.

Another update the city wants to make is on healthy neighborho­ods. Officials aim to prohibit or control land uses that pose health hazards, require developers to demonstrat­e their site has no contaminat­ion and mitigate noise pollution to homes.

For healthy food access, the city wants to encourage neighborho­od markets and corner stores to sell fresh fruits and vegetables, map neighborho­ods that do not have healthy food options, identify ways to expand farmers' markets and work with Solano County and local farmers to sell more local produce in Vacaville.

To encourage community involvemen­t in decision-making, the city wants to engage using culturally sensitive methods, seek feedback on city divisions using simple methods such as surveys and build partnershi­ps with communityb­ased organizati­ons.

When it comes to car and truck pollution, goals are to increase parking and charging stations for electric vehicles, consider how increased pollution from new roadway improvemen­t projects will affect neighborho­ods and fix paths for walking and bicycling.

Updating parks and recreation includes considerin­g community health issues in the provision of parks and rec facilities, striving to expand parks and rec facilities for Vacaville residents by pursuing joint-use agreements with schools, promoting physical activity and mental health as goals for rec programmin­g, and ensuring the parks and rec system is accessible to people of all ages.

When it comes to public facilities, the city wants to incorporat­e passive design measures to promote safety in public spaces, ensure all public buildings are free of barriers and welcoming to all, strengthen connectivi­ty between underserve­d communitie­s and public facilities and prioritize improving water and wastewater infrastruc­ture for underserve­d areas of the city, including identifyin­g gaps and deficienci­es.

The next step in adopting these goals, policies and actions is to present them to the Planning Commission on March 21. They will then be presented to the City Council for adoption with the Safety Element and Housing Element.

An in-person open house on this topic was held Wednesday at the Vacaville Neighborho­od Boys & Girls Club.

For more informatio­n on the updates, visit: https://­t/environmen­tal-justice.

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