A regional effort in southern California helps three cities pass top-scoring Complete Streets policies

Downtown Hermosa Beach, CA
Downtown Hermosa Beach, CA, home to one of the top 10 best Complete Streets policies of 2012. Photo via Wikimedia.

On Monday, the National Complete Streets Coalition released its annual analysis of the best Complete Streets policies of the past year. The 10 diverse communities with the best policies of the year include three California cities in the Los Angeles metro area: Hermosa Beach, Huntington Park, and Rancho Cucamonga. Hermosa Beach and Huntington Park tied for second place on our list of top policies, and Rancho Cucamonga came in at number 10.

Part of their success stems from an initiative to improve public health through better street design across the entire Los Angeles region. With the help of federal funds, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health launched RENEW Los Angeles County, which significantly supported communities that wanted to focus on multimodal, sustainable, equitable transportation. Other public health funds including through the Healthy Kids Healthy Communities program run by Active Living by Design, provided support to other communities in the region.

With support from these organizations, new tools were available to help communities adopt Complete Streets practices and policies. In March 2011, the National Complete Streets Coalition provided a workshop for several communities within the county, helping them to understand how Complete Streets could be implemented locally. Later that year, the County Department of Public Health published the Model Design Manual for Living Streets, a free resource designed to help communities make their streets “lively, beautiful, economically vibrant as well as environmentally sustainable.”

With these tools, the California cities of Baldwin Park and Azusa adopted strong Complete Streets policies in 2011. The lasting effect of these tools is evidenced by these newer policies from Hermosa Beach, Huntington Park and Rancho Cucamonga. The Model Design Manual for Living Streets is even showing an impact in communities as far away as Broward County, Florida, where it was recently adapted and unanimously adopted.

When implemented, Complete Streets policies like these create safe and accessible infrastructure that encourages daily physical activity, shown to improve health. Implementation can also alleviate traffic congestion and air pollution, famous in the Los Angeles area, resulting in lower asthma related health problems.

Ten other California communities formally adopted a Complete Streets approach in 2012. The state now boasts policies in 29 communities and Department of Transportation. And the movement will continue to grow across the state as a result of the legislature’s 2008 Complete Streets Act, which requires communities to include Complete Streets in their general plan updates.

Communities interested in creating a Complete Streets policy can find more guidance and resources on our new Implementation pages. The three communities in southern California are some of the many towns and cities leading the way on Complete Streets policies nationwide.

Complete Streets