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Healthy Design Workgroup

The Healthy Design Workgroup (HDW) is a collaboration between County departments to develop policies and practices for planning, designing, and building healthy community environments with the goal of constantly improving interdepartmental coordination.

The Healthy Design Workgroup was formed as the result of a 2012 Board Motion stating that it was the policy of the County to design public and private facilities in a manner that encourages pedestrian activity, bicycling, use of public transit and outdoor physical activities and that an interdepartmental Work Group should be convened to further these goals. The Healthy Design Workgroup brings together high-level representatives from the following departments:

Public Health Chief Information Office Chief Executive Office
Public Works Beaches and Harbors Agricultural Commissioner/Weights and Measures
Regional Planning Arts Commission Community Development Commission
Parks and Recreation Fire Internal Services Department/Office of Sustainability

HDW Grants Committee
To support the County Strategic Plan, the Grants Committee works to maximize effectiveness of grant development and implementation across departments, increase funding for healthy design plans and projects, and address health and mobility issues in high-need unincorporated County communities. Joint applications have the potential to create greater synergy for the County, reduce redundancy, increase competitiveness and increase the amount of grant funds awarded. The grants committee identifies potential grant opportunities, brainstorms and selects high priority projects, shares data across departments, and comments on draft applications. This process has proved to be highly effective, as joining forces allows multiple departments to harness the strengths and resources of each. Applications submitted further the goals of the County's General Plan, Community Climate Action Plan, Bicycle Master Plan, Community Park Master Plans, and Transit Oriented District Access Studies.

This innovative inter-departmental initiative is a commitment to teamwork, system-wide change, significant process and workflow improvements, and enhanced fiscal effectiveness.  Since 2013, the committee has submitted 23 grants requesting $37 million dollars for the development and implementation of infrastructure improvements and community plans that encourage outdoor physical activities, such as walking and biking, as well as parks- and transit-oriented developments. Of these, 14 grants have been awarded for $16.4 million, and approximately $9 million remain outstanding.

Gold Eagle Award 2015
The HDW Grants Committee, including staff from Public Health with Public Works, Parks & Recreation, Regional Planning, Arts Commission, and Internal Services, was recognized with the "Gold Eagle Award" from the County Quality and Productivity Commission for their work.

The Gold Eagle Award is the highest honor bestowed for departmental productivity and quality improvement efforts deserving recognition by the Board of Supervisors, Chief Executive Office, Quality and Productivity Commission, and the public.

HDW Achievements
Bicycle Parking Guidelines for County Facilities and the award of grant funds to purchase bicycle racks, which will ensure that County visitors and employees alike have appealing and safe places to park their bicycles.

Soil and Water Testing Considerations for Home and Community Gardens were guidelines developed to help county residents safely grow food for their own consumption in community gardens or on their own property

The inclusion of healthy design elements in the Community Development Commission's Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for affordable multi-family rental housing funds, resulting in all applicants proposing elements such as edible garden and landscapes, designated exercise rooms, designs for increased stairway use, and/or secure bike storage rooms.

2020 Work Plan
The following are projects HDW plans to work on in 2020. To view a key to the departmental abbreviations, click here.

Collaboration on Funding Opportunities
The HDW and its committees will continue to track and identify opportunities for interdepartmental collaboration on grant applications. Joint applications have the potential to create greater synergy and efficiency for the County, reduce redundancy, increase competitiveness and increase the amount of awards.

MSRC Bicycle Parking Grant Implementation
DPH, DPR, ISD, CEO, and BH will collaborate to implement bicycle parking and bicycle education programs at County facilities and for County employees per a Mobile Source Reduction Committee (MSRC) grant.

Climate Action Implementation
DPH, DRP, DPW, DPR, BH, FD, and ISD will help to implement the County's Community Climate Action Plan by convening departments to continue to work collaboratively on developing an urban heat island reduction plan.

Healthy Neighborhood Design Guidelines
DRP, DPW, FD, CDC, DPH, DPR, and BH will continue refining the Healthy Design Guidelines and will present to the Regional Planning Commission in 2016. The guidelines will ensure that the design of public and private facilities in unincorporated areas encourages walking, bicycling, outdoor physical activity, public transit, and access to healthy foods.

Interdepartmental Tree Coordination
DRP, DPW, DPR, BH, DPH, ISD, ACWM, and FD will develop management set of holistic strategies for preserving, maintaining, and expanding LA County's urban forest in low income, tree-poor neighborhoods, working in collaboration with community partners and youth leadership groups. Trees are an essential part of the urban environment and contribute positively to climate control, storm water collection, air quality, and the mental and physical health of the community.

Interdepartmental Project Coordination
All HDW departments will continue to collaborate on healthy design projects including providing technical advisory functions, coordinating joint outreach in unincorporated communities, and engaging in new collaborative healthy design projects. In 2016, the committee will work to enhance cross departmental collaboration in the community of Westmont-West Athens as multiple departments have projects underway in this community.

Prioritizing Projects for Grants
DPH, DPW, DRP, and DPR will develop an "equity scorecard," a set of tools which will prioritize projects for federal, state, and local grants, and help evaluate and ensure that equity is addressed in the implementation of the General Plan and distribution of resources.

Project Initiation and Project Feasibility
DPW, DRP, DPH, and DPR will develop a project initiation checklist to accompany a project feasibility document which ensure multiple DPW divisions are involved in the development of active transportation projects for various grant opportunities.

Collaboration on Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities Funding
CDC will work DPW, DRP, and DPH and outside partners to develop opportunities for the Strategic Growth Council's Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities (AHSC) annual funding. Supported by cap-and-trade revenues, the AHSC funds land-use, housing, transportation, and land preservation projects to support infill and compact development that reduces greenhouse gas ("GHG") emissions by improving mobility options.

HDW History
On January 23, 2012, the Board of Supervisors reviewed and approved in concept the Healthy Design Ordinance (HDO), developed to increase levels of physical activity and access to healthy foods in Los Angeles County unincorporated areas. In response to a motion on that date, the Board 1) declared that it is its intent and the policy of this County to encourage design of public and private facilities in a manner that encourages pedestrian activity, bicycling, use of public transit and outdoor physical activities, and 2) directed the Chief Executive Office to coordinate an interdepartmental effort consisting of Public Health, Public Works, Regional Planning, Parks and Recreation, Chief Information Office, Fire, and Beaches and Harbors to review the best practices recommendations in two documents - the Healthy Communities Report: Active Transportation Design Guidance and Recommendations and the Model Design Manual for Living Streets to determine which practices should be mandated or encouraged by the County; appropriate mechanisms for implementation; an implementation program; and potential funding mechanisms.

On January 24, 2013, the CEO reported to the Board of Supervisors on progress during 2012 of "Healthy Design Phase II," the interdepartmental effort mandated by the Board the previous year, now referred to as the HDW. At that time, leadership of the HDW was transferred from the CEO to the Department of Public Health (DPH). Since 2013, several additional departments have participated in the HDW, including the Arts Commission, Community Development Commission, Agricultural Commission/Weights and Measures, Sheriff's Department, and Internal Services Department/Office of Sustainability.

Initially, HDW staff were partially funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CTG grant. However, the CEO awarded PLACE with a new position to be funded through the County budget for the sole purpose of supporting the HDW and the new staff was hired in October 2015.

HDW Board Reports
The Healthy Design Workgroup has reported progress to the Board of Supervisors each year since its inception. Access the past Board Reports below:


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