The Reporter (Vacaville)
City hosts community health, environment workshop
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:// www.ci.vacaville.ca.us/government/community-development/environmental-justice.