News // June 07, 2014

South Region Cities Share Best Practices for Healthy and Safe Communities

Over 70 community partners from cities, schools and community-based organizations attended the South Region Live Well San Diego Cities Forum on June 3, 2014. The main goal of the event was to provide opportunities for cities in the South Region to share best practices for built environment improvements that promote healthy habits such as physical activity, good nutrition, and tobacco prevention.

Barbara Jiménez, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency Central and South Region Deputy Director, kicked off the Forum with a warm welcome to the city government leaders and community partners in attendance.  National City, Coronado, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and City of San Diego – all recognized Live Well San Diego partner cities – were represented.  

Live Well San Diego is about collaborations – great partnerships – that allow us all to better meet the needs of our communities,” professed Jimenez.  “Our city mayors in the South Region, through their leadership and commitment to reducing the three behaviors (poor diet, lack of physical activity, and smoking) that contribute to more than 50 percent of deaths, are working together to develop innovative solutions for change.”

Following Jimenez’s introduction, County Supervisor Greg Cox unveiled a brochure of the South Region parks and trails.  Supervisor Cox continues to champion changes in the unincorporated areas of the South Region to improve access to recreational opportunities.

“It was great to see all the creative and innovative programs that South County cities and community-based organizations are doing to encourage people to adopt healthier lifestyles,” said Supervisor Cox. “We want everybody, particularly families, to go out and ride the Bayshore Bikeway, to go out and hike the trails in Otay Valley Regional Park.  We want people to take advantage of all the great resources we have.”

Brian Albright, Director of County of San Diego Parks and Recreation, presented the County parks and their amenities in depth, provided a lead-in to each city representative’s presentation about their unique contribution to the shared vision of healthy, safe environments.

Brad Raulston, Executive Director of Planning and Redevelopment for National City, presented an update on the pedestrian and bicycle master plans, the Las Palmas Park Vision Plan, Safe Routes to Schools, and the Sage Project in collaboration with San Diego State University for a corner store conversion.  Linda Rahn, Director of Recreation Services for the City of Coronado, described how Coronado is on its way to becoming a completely smoke-free city.  Coronado recently adopted an ordinance that prohibits smoking on public places such as sidewalks, parks and restaurant patios.  Coronado has also started a Bike Helmet Safety Campaign and provides recreation activities for residents of all ages. 

Kristi McClure, Director of Recreation for the City of Chula Vista, is working on a Healthy Chula Vista Action Plan that will outline strategies to foster wellness.  Hank Levien, Director of Public Works for the City of Imperial Beach, described the city’s focus on ecotourism, cycling and walkability.  He showcased two concepts that will provide cycling and safe routes to school – the Bikeway Village Project and the Elm Avenue Safe Routes to School.  Finally, Manuel Gonzalez, District Manager of Parks and Recreation for the City of San Diego, presented programs offered at recreation centers including free exercise classes and a summer lunch program.  The City of San Diego is also improving walkability infrastructure in Otay Mesa Road and Saturn Boulevard.

After the conclusion of their individual presentations, the city representatives engaged forum attendees in a conversation about future opportunities for collaboration.  Community partners and government officials shared ideas on how to work together to create long-term, sustainable policy, system and environmental changes to improve the lives of residents in their cities.

Read the story on KPBS >>

Read the story by Supervisor Cox >>