PLACE Program
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The built environment is made up of all the places we live, work, and play. It includes our streets, parks, schools, workplaces, homes, and public space. From temporary, short-term, active events like CicLAvia to long-range policies that ensure that all residents can safely and comfortably use public streets, there are a wide range of possibilities for changing how people interact with and are affected by the built environment. Here you’ll find links to the innovative work that organizations in California and around the country have done to improve health through changes to the built environment.

Organizations and Websites to Know


Active Living Research is a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that produces evidence-based research on the benefits of active school environments as well as walkable, bikeable communities, particularly for preventing childhood obesity. The Active Living Research website provides credible research, toolkits, webinars, and access to a network of experts in the field.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Healthy Community Design Initiative builds on existing evidence about how planning and public health affect one another by utilizing health impact assessment and describing community design best practices. The Healthy Community Design Initiative is home to resources that demonstrate the link between community design and public health in terms of physical activity, injury rates, healthy food access, social relationships, and other important public health issues.

Active Living by Design provides expertise to organizations that wish to increase routine physical activity and healthy eating through changes in community design. ALD currently provide funding and technical assistance to 25 diverse community partnerships across the United States with these goals. The website contains a comprehensive selection of toolkits, promising practices, white papers, and reports.

PolicyLink is a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity. One report by PolicyLink and the California Endowment, “Why Place Matters: Building the Movement for Healthy Communities” examines the relationship between socioeconomic and environmental conditions and the health of residents. This is just one of many reports that relate to social equity that is available for free download from the PolicyLink website.

Prevention Institute's website includes tools to support the creation, implementation, and evaluation of comprehensive prevention initiatives and effective coalitions. It also contains tools to further health equity. Check out their helpful tools here.

ChangeLab Solutions works to improve the health of communities by offering resources to policymakers and advocates, including toolkits, technical assistance, and reports on best practices.

The American Public Health Association (APHA)'s work spans a wide array of topic areas that relate to public policy: from social cohesion to community resilience to disasters to equitable access to safe, active transportation options. APHA offers fact sheets, communications toolkits, case studies, reports and links to useful websites about these issue areas (and more). The APHA has created a Transportation Toolkit with all of these resources specifically created for the intersection of transportation and health. It also offers an e-newsletter with updates about member organizations’ work in health and transportation.

The American Planning Association (APA) is the national professional organization for planners. The planning field is involved in a wide array of activities that affect the built and social environments, including creating plans and policies that impact the nature of neighborhoods, housing, and transportation.

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership is a network of “organizations, government agencies and professional groups working to set goals, share best practices, leverage infrastructure and program funding and advance policy change to help agencies that implement Safe Routes to School programs.” Safe Routes to School programs are implemented all across the country to promote walking and biking among school-age children, usually with funding from state or national government.


The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) works to create a safer bicycling environment in the County through direct advocacy with policymakers, offering safety classes for bicyclists, and training volunteers to conduct bicycle and pedestrian counts. LACBC also holds fun community-building events, like ‘Sunday Funday’ rides and its annual Los Angeles River Ride.

Los Angeles Walks is “a pedestrian advocacy group that makes walking safe, accessible and fun for all Angelenos.” Its work includes raising awareness of walking as an essential, enjoyable form of transportation, as well as advocating for pedestrian infrastructure.

CicLAvia is Los Angeles’ open streets event; every few months, it opens streets for walking, biking, playing, relaxing, and enjoying LA streets in new ways. Its rotating location means that new parts of Los Angeles are opened up for new activities.

Blogs and Other Resources

Streetsblog Los Angeles reports daily on the issues that affect bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit riders in the Los Angeles County region.

Planetizen is a public-interest information exchange for the urban planning, design, and development community. Planetizen publishes the latest news, opinion, jobs, and other features for the urban planning, design, and development community. It also hosts online courses that will interest novice planners, as well as several that may be used for certification maintenance credits for certified professionals.

The Dirt is the blog of the American Society of Landscape Architects. It features original articles written by landscape architects and other professionals involved in shaping the built and natural environments. Features include book reviews, news, and policy developments in the field of landscape architecture and planning.

NPR Cities, a series from National Public Radio, explores the particular challenges that cities and metropolitan areas face today. NPR Cities includes news articles, book reviews, and includes new websites and innovative tools for city lovers.

Designing Healthy Communities, a four-part series from PBS, features UCLA’s Dr. Richard Jackson and offers an in-depth look at the many ways that the built environment affects people’s chances to be healthy, as well as the ways that communities are meeting the challenge of creating healthier places.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Environment Atlas allows users to view, download, and print maps of the nation, by county, that illustrate a range of topics that relate to communities’ food environments. The atlas includes data about food choices, such as availability and cost of healthy foods; community indicators of health and well-being, such as obesity and diabetes rates; and community characteristics, such as rates of children or older adults who are food insecure in each county.

Data Sources

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's Health Assessment Program and Epidemiology Program publish reports that describe the prevalence of diseases and risk factors in the County, as well as reports about the status of different populations, such as women and children.

In 2024, the Health Assessment Unit (HAU) launched its latest Community Health Profiles. These profiles provide key data on over 100 indicators affecting health and wellbeing for 179 communities within Los Angeles County. The profiles emphasize the significant role local environments play in influencing health outcomes, with data intended to fuel improvements in community conditions and resident health.

The HAU also publishes the Los Angeles County Health Survey, a population-based telephone survey that provides information concerning the health of LA County residents. Survey data are used for assessing health-related needs of the population, for program planning and policy development, and for program evaluation. The relatively large sample size allows users to obtain health indicator data for large demographic subgroups and across geographic regions of the County, including Service Planning Areas and Health Districts.

The HAU is also responsible for the Key Health Indicators report, which describes health outcomes by Service Planning Area (SPA), the eight areas of the County by which public health services are planned and distributed. The website allows users to access to LA County Health Survey reports, subscribe to publications, and to access information about health and mortality in the County. The County of Los Angeles also maintains a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Data Portal, which provides access to GIS data created, maintained, licensed and stored by the County of Los Angeles.

Plan for a Healthy Los Angeles was developed as part of the update to the City of Los Angeles' General Plan. It offers neighborhood profiles and interactive maps for the City of Los Angeles that display many of the characteristics of the built and social environments that affect health outcomes, such as economic conditions, education, land use, transportation, and crime statistics.

California Data Sources
The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research offers local-level data by Service Planning Area (SPA) for health conditions, health behaviors, and social characteristics. This website is also home to AskCHIS, which is an interactive tool that allows users to query health data from the California Health Interview Survey at the SPA, county, and state level for California.

Healthy City is a California-based non-profit that provides local level data for health conditions, health behaviors, social and neighborhood characteristics - including fear of crime and frequency of physical activity. Healthy City also offers online tools for making maps and charts, as well as referrals to local services.

The California Household Travel Survey is a decennial study conducted by the state Department of Transportation on the population characteristics and travel behavior of California's residents.

National Data Sources
The National Household Travel Survey is conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and includes data about travel behavior, mode choice, and descriptive information about the population. The preceding link directs users to the survey's data sets, online analysis tools, and frequently requested tables.

Funding Opportunities


Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A)
The federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law established the Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) discretionary program through the US Department of Transportation with $5 billion in appropriated funds over 5 years, 2022-2026. The SS4A program funds regional, local, and Tribal initiatives through grants to prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries, including for new or updated Vision Zero Action Plans, as well as Action Plan implementation strategies, from supplemental planning and programs to infrastructure projects.

Active Transportation Program
Caltrans administers the Active Transportation Program (ATP), which combines several formerly separate funding sources for bicycling, walking, recreational trails, and Safe Routes to School. Both infrastructure and programs are eligible, either as stand alone elements or in combination. Objectives include increasing the use of active transportation, reducing injuries to people bicycling and walking, improving public health outcomes, and delivering benefits to disadvantaged communities.

HSIP (Highway Safety Improvement Program)
The Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) is a core Federal-aid program intended to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads through the implementation of infrastructure-related safety improvements. Administered by Caltrans, California's Local HSIP focuses on infrastructure projects with nationally recognized crash reduction factors, though non-infrastructure programs can be included to support infrastructure improvements. Projects must be identified based on crash experience, crash potential, crash rate, or other data-supported means.

Recreational Trails Program
The California Department of Parks and Recreation oversees the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), which has both motorized and non-motorized components. The non-motorized portion funds off-street bicycle paths, walking/hiking trails, and equestrian trails that connect neighborhoods with parks, natural areas, or other recreational resources. Trailside landscaping is eligible, but must serve a functional purpose (e.g., protecting the trail from erosion).

Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program
The Strategic Growth Council oversees the AHSC program, funded from AB 32 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) revenues. The program funds land-use, housing, transportation, and land preservation projects to support infill and compact development that reduces vehicle travel and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Other objectives include improving public health, serving disadvantaged communities, protecting agricultural land, and improving mobility and connectivity. Active transportation infrastructure and programs are eligible, but usually must be combined with other elements.

Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Grants
California’s Office of Traffic Safety provides grants for pedestrian and bicycle traffic safety education for people of all ages. Goals include reducing the number of traffic collisions and injuries -- both overall and among specific age groups -- as well as increasing bicycle helmet law compliance among children. More information is available at OTS’ website.

Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Planning Grants
Sustainable Transportation Planning grant funds are available from Caltrans for planning projects that improve mobility and connectivity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve safety, assist low-income communities suffering from environmental health disparities, and lead to the eventual implementation of transportation improvements.More information is available through the program website.

SCAG Sustainable Communities Program
The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) provides sustainability planning grants, which are opportunities for local planning efforts to become regional showcases for great planning. The program provides direct technical assistance to SCAG member jurisdictions to complete planning and policy efforts that enable implementation of the regional Sustainable Communities Strategy, Connect SoCal. This includes a call specific to active transportation projects. Visit the program site to learn more.

Proposition 1 and Proposition 68 Grant Programs
Proposition 1 is a State bond measure that funds projects that contribute to watershed health, ecosystem restoration, stormwater best management practices, and the creation of open space. Competitive Prop 1 grants for Ecosystem/Watershed Protection and Restoration are administered by various regional watershed conservancies, the largest of which are the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy. Urban parks can be competitive as long as they include strong water conservation elements and serve disadvantaged communities. The State Natural Resources Agency maintains a list of Prop 1 grant programs, and many conservancies have separate, non-Prop 1 grants of their own.

Proposition 68 - the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2018 – was approved by voters in November 2018. Funding from Prop 68 is intended to fund projects that plan, develop, and implement climate adaptation and resiliency projects, including those that create or rehabilitate state or local parks, provide flood protection, protect natural resources and water supply, and improve water quality.

Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program
The Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program (EEMP), administered by the State Natural Resources Agency, offers grants to local, state, and federal agencies and to nonprofit organizations for projects to mitigate the environmental impacts caused by new or modified transportation facilities. The program encourages projects that produce multiple benefits which reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase water use efficiency, reduce risks from climate change impacts, and demonstrate collaboration with local, state and community entities.

Land and Water Conservation Fund
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a program of the National Park Service that provides funds to state and local governments for planning, acquiring, and developing outdoor recreation areas and facilities. California’s LWCF program is administered by the State Department of Parks and Recreation. Priority development projects include trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, natural areas and cultural areas for recreational use. Property acquired or developed under the program must be retained in perpetuity for public outdoor recreation use.

Urban and Community Forestry Grants
The State Department of Fire and Forestry administers the Urban and Community Forestry grant program, which funds tree planting; urban forest planning and management; land acquisition and reclamation; biomass utilization projects; and projects that combine tree planting with one or more water or energy conservation measures. Applicants must demonstrate that their projects will contribute to greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction, and the program emphasizes projects that benefit disadvantaged communities. Grant awards can range from $150,000 to $1.5 million, depending on the category.

Measure A Countywide Competitive Grant Programs
Funded by Measure A, RPOSD’s competitive grant programs are designed to invest in eligible programmatic or capital projects consistent with or similar to those identified in the Parks Need Assessment and bridge the equity gap. More information is available at the District’s website.

Articles and Reports

CDC: Racial and ethnic minority pedestrians end up in emergency room more than others
A May 2024 CDC report shows racial and ethnic minority groups experience higher percentages of emergency department visits for traffic-related pedestrian injuries. Electronic health record data were used to examine over 300 million emergency department visits from January 2021 to December 2023 to better understand traffic-related pedestrian injuries across race, ethnicity, age, season, and region. Findings show that the percentage of visits for pedestrian injury was higher among people from racial and ethnic minority groups, people aged 15– 24 years, males, and during the autumn months. Visit CDC’s web page to learn more about pedestrian safety. Also see ideas for designing communities to increase physical activity and improve safety.

SafeTREC: Transportation and Health – Policy Interventions for Safer, Healthier People and Communities
This report provides policy recommendations in the following areas: policies that improve the environment and environmental health; policies that enhance community design and promote active transportation; policies that reduce motor vehicle-related injuries and fatalities. The report is authored by the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC)  at UC Berkeley and was made possible by a cooperative agreement between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Partnership for Prevention.

Active Transportation for America: A Case for Increased Federal Investment in Bicycling and Walking
Active Transportation for America makes the case and quantifies the national benefits—for the first time—that increased federal funding in bicycling and walking infrastructure would provide tens of billions of dollars in benefits to all Americans. By making active transportation a viable option for everyday travel, we will cost-effectively reduce oil dependence, climate pollution and obesity rates while providing more and better choices for getting around.

Creating Healthy Environments: Case Studies of Local Health Departments
What strategies, relationships, and roles are local health departments using to promote healthy built environments? Three case studies highlight the successes, challenges, and important lessons from three public health departments in California. First, the profile of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health describes how the PLACE Program became established and how the County supported the City of El Monte to add a Health Element to its General Plan. The case study on Shasta County examines how a modest grant and community involvement allowed the rural county to secure a Safe Routes to School grant. Shasta County also used this process to develop a method for evaluating how new development could affect health. Third, Contra Costa County’s Department of Public Health teamed up with the local transportation agency to educate engineers, planners, and residents about the benefits of traffic calming for health. Each report addresses the successes, challenges, and capacity-building steps involved in each County’s work to improve the health of its residents through the built environment.

Bicycle Friendly Communities: Lessons from LA County Guide
Many cities, organizations, and advocates in L.A. County are promoting and supporting bicycling as an effective response to obesity, physical inactivity and our reliance on the automobile. A number of bicycle-friendly initiatives have been started, and progress can be seen in communities throughout the county. The "Bicycle Friendly Communities: Lessons from LA County" guide was created to reinforce that progress and help more communities move toward bicycle-friendliness. It was written for anyone who wants to bring the benefits of bicycle-friendliness to his or her community – that is, for anyone who wants to use bicycling as a tool to make the built environment more people-focused, create conditions that support access to daily physical activity, and develop a more sustainable, livable, and healthy community.

How to Increase Bicycling for Daily Travel and Getting the Wheels Rolling These two reports from Active Living Research and Changelab Solutions, respectively, offer insight into the tools that planning and public health departments have at their disposal to increase bicycling in their communities. “How to Increase Bicycling for Daily Travel” focuses on the most effective strategies for encouraging bicycling, such as integrated with public transit service. “Getting the Wheels Rolling” is intended to help policymakers understand the best ways to use laws and policies for making change on the ground.

Housing and Health: New Opportunities for Dialogue and Action
This report, from ChangeLab Solutions, Center for Housing Policy, National Center for Healthy Housing, and Trust for America’s Health describes the relationship between housing policy and health. Housing conditions can affect physiological health in a straightforward ways through exposing residents to dangerous chemicals, like lead. Other attributes of housing that affect health include physical neighborhood characteristics, which affect walkability and access to healthy food, and neighborhood social characteristics, like poverty and crime. Beyond describing these issues, this concept paper makes recommendations for addressing these issues through policy.

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