American Lung Association in California Calls for Healthy Growth, Adoption of Strong Sustainable Communities Strategies

The Lung Association Applauds San Joaquin Valley Healthy Growth Leaders

Fresno, CA (June 19, 2014)

Today and over the next two weeks, elected officials who are members of county Councils of Governments (COGs) across the San Joaquin Valley will vote to adopt their first-ever Sustainable Communities Strategies. These blueprints for how Valley communities will grow are being adopted under California’s landmark “Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act,” commonly known as SB 375. The American Lung Association in California is promoting the adoption of strong plans to improve air quality and health, increase mobility and quality of life in Valley communities.  The Lung Association is joined in this effort by Healthy Growth Leaders, elected officials from across the Valley who want to help lead this new movement.  The first group of San Joaquin Valley Healthy Growth Leaders includes:  Jose Gurrola, Jr. (Arvin), Bob Smith (Bakersfield), Oliver Baines (Fresno), Moses Zapien (Stockton) and Orchel Krier (Taft).

“The Valley Sustainable Communities Strategies are roadmaps for whether our communities grow healthier or remain overly burdened by pollution-related diseases and chronic illnesses that reduce our quality of life,” said Dr. Robert Sawyer, PhD, Chair of the Advocacy Committee of the Board of the American Lung Association in California. “Valley residents know better than most that if we want clean air, we need healthier transportation options and these plans are an important way to help make that happen.”

From Kern County to San Joaquin County, local leaders are supporting the American Lung Association in California’s Healthy Growth Leaders campaign to make revitalized communities and cleaner air a reality.  Healthy Growth Leaders from across the region are committed to improving air quality and public health through more coordinated land use and transportation planning; supporting projects designed to improve and expand safe, practical infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians, promoting expanded transit operations; and promoting infill, transit oriented development and increased access to mass transit.  All of this will work together to renew our existing downtowns and neighborhoods.

“I joined the Healthy Growth Leaders campaign because I know the people that I represent want better health, cleaner air and safer opportunities for their kids to be active,” said Stockton City Councilmember Moses Zapien. “Every community can grow healthier, and we are laying out a vision for how we can get there.”

In March, the American Lung Association in California published a series of “Public Health Crossroads” papers on the health benefits of building a future of more walkable, interconnected communities throughout the Valley. These papers found that by 2035, the target date for the Sustainable Communities Strategies, the reductions in traffic pollution achieved by smarter growth could avoid $416 million in health costs and lost work days, and 22,800 fewer asthma exacerbations and other respiratory impacts.

“As a physician, I know we need healthier communities to help cut pollution, asthma rates and the terrible burdens of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), cancers and other chronic illnesses while also protecting our climate,” said Dr. Praveen Buddiga, volunteer physician with the American Lung Association in California, and an allergy/asthma specialist with Baz Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Center. “More than anything, my patients need to be able to live healthy lifestyles in their neighborhoods, especially in our most disadvantaged neighborhoods.”

To achieve healthier communities, the American Lung Association in California supports planning that includes:

  • Strong Sustainable Communities strategies that represent a real departure from business as usual planning and a commitment for ongoing improvements to these plans.
  • Near term investments that bring healthier walking, biking and transit choices online as soon as possible, and in our most disadvantaged communities.
  • Priority for growth and transportation investments to serve existing downtowns and community cores through infill, transit oriented development and access to high quality transit.
  • Innovative travel options like Bus Rapid Transit programs operating in Stockton and planned for Fresno, as well as zero emission buses now in use in Stockton by the San Joaquin County RTD.
  • A focus on “fix it first” road maintenance investments, rather than expanding new roads.
  • More efficient and zero- and near-zero emission freight strategies to curb diesel pollution.
  • Invest in planning tools such as the state’s UrbanFootprint that will be able to estimate health impacts and benefits of future planning.

As we move beyond the adoption of the first round of sustainable communities strategies, the American Lung Association in California will work with Healthy Growth Leaders to continue the important movement that has begun around the Valley to build a healthier future.

For more information on the American Lung Association in California Healthy Growth Leaders Campaign, please click here.