Get Moving Kern's talking points for the Metropolitan Bakersfield General
Plan Update, May 2007 (download
a PDF version)
What is Get Moving Kern?
Get Moving Kern (GMK) is a community coalition made up of
individuals and organizations that want to improve the health of children
and adults in Kern County by promoting healthy eating and active living.
Why is GMK involved in the General Plan Update?
Our community is not designed for walking or biking. The
community design has taken exercise out of our lives. We spend more time
in our cars than walking. It is easier to buy sugary and salty snacks than
fresh fruits and vegetables. As a result, our health is suffering. Obesity
rates are at an all time high and continue to climb. 67% of adults in Kern
and 36.5% of children are overweight. Obesity is linked to heart disease,
diabetes, cancer and many other ailments. Education is important, but if
the environment does not support access to healthy foods and safe places
for physical activity, the education will not go far. We want environments
where the healthy choice is the easiest choice to make.
What is GMK proposing?
GMK is advocating for smart growth. There are ten
principles to smart growth and GMK has prioritized three of those elements
to advocate for inclusion in the General Plan. The three elements are
walkability, reduction in sprawl and redevelopment in existing areas,
including infill, and the use of Health Impact Assessments, which includes
air quality. Each of the three elements is described below.
- Walkable neighborhoods.
communities are desirable places to live, work, learn, worship and play.
Walkable neighborhoods make walking to perform daily activities the easy
choice. In addition, walkable neighborhoods promote social connectivity
and community relationships. Some examples of walkable communities are:
Compact, lively town center or many
compact villages around town.
Block lengths are short.
Mixed-land use, i.e. housing
above retail shops.
Public restrooms, drinking
fountains and sitting places are available.
Connectivity to neighborhoods with
well-maintained walkways, trails, bike paths and roadways.
Sidewalks are five feet wide or
wider and well-maintained with planting strips, bike lanes or on
street parking to provide a buffer to the street.
Trees are planted to provide
shade for sidewalks.
Bike lanes are found on most
Streets have good disability
access to and from each block in all directions
Streets are well lit and safe.
Limited use of cul de sacs. Cul
de sacs do not encourage walking as streets are isolated. Connected
streets with short blocks encourage walking.
Low speed narrow streets. People
drive slower when the streets are narrow, making it safer for
Neighborhood schools and parks are
situated where most children can walk or bike to school. Most
residents live within 1/4 mile of a park or other well-maintained
Land use and transportation.
- Heritage buildings and places are
- Expand public transportation.
- Most people live within ½ mile
(majority within ¼ mile) of 40% of services and products they need
on daily or weekly basis.
- Plenty of green and open space.
- Redevelopment of existing areas and development of infill to stop
the sprawl. Infill development
refers to the planning, design and construction of homes, stores,
workplaces and other facilities that make existing cities more livable
by utilizing vacant lots. Successful infill development channels
economic growth into existing urban and suburban communities and
conserves natural resources such as farm land at the periphery of the
city. The new housing on the corner of 21st and R Street in Bakersfield
is an excellent example of redevelopment for the benefit of the
community. Some other examples of redevelopment or infill development
Incentives for builders to develop
infill or redevelop dilapidated buildings.
New development on vacant lots.
Redevelopment of underused
buildings and sites.
Rehabilitation of historic
buildings for new uses.
Well-maintained parks and public
spaces that impart a sense of order and ownership
Narrow roads that calm traffic.
Streets that encourage walking and
biking, see walkability above.
- Use of Health Impact Assessments
What is a Health Impact Assessment (HIA)?
A Health Impact Assessment is a
tool that can be used to consider the impact that land use planning has
on health outcomes. It is a multidisciplinary approach that uses a
structured framework and a wide range of evidence or indicators. A
Health Impact Assessment is based on a broad model of health in which
economic, political, social, psychological, and environmental factors
determine population health.
Why conduct an HIA?
HIA can provide decision-makers a
broad understanding of health and a wide range of evidence.
Highlight potentially significant
Assess how a project, program,
policy or proposal will affect the most vulnerable.
Facilitates public participation in
Promote sustainable development –
both short and long term impacts are considered.
Encourage a greater appreciation of
public health in the policy-making process.
Some HIA questions to consider:
What are the potential health
consequences with new development, specifically how is air quality
affected and how will it impact health?
What are the health consequences
with urban refill and new development?
What elements of a neighborhood
design are most cost-effective in encouraging physical activity?
Are the health benefits and risks
distributed equitably or in a way that minimizes current disparities
in health risks and conditions with new development?
Safe & Healthy Communities Consulting conducted a one day
workshop designed specifically for public health agencies and their
community partners. Participants were introduced to a menu of approaches
and a “how to” for the public health sector to engage in and affect the
community design process.