The health effects of living in sprawling communities or in distressed city or rural areas have been the subject of much discussion in recent years. Studies and discussions at the national, state and local levels over the last 10 years have made a strong connection between the goal of improving the quality of life of a community’s residents and the emerging issues of public health and social well-being. A comprehensive plan that seeks to create healthy, complete and equitable communities provides an opportunity to address important aspects of these issues.
Complete Communities are walkable communities with a variety of supportive uses comprised of people from diverse age groups, backgrounds and incomes. They provide a variety of places to live and convenient access to jobs, multi-modal transportation options, community facilities, recreation, green space and access to healthy food. They reduce air pollution by reducing auto-dependency. Complete Communities, because they facilitate healthy, active living and equality of access to community services and infrastructure, are ideal places for growing up, and for growing old.
The 2001 Legacy Plan, to a limited extent, directly and indirectly addressed the issues of community health and social well-being. Implementation of specific recommendations in the chapters on growth management, transportation alternatives, open space, parks, greenways, environmental quality, community life and building better neighborhoods have also served to benefit the health and social well-being of the community, but these impacts have not generally been emphasized. The Legacy Update provides an opportunity to focus more directly on the creation of Complete Communities which facilitate healthy living, age-friendly communities, active aging and social equity.