This week, the LA County Board of Supervisors approved funding guidelines for Measure A, the Safe, Clean Neighborhood Parks and Beaches Measure of 2016, ultimately adopting strong equity provisions that will funnel a minimum of $24 million per year to fund parks and recreational facilities in high-need and very high-need communities. Over 110 people attended Tuesday’s board meeting to speak in support of these equity commitments. Supervisor Hilda Solis said, “Measure A passed because we know that every community, every neighborhood and every family, regardless of income level or where they live, is entitled to an easily accessible and well-maintained park. This is about leveling the playing field, and ensuring that every county resident matters.”
Houston Public Media reports on health workers’ approach to preventing violence “before kids join gangs and before community problems become violence problems,” identifying factors in the physical, economic and educational, and social-cultural environments. “Each environment informs and interacts with the others in a way health workers like Melissa Bing with the Bureau of Youth and Adolescent Health describe as a type of feedback loop. The end result is sustained and generations-long trauma in a community. “How resilient would you feel about making changes or doing positive things if you are in a community like this?” Bing asked, looking out at several dilapidated homes in northeast Houston. “It would obviously be a lot harder for you to make positive decisions, especially when you pair it with the social-cultural environment where things like using violence is encouraged.” The City of Houston’s Bureau of Youth and Adolescent Health is expected to release a plan to prevent violence this month.
New data from the Governors Highway Safety Association finds that 6,227 pedestrians were killed in traffic in 2018, a nearly three-decade high. ‘“I’ve been in this business for 36 years and I’ve never seen a pattern like this,” said Richard Retting, who wrote the report and has worked in a variety of traffic engineering and safety roles for the New York City Department of Transportation, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and other federal and local transportation agencies. The report cited alcohol use, speeding, unsafe infrastructure and the prevalence of SUVs as some of the biggest problems contributing to the fatalities. It also suggested that the increased use of smartphones may contribute to such deaths… Also of concern: City dwellers who cannot afford to drive are being pushed into suburbs that are not designed to be walkable, Ms. Atherton said. “When you combine high-speed, high-volume roads with sprawl, it’s a perfect recipe for death,” she added.’
Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who has pushed forward regulations of nicotine levels in cigarettes and youth vaping during his two-year tenure announced that he will be resigning.
A new report from Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project links 91% of coal-fired power plants to contamination of nearby groundwater by arsenic, lithium, chromium, and other toxic chemicals. ‘“At a time when the EPA — now being run by a coal lobbyist — is trying to roll back federal regulations on coal ash, these new data provide convincing evidence that we should be moving in the opposite direction,” Abel Russ, lead author of the report and an attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project, said in a statement.’
Oregon became the first state to adopt a statewide rent control, which will limit landlords to once-per-year rent increases that cannot go over seven percent, plus the cost of inflation.
A federal judge ruled against United Behavioral Health, part of the UnitedHealthcare insurance network, for illegally denying mental health and substance abuse treatment to thousands of customers, and criticized UnitedHealthcare for putting their “bottom line” over patients’ health. ‘"It is well-established that effective treatment of mental health and substance use disorders includes treatment aimed at preventing relapse or deterioration of the patient's condition and maintaining the patient's level of functioning. UBH Guidelines deviate from that standard," [US Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph] Spero said.’
New research published in PNAS explores the relationship between green spaces and mental health. NPR reports that “researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark found that growing up near vegetation is associated with an up to 55 percent lower risk of mental health disorders in adulthood. Kristine Engemann, the biologist who led the study, combined decades of satellite imagery with extensive health and demographic data of the Danish population to investigate the mental health effects of growing up near greenery. "The scale of this study is quite something," says Kelly Lambert, a neuroscientist at the University of Richmond who studies the psychological effects of natural spaces. Smaller studies have hinted that lack of green space increases the risk of mood disorders and schizophrenia and can even affect cognitive development.”