31 August 2010

HIA update from Human Impact Partners in San Francisco

Exciting updates about 3 projects

We started working on a Health Impact Assessment of the proposed Interstate-710 expansion as sub-contractors to ICF International and with funding from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).

The I-710 is a vital transportation artery that links the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to the rest of Southern California and beyond. The expansion of this stretch of freeway, passing through 15 cities and unincorporated areas in Los Angeles County, is proposed for the purposes of: improving air quality and public health; improving traffic safety; addressing design deficiencies; addressing projected traffic volumes; and addressing projected growth in population, employment, and economic activities related to goods movement. Community groups and government agencies have expressed concerns about the potential health impacts of the expansion and, as a result, Metro decided to conduct this HIA.

Separately, we’ve been working with the Environmental Protection Agency on developing a scope for HIAs on capacity expansion projects at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The scope is now publicly available and HIP and the EPA are taking comments on it. The EPA is hosting a call in early September to discuss the scope and potential next steps with stakeholders, with the goal of encouraging HIAs on future port plans and projects.

We’re also starting a HIA on the Lake Merritt BART Station Specific Plan in Oakland. Public Health Law and Policy received a grant from the Federal Transit Administration to work with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Asian Health Services, Transform and us on this project, which focuses on transit-oriented development (TOD) near this under-utilized BART station. The intent of the grant is to create a toolkit for incorporating health in transportation planning, with HIA as the main tool by which to do so.

Technical Assistance Projects

We are currently providing training and technical assistance to 15 groups around the country. Nine of these projects are funded by the Health Impact Project (a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts). While not all nine are publicly announced yet, five are:
  • CA Department of Public Health on a HIA of a proposed state cap and trade policy
  • The faith-based organization, ISAIAH, on a HIA of a proposed light rail zoning plan in St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Kohala Center in Hawaii on a HIA of a proposed agricultural plan
  • The New Hampshire Center for Public Policy on a HIA of proposed state budget policies
  • Texas Southern University on a HIA of proposed light rail transit-oriented development plans in Houston
Another four training and technical assistance projects, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, are a collaboration with the Place Matters Initiative, whose place-based teams are designing and implementing strategies to address the social determinants of health. We are working with teams focused in Albuquerque, Detroit, Oakland and New Orleans. While we are currently helping each team choose a topic for their HIA, it looks like they will potentially be working on a range of topics from pay equity to education policy to land use.

In addition to these projects, we continue to support state health departments in California, Oregon, and Wisconsin as they work to build HIA capacity at the state and local levels.

As you can see from the amazing range of HIA topics, locations, and types of organizations involved, HIA is in a stage of very rapid expansion.

New Website

Last, but not least, we’re excited to officially launch our new website – www.humanimpact.org. We restructured the website for clarity and to provide additional resources to the HIA community. We’ve tried to make sure that everything previously available (e.g., our searchable EvidenceBase that reviews the evidence for links between land use and health outcomes - http://www.humanimpact.org/evidencebase) is still available and we’ve tried to include new resources (e.g., a document library that contains our resources for conducting Health Impact Assessment (HIA) - http://www.humanimpact.org/doc-lib). If you can’t find something you’re looking for, please let us know – our goal is to make all our work and tools available to anyone interested.

To do all this, we’ve expanded our team. Casey Tsui recently came on board as a Research Associate. We’ve also had a fantastic intern, Lisa Chen, working with us.

As always, thanks for all your support and continued collaboration!

The Human Impact Partners Team
(Casey, Celia, Jen, Jonathan, Kim, Lili, and Marnie)