204439 Zoning and public health: A Baltimore case ctudy

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Amelia Louise Greiner, MS , Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Zoning is one of a city's most powerful tools for shaping land use. Interestingly, zoning's power to shape private land comes from its mandate to promote health, safety, morals, or the general welfare of the community. Despite the centrality of “health” in the legal language, the presence of health in zoning decisions is often poorly defined, apparent via a limited definition of health or is of minimal importance. This gap between language and practice partly stems from the 19th century conception of disease that was transitioning from miasma to germ theory. While the definition of health has expanded over the years to include mental health, chronic illness, and susceptible populations, zoning policy has been slow to reflect this change. Given the scholarship on the role of the built and natural environment in determining one's health, zoning could play a more prominent role in promoting health than it currently does. With the historic relationship between zoning and health and the current comprehensive rezoning in Baltimore, Maryland, this talk will: 1.Trace the ways changing public health goals have and have not informed zoning codes; 2.Identify historic zoning decisions that now have an influence on Baltimore City's health; 3.Provide recommendations for how new zoning policy could better address public health goals; and 4. Highlight some of the challenges in pursuing such policy change.

Learning Objectives:
Define what zoning is. Identify means of collaboration between urban planners and public health scholars and practitioners. List several ways in which zoning may influence health. Discuss the potential and limitations of zoning as a tool for public health.

Keywords: Policy/Policy Development, Community Planning

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My dissertation research focuses on zoning, health and environmental justice in Baltimore. I have volunteered with the City of Baltimore Department of Planning and Department of Health to organize a Public Health Working Group for the comprehensive zoning rewrite. In the last year, I have helped to coordinate and present at two public meetings about the relationship between public health and zoning. Additionally, I serve on ICLEI's STAR Community Index Technical Advisory Board (a voluntary, unpaid position), and we'll be working to create sustainability measures to be used nation-wide. Last year I helped to coordinate a conference entitled Health and the City which addressed the intersection of urban planning and health. I have attended the US Green Building Council's conference on sustainability and attended the sessions about the need for equity in sustainability efforts.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.