Raimi + Associates is nationally known for its commitment to elevating public health in the community planning conversation. We view community health broadly and holistically, and seek to integrate it into all of our planning processes and projects. This means we examine issues like access to healthy food, pedestrian and bicycle access, and protection from hazards materials as well as socio-economic conditions, health disparities, climate change and adaptation, health care, and mental health. We understand how strategies to promote health and a sustainable built environment are intertwined—they provide co-benefits, but also require staff and community members to carefully consider potential tradeoffs.
Our public health practice is diverse. It includes stand-alone public health chapters for comprehensive plans, health impacts assessments (HIAs), community wellness surveys, training and education, and community health assessments. We also regularly publish, train, and speak throughout the country on the topic of healthy community planning throughout the country.
Our key service areas and deliverables for community planning are as follows:
A representation of our work is described below.
Delano is the second largest city in Kern County and surrounded by agricultural lands, industrial facilities, and two State prisons. Residents have strong ties to the Filipino and Latino cultures and are dedicated to raising healthy and happy families. The City was awarded a Smart Valley Places Grant to improve the health and environmental sustainability of Delano through the creation and implementation of a Health and Sustainability General Plan Element. Raimi + Associates is supporting the City in facilitating a Planning Task Force, organizing community workshop, conducted an existing conditions analysis, and writing the Element. Some of the community’s top priorities include reducing exposure to tobacco and second hand smoke, increasing access to healthy foods, improving walkability and park safety, and most importantly balancing the distribution of community resources and amenities between the eastside and westside of town.
Los Angeles is the second largest city in the United States. It has an unparalleled diversity of residents, neighborhoods, and urban environments, from the density of Downtown and Koreatown to the suburbs of the San Fernando Valley. The City recently received a Community Transformation Grant from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for the preparation of a Health and Wellness Chapter of the General Plan. Raimi + Associates was brought on board to direct this effort, working closely with the City Planning Department, the Mayor’s Office, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. R+A is also collaborating with elected officials, community based organizations, neighborhood councils, city departments, and local stakeholders. The primary task of the effort is to assess the City’s major health determinants and impacts, and to develop a framework for improving residents’ health outcomes and reducing health disparities. The Health and Wellness Chapter will create goals, policies, and programs that will be incorporated into the General Plan, with the ultimate goal of creating a healthy and vibrant city for all residents of the City of Los Angeles.
Santa Clara County, also known as the “Silicon Valley”, is located at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay Area and encompasses 1,312 square miles. The County is a major regional employment center and is home to 1.78 million people. The County includes coastal areas, cities, rural open space and agricultural lands, and suburban communities, and three major university campuses. The County’s population is as diverse as its physical landscape, with over 100 dialects and languages spoken in its various households.
With funding from the Health Trust Foundation and CDC’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work funding from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, Raimi + Associates is working as the prime consultant to create a General Plan Health Element for Santa Clara County. As the first in a series of General Plan Element updates being undertaken by the County’s Planning Department, the Health Element will provide a vision, tone, and set of priorities for the rest of the General Plan. The County’s Public Health and Planning Departments are both key partners in the process, which will allow for more effective interdepartmental coordination, and implementation.
The Health Element will address a number community health and wellness topics from the neighborhood- to regional-scale including environmental quality, healthy food systems, public safety and social networks, sustainable transportation, parks and recreation, health care and prevention, equity, healthy urban design, healthy housing, and sustainability. As part of the process, Raimi + Associates is facilitating numerous Wellness Advisory Committee Meetings and Public Community Workshops, conducting a community health survey, creating an interactive project website, mapping and analyzing existing health conditions, assessing policy alternatives, and working directly with community partners and other public agencies. This will result in a plan with realistic, innovative, and clear policies and implementation strategies for a healthier Santa Clara County.
Raimi + Associates is a sub-consultant to Alta Planning and Design as the to create a Pedestrian Action Plan for the City of Santa Monica. The success of the City's unique Downtown, beachfront, and neighborhood commercial districts is highly depend upon their walkability and the quality of the pedestrian environment. Walking and bicycling are also key components of Santa Monica’s integrated land use and transportation approach that promotes multi-modal access. The goal of the Pedestrian Action Plan is to create a complete, safe, healthy citywide pedestrian system incorporating planning, design, and programmatic implementation. R+A's multi-faceted role is to establish and implement community health criteria for the Pedestrian Plan, guide implementation with existing city policy, and working with Alta to outline and write the plan. The Plan will be guided and supported by Santa Monica’s award-winning 2010 Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE), an effort to which R+ A contributed planning and policy consulting. Once complete, the Pedestrian Action Plan will create a pedestrian network in Santa Monica that encourages and facilitates walking, removes existing barriers, expands accessibility, increases safety, and improves public health among all non-motorized travelers.
The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation (JCNI) partners with resident teams in an underinvested community called the “Diamond Neighborhoods” in Southeastern San Diego, California. With funding from the California Endowment and a Brownfields Area Wide Planning grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Raimi + Associates worked with JCNI, Diamond residents, and community organizations to create a Health Chapter for their Cultural Village Plan. The Plan will transform 52 unused, untended, and underutilized acres into “The Village at Market Creek”, a vibrant community center and cultural destination in San Diego.
Raimi + Associates documented existing health conditions; created an extensive Healthy Development Review Checklist; produced a customized bi-lingual English-Spanish community health survey, trained residents to administer the survey, and produced spatial and statistical analysis of the responses. Additionally, Raimi + Associates conducted environmental health and brownfields trainings for residents to understand the health impacts and alternatives for eight documented brownfields in the project area and to help them provide them with the tools to make informed decisions about their neighborhood’s development. All of this work was done in coordination with the Jacobs Center’s ambitious goals for sustainability, which include pursuing LEED for Neighborhood Development certification for future development in the Village at Market Creek.
On behalf of the State’s Public Health Department, Raimi + Associates worked with Transform and other partners around the state to develop a guidebook for promoting healthy communities through the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) process. RTPs are the regional blueprint for transportation spending in California as well as a key component of SB 375 implementation, and in total influence hundreds of billions of dollars in transportation spending. The Health in RTP’s guidebook de-mystifies the complicated RTP process and outlines best practices for promoting active transportation, improving air quality, and achieving better health outcomes by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Raimi + Associates is preparing a Community Health and Wellness Element for the City of Coachella’s General Plan. The effort is the centerpiece of the California Endowment’s ten-year Building Healthy Communities in the Eastern Coachella Valley. Coachella is a family-oriented dessert community about 28 miles east of Palm Springs in Riverside County. As one of the state’s fastest growing cities in the late 20th century, the Community Health and Wellness Element (and the general plan) will find ways to improve health and equity for residents within the context of the City’s suburban, rural, and agricultural character. R+A is working closely with the Riverside County Department of Public Health and numerous community-based organizations to expand the reach and depth of the project’s public outreach and involvement effort to the many different communities in Coachella including migrant farm workers, seniors, youth, and many low-income families. The bilingual Spanish-English public outreach and involvement program includes a Wellness Advisory Committee, stakeholder interviews, multiple community workshops, and a community outreach toolkit which will bring the outreach efforts directly to the community. The project will include a detailed and policy-relevant health existing conditions analysis, and the development of a standalone General Plan Element and implementation program.
Raimi + Associates (R+A), in collaboration with the Public Health Law & Policy (PHLP), was contracted by the City of El Monte to write and begin implementation of a Health and Wellness Element for the City’s General Plan. El Monte, which is 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles, is the ninth largest city in Los Angeles County and is the hub of the San Gabriel Valley. Approximately 125,000 people live in El Monte, and form a diverse, moderate income, working community. The City also is challenged by a number of key health issues including high rates of obesity, limited healthy food outlets, inadequate recreational opportunities and many barriers to walking and other active transportation opportunities. R+A and PHLP developed a Health and Wellness Element to provide the city with a comprehensive program to improve health and to adopt health policies and programs for the City to improve the health of City residents. In particular, the element focuses on active transportation choices throughout the City, access to healthy food, healthy lifestyles, health education efforts, and mitigating environmental hazards. R+A completed the Element in the fall of 2010 and continued working with the City the following spring to detailed Implementation Program for the Element.
Through the federal ARRA Communities Putting Prevention to Work program, SANDAG awarded the City of Encinitas a Healthy Communities Planning Grant to fund the creation of a stand-alone Public Health Element for the City’s General Plan. As part of this program, Raimi + Associates worked closely with the City to create a citywide, senior, and Safe Routes to School youth and school survey. This current, individual-level data informed issues definition and policy direction for the Element. Additionally Raimi + Associates conducted an extensive existing conditions analysis of spatial data, interviewed 14 key stakeholder, and planned and facilitated three Wellness Advisory Committee meetings and two citywide community health workshops. Raimi + Associates iteratively integrated all of the results from this quantitative and qualitative outreach and research into the planning process. Some of the topics of addressed in the Element include: healthy, local food access; safe and active transportation; complete neighborhoods; substance abuse and drunk driving; and air, water, and land pollution among others.
As a subconsultant to RBF Consulting, Raimi + Associates completed an assessment of health and sustainability in the City of Murrieta, addressing such issues as opportunities for physical activity, access to nutritious food, access to health care, transportation safety, land use, and the pedestrian environment. From this analysis Raimi + Associates created a stand-alone Healthy Community Element as well as health-supporting policies integrated into multiple elements of the General Plan. The process included a public workshop to explore connections between health and the built environment and facilitate resident input into the City’s healthy community policies. In July 2011, the Murrieta General Plan 2035, Climate Action Plan and EIR were all approved with a 4-0 vote by the City Council.
Raimi + Associates is working with Moule & Polyzoides to prepare both a Specific Plan for the Fulton Corridor of downtown Fresno, a form-based code, and a Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan for the neighborhoods in and around downtown Fresno. As an overarching input for the team’s work, Raimi + Associates completed a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of the Community Plan, with funding from the Local Government Commision. The HIA addresses issues such as access to healthy food, air quality and exposure to hazardous materials, opportunities for physical activity, quality of life and improved economic opportunities.
Raimi + Associates was an expert interviewee and focus group participant for the San Diego San Diego Health Outcomes Research Project, completed by Human Impact Partners for the San Diego Association of Governments and San Diego Health and Human Services Agency. HIP’s interviews and focus group resulted in comprehensive recommendations for improved health data collection and metrics for public agencies and their partners.
Raimi + Associates served as a technical advisor to Human Impact Partners in its development, with funding from the Resources Legacy Fund, of improved health and equity metrics that Metropolitan Planning Organizations can use in both Regional Transportation Plans and Sustainable Community Strategies completed for California Sentate Bill 375. Raimi + Associates was part of a statewide collaboration of public health experts, departments, and advocates as well as planning agencies and private-sector firms.
In coordination with Public Health Law and Policy, Raimi + Associates co-authored a guidebook for incorporating public health into cities’ long-term comprehensive plans. Since public health is strongly impacted by land use and transportation policy, the guidebook suggests model policies and actions that can be incorporated into these elements or presented on their own. Key topics addressed in the guidebook are active transportation and opportunities for physical activity, access to nutritious foods, access to parks and open space, access to health services, mental health, and protection from environmental hazards and pollutants. The report also provides guidance on analyzing existing public health conditions and suggests how health officers and planners can cooperate on the issue. A large portion of the guidebook is devoted to implementation tools and strategies that can be included in the comprehensive plan. These include traditional zoning or form-based zoning contexts, master plans and circulation design guidelines, project review and permitting and ways to finance health interventions. This toolkit is the most comprehensive guide available for communities seeking to improve health through planning, and it has provided guidance and model policies for multiple health planning documents throughout California and the United States.
Raimi + Associates was the lead consultant on a transit-oriented development plan for a six-mile segment of International Boulevard in east Oakland. As part of the project, Raimi + Associates analyzed existing health conditions in the study area and identified a series of health indicators that guided the development of the plan. Following preparation of the draft plan, Raimi + Associates prepared a Rapid Health Impact Assessment that qualitative assessed how the plan would impact the community, based on the health indicators. Due in part to the HIA, the project received awards from the Northern California and State APA.
In coordination with the L.A. County Department of Public Health and the Kaiser Foundation, Raimi + Associates created a Healthy Communities Element of the South Gate General Plan – one of the first health elements adopted anywhere in California. South Gate is an urban and predominantly Latino city located 10 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. It is home to over 100,000 people, has lower than average incomes, and includes stable neighborhoods as well as multiple corridors in transition. The South Gate Health Element addresses a broad array of topics including opportunities for physical activity through parks and active transportation, access to healthy food, transportation safety, exposure to environmental hazards, protection from crime, and mental health. Before developing policies and implementation actions for each of these areas, Raimi + Associates completed extensive research and mapping of existing health and built environment conditions throughout the City.
Raimi + Associates worked with the Riverside County Public Health Department to prepare a Healthy Community Element that will provide clear and consistent policies and implementation strategies to that support a healthy and active citizenry. The Healthy Community Element was prepared as part of the County General Plan Amendment project. The document focuses on the County’s role in making policy decisions that provide healthy lifestyle opportunities for the residents of Riverside County. It includes goals, policies and implementation actions that address topics such as walkability, access to parks and open space, air-quality and respiratory health, and injuries from traffic crashes.
In 2005 and 2006, Matt Raimi prepared a detailed study of the relationship between public health outcomes and the built environment. The report, prepared while Mr. Raimi was with another firm, focuses on five key public health topics – respiratory and cardiovascular health, fatal and non-fatal injuries, physical activity, social capital and mental health – among the general population. It also looks at the impact of each of these five areas on special populations including children, the elderly and people of color. The report presents a comprehensive picture of which elements of the built environment have the greatest positive impact on these public health outcomes. The study was the first to not only summarize the impact of the built environment on public health topics but also to recommend positive changes to the built environment based on public health. The findings of the study supported development of LEED for Neighborhood Development, the U.S. Green Building Council’s most recent rating system.
In partnership with CVAG, the Transportation and Land Use Collaborative (TLUC) obtained a Caltrans Community-Based Transportation Grant to educate and inform stakeholders in the Coachella Valley on the connection between health, smart growth and the built environment. TLUC hired Raimi + Associates to develop a toolkit of planning tools and techniques that can be used by local governments and other stakeholders in the Coachella Valley to improve public health outcomes. The document summarizes the current knowledge on the relationship between specific characteristics of the built environment and health and the presents a series of tools that can be used by planners, elected officials, appointed officials, and citizens to promote health outcomes.