Communities throughout the United States are facing rising levels of obesity, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, and other health issues resulting from a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, and exposure to poor air quality. Recent research has found that land use planning and neighborhood design have the potential to improve the overall health and quality of life of residents by incorporating uses and design features that encourage people to live active and healthy lifestyles. Neighborhoods with safe and pleasant pedestrian and bicycle networks that provide convenient access to parks, transit, and a mix of commercial and service uses generally encourage outdoor recreation and active transportation (i.e. walking and bicycling). In addition, neighborhoods that provide residents with convenient access to grocery stores, farmers markets, and/or community gardens generally encourage residents to eat healthier food. Land use planning and neighborhood design can also encourage social interaction, reduce crime, help seniors age in place, and minimize exposure to pollution.
The focus of the Community Health and Quality of Life Element is to foster the health and well-being of all Hayward residents. The Element contains goals and policies related to a variety of topics, including active living, access to healthy food, health care access, safe and cohesive neighborhoods, aging in place, environmental health, and parks, recreation, and open space.
Due to the broad and interdisciplinary nature of health issues, other elements of the General Plan contain goals and polices related to health and quality of life, including the Mobility Element, Land Use and Community Character Element, Economic Development Element, and Community Safety Element.