Residents Learn Benefits of Sustainable Living

Nicole Baldocchi

At City Hall workshop, locals learn how to incorporate their city into their healthy lifestyle.

Imagine living in a city that supports and encourages health and healthy practices. Imagine a place where people care about what children eat.

This could be Mountain View, and the possibility was discussed at the “Healthy Communities in Policy and Planning” event at City Hall on Thursday, sponsored in part by the Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning. This event was the fourth in a series of events sponsored by the coalition, the Health Trust of Silicon Valley and Mountain View City Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga.

“I’m very grateful to live in a community where we do value healthy living,” said Abe-Koga. “We’ve decided to intertwine health throughout the [General Plan 2030] update.”

Abe-Koga explained that even though most Mountain View residents live within walking distance of a park, most elementary schools are situated within half a mile of a fast-food restaurant. She said there is “still room for improvement,” and that is why these issues were highlighted in the general plan update.

Ellie Casson, a campaign organizer with Greenbelt Alliance, helped organize the event.

“The goal of the whole series is to spread the word about sustainability, specifically as it connects to planning and the way we design our city,” Casson said.

The event featured Heather Wooten, a Bay Area expert on healthy planning and policies and senior associate with Public Health Law & Policy, a nonprofit that works with community leaders to find solutions to public health problems.

Wooten said cities have been centered around cars since World War II, but some cities, like Barcelona, Spain, offered more people-friendly environments with larger sidewalks, pedestrian-friendly lights, healthy restaurants or accessible public transit.

“Defining a healthy community is not just health of individuals,” Wooten said “We’re talking about how communities shape our health and outcomes and what decisions we have available.”

One Mountain View family was featured in a short film, Living Lightly in Mountain View. Anthony Chang and Wendy Wong and their daughter, Kaiya Chang, live downtown and have managed to live a “green” life by between taking the train to work and using all of downtown’s amenities.

“For me, it’s about how we consciously choose to live,” Chang said. “It’s both a lifestyle choice and a values choice.”

Wooten showed slides of good and bad examples of other cities’ plans—some with store entrances on street sides, which is good, and also welcoming to the community—while others had nothing but viewable driveways and parking lots.
There’s one McDonald’s restaurant for every 13,000 Americans, according to Wooten’s statistics.

“You begin to see how we have a very imbalanced environment, making it easy for people to make bad choices,” Wooten said.

Wooten went on to encourage things like accessible transit, farmers’ markets, urban agriculture, healthy school food zones and more.

Palo Alto resident Burt Liebert stepped up from the audience and gave Wooten a copy of his book, Out of the Cage, which discusses sustainable living.

“Hopefully this is the direction Mountain View will be headed,” Liebert said.
The next installment of the series will be continued at the Google campus in March. The exact date has not yet been determined.

Mountain View Patch

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