Public Health
Social Equity

Promote healthier, more socially connected communities.

The availability of open space to community residents is tied closely to issues of health and social equity. A significant portion of LA County—including many areas within the LA River basin—are confronted by an inequitable distribution of open space. In addition, these communities are disproportionately exposed to environmental burdens like poor air quality and other lifestyle challenges that the current physicality of the river amplifies.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, parks and recreation are essential to reducing the risk of childhood and adult obesity as well as chronic diseases like diabetes (the 5th leading cause of death in Los Angeles County).1 Areas offering greater opportunities for physical activity show a 21% decrease in the risk of diabetes.2 Because the LA River is an urban river that passes through 17 river adjacent cities, it represents a critical opportunity to bring meaningful open space to residents living throughout the region.

Improvements and changes to land uses that promote river restoration and equality can participate in presenting additional opportunities to more equitably enhance these areas (e.g., affordable housing) and increase the resiliency of the community and the environment.

Grants and Incentive Programs utilize the CalEnviroScreen to allocate funds

SB 535 requires that the carbon auction fund give at least 25 percent of the money to projects that will benefit disadvantaged communities. At least 10 percent of the funds from the auctions must be invested directly in these communities.


How the state based CalEnviroScreen Score is calculated

An analysis of Race/Ethnicity was published as a supplement to the CalEnviroScreen in order to ensure a wider adoption of the tool by State and Local Agencies that prohibit the inclusion of race and ethnicity.


Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Program Examples:

Community Benefit Programs

Potential Strategies to Integrate Community Benefits into the Transformation of the LA River:

  1. stand alone policies that utilize local hiring initiatives or workforce development programs that could increase the capacity of small or minority-owned businesses to participate in construction projects;
  2. baked-in community benefit strategies that includes community benefits into the business model of the LA River project. For instance, cities could engage local ratepayers by highlighting the multiple benefits that will be achieved through their investments, and by making a direct connection between stormwater infrastructure and local economic and community development; exponentially increasing impact
    contractual agreements that incorporate community benefits language into the contracts signed for infrastructure projects.

Examples of community benefit programs that could be used to ensure that the revitalization of the LA River benefits the lives of its neighborhoods and residents

Local Hiring

With the goal of increasing employment opportunities for local residents, cities have adopted local hire programs.  These programs encourage and in some cases require developers of construction projects to hire locally for skilled and unskilled labor.

Developers who receive financial assistance are required to sign local hiring agreements specifying the number of jobs or percentage of payroll that will filled with local residents.  Developers who do not receive financial assistance are encouraged to hire local residents in exchange for construction tax rebates.

Housing Affordability

Many cities have adopted Inclusionary Housing Ordinances that require some percentage (typically 15 percent to 20 percent) of all newly constructed residential units be sold or rented to low and moderate income households at affordable housing rates.

As an alternative compliance option most Ordinances allow developers to pay a fee in lieu of constructing the affordable units.  The in lieu fees are derived by calculating the differential between market rates of new housing units and the prices low and moderate income households can afford within the housing market where the new units are to be constructed.


1 Centers for Disease Control, Parks and Health: Aligning Incentives to Create Innovations in Chronic Disease Prevention (2014, April)

2 Paul Christine, M.P.H., University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor; Nancy Adler, Ph.D., San Francisco; June 29, 2015, JAMA Internal Medicine, online