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Policies for Livable, Active Communities and Environments

    

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City of El Monte

El Monte Pushes Healthy Agenda with Change to General Plan
On June 20th, 2011 the El Monte City Council unanimously approved the Health and Wellness Element portion of the city’s General Plan. In doing so, the city hopes to address high rates of obesity that plague El Monte. The goal of the element is to align transportation and land use planning with health-related goals. The element provides policies and strategies that will help address health topics in the city. The Health and Wellness Element was funded by the LA County Department of Public Health. For more information visit the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

What is the vision of the El Monte initiative?
How will the PLACE Initiative help the City achieve its vision?
What City departments are actively involved in the PLACE Initiative?
Who are the initiative’s partners and what are their roles?
How has the initiative reached out to stakeholders?
What has the initiative accomplished so far?
How will the initiative know more people are walking in El Monte?
What technical assistance has the initiative received from the PLACE Program?
Who can I contact for more information about this initiative?

What is the Vision of the El Monte Initiative?

El Monte’s vision is to “foster policy change that supports the development of healthy, active environments for all community residents.

How will the PLACE Initiative help the City Achieve its Vision?

Policy Change: The City of El Monte is using PLACE Initiative funds to develop a Health and Wellness Element for the El Monte General Plan, with proposed components addressing healthy lifestyles and physical activity, access to healthy food, public safety and security, and access to recreation. Specific policies considered within these overarching topics include: complete streets, possible incentives for establishing grocery stores and other healthy food choices, and establishing and expanding on existing joint-use agreements with local school districts to increase recreational space available to the public.

Physical Project: Accompanying the Health and Wellness Element is the Arceo Walk, a one-mile walking circuit featuring “points of interest” signage, attractive sidewalks, and newly planted trees. Located in the Tyler Corridor along sidewalks frequently walked by El Monte residents, the signage will highlight neighborhood destinations such as schools, public transportation stops, and community centers.

What City Departments are Actively Involved in the PLACE Initiative?

The PLACE Initiative is led by the Department of Community Services. Veronica Dolleschel, Deputy City Manager, and Marian Last, Community & Senior Services Manager, oversee Arpiné Shakhbandaryan who is the full-time Health and Wellness Coordinator for the City. The Planning Division also plays a significant role in the initiative by working closely with consulting firm Raimi + Associates.

Who are the Initiative’s Partners and what are their Roles?

Raimi + Associates is a consulting firm that has been hired with PLACE Initiative funds to work with the City. The firm has worked with several other cities to incorporate public health into general plans and has co-authored a toolkit describing how to do so. Their role in the initiative is to work with the City to draft an existing conditions report describing the current health status of the community; organize and facilitate community meetings; draft language for the Health and Wellness Element and draft an implementation plan for the Element.

El Monte School District has been bestowed the Bronze Award from the Healthy Schools Program for leading the fight against childhood obesity and inactivity. The El Monte City School District’s contribution to the initiative is to promote the initiative to students and parents, provide social marketing strategies, and help identify location(s) and amenities for the physical project.

California Community Foundation launched the El Monte Community Building Initiative in July 2007. The Community Building Initiative is a $10 million, 10-year investment to revitalize three underserved El Monte neighborhoods by improving physical infrastructure, engaging residents, and providing better access to social services. The Foundation lends their health policy and civic engagement expertise to the City’s PLACE Initiative.

AltaMed Health Services is a federally qualified health center with thirty-five years of experience providing health programs for the underserved and uninsured in Southern California. AltaMed provides health screenings, education, outreach and advocacy support as it relates to the initiative.

Amigos de los Rios is a grassroots organization known for its work in designing sustainable open spaces and enhancing community life. They assist with the initiative by providing input on the physical project and promoting initiative related activities to community members.

How has the Initiative Reached Out to Stakeholders?

Outreach at Community Events: Initiative staff provide information about upcoming initiative activities by conducting outreach at community events such as bike festivals, summer concerts, book fairs, school jog-a-thons, parent group meetings, and local community classes.

Multi-Media Approach: Advertising about the initiative and its supporting activities can be found throughout El Monte in the local paper, bus posters, park banners, and local television.

Automated Phone Messages: With the assistance of school administrators, a recent system was implemented to contact each family attending participating schools and provide automated messages about upcoming initiative events.

Door-to-Door Visits: Promotoras and other community outreach workers utilize their knowledge of local neighborhoods and make door-to-door visits to invite community residents to initiative events.

City Council Updates: Initiative staff provide updates at City Council meetings when appropriate. The updates typically include a brief PowerPoint presentation and distribution of decision-maker packets that include initiative fact sheets and a copy of the presentation.

What has the Initiative Accomplished so Far?

Healthy Eating and Active Living Community Workshop: Over 150 community members attended the first community workshop to provide input on the Health and Wellness Element of the City’s General Plan. The workshop featured a presentation that provided an overview of El Monte’s current health conditions and linked the physical environment to public health. Community members also divide into small groups to prioritize their health concerns and brainstorm their vision for a healthy El Monte.

Technical Advisory Group (TAG): This group, comprised of City staff and other stakeholders (e.g. City Commissioners, Police Department, Chamber of Commerce, Public Health Department, community based organizations), advises the initiative on the content of the Existing Conditions Report, Health and Wellness Element, and the Element’s Implementation Plan. The TAG meets five times a year and is instrumental in reviewing the drafted documents and presenting recommendations before the final documents are submitted.

Walking Path Features: As a result of the feedback gathered from the community at the Physical Project Visioning Workshop, PLACE technical assistance provider, Alta Planning and Design, designed wayfinding signage, a kiosk, and a stencil for sidewalk etchings that are being placed along the Arceo Walk.

Over 100 El Monte community residents, in addition to the Mayor of El Monte, several City Council members, and several City Department staff, attended the ribbon cutting ceremony on October 28th to celebrate the induction of these newly installed park amenities. To promote a walking club to utilize the new path, The City of El Monte received a $20,000 grant from the Center for Civic Partnerships (California Healthy Cities and Communities) which is funded by the California Department of Public Health.

El Monte Residents Prioritize Health and Wellness for the City
A November 18th meeting in the City of El Monte helped residents vocalize their recommendations for the City's Health and Wellness Element. Over 100 community members were in attendance to discuss areas they would like the city to focus on, including parks and open space, healthy food access, and bike and pedestrian safety. At the end of the night, two bicycles and 24 helmets were raffled off to community residents, helping to promote bike safety. 

The newly installed informational kiosk at Arceo Walk

How will the Initiative Know more People are Walking in El Monte?

Pedestrian Counts: The initiative is committed to measuring the impact of the improvements to the Arceo Walk. To do this, initiative staff established baseline data indicating the number of pedestrians using the Arceo Walk prior to any improvements. Additional counts will be conducted after the improvements have been made and the two sets of data will be compared to measure any change in pedestrian activity.

What Technical Assistance has the Initiative Received from the PLACE Program?

The Physical Project Visioning Workshop: The initiative held an interactive community workshop seeking community input on Arceo Walk, a one mile walking circuit in the Tyler Corridor neighborhood of El Monte. As part of the workshop, attendees participated in a walk audit of this walking circuit using a comprehensive checklist or “Tour Book” to record their thoughts. The Tour Book was created by PLACE technical assistance provider MIG and featured a detailed map of tour route, clear images of “tour stops,” detailed descriptions relating to street and traffic calming designs, and space provided to identify and prioritize safety, mobility, aesthetics, and signage. After the walk audit, participants reconvened to share their input in a larger group session and prioritize changes that needed to be addressed. Thirty participants were involved in this event.

Launch of Healthy El Monte Website: Initiative staff recently launched the City of El Monte’s Health and Wellness Initiative Website to inform the community about the initiative and related events. The website was created by PLACE technical assistance provider Alta Planning and Design.

Who can I contact for more Information about this Initiative?

For more information about this initiative, please visit the Healthy El Monte Website or email Arpiné Shakhbandaryan, Health and Wellness Coordinator for the City of El Monte PLACE Initiative: ashakhbandaryan@ci.el-monte.ca.us.

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