Violence is preventable. A growing evidence base, grounded in research and practice, describes the factors that influence the frequency, severity, and likelihood of violence, as well as what it takes to prevent it. Land use planners and the disciplines they most commonly work with (e.g., parks and recreation, transportation, housing, agriculture, banking, and finance) have real potential to promote community resilience and prevent violence from occurring in the first place. From inclusive community planning processes, to innovative incentives and zoning practices, the ways we plan and use land in our neighborhoods can have a profound impact on neighborhood-level access to resources and institutions, as well as the look, feel, and safety of our communities. Effective violence prevention requires creativity and commitment from many stakeholders and sectors: land use related sectors are among the critical players that need to be ‘at the table’ to engage community residents to inform how we plan, design, and use our public and private spaces, to prevent violence and ensure safety for all.
Land use is an important determinant of health and safety because it shapes resident access to health-promoting resources—transportation, jobs, housing, healthy food, safe places to play and be physically active, and more. On the other hand, a lack of safety-promoting resources and infrastructure such as schools and jobs and an oversaturation of unhealthy land uses—like firearm distributors, liquor stores, freeways, and polluting industrial facilities—can conspire against community health and correlate with disproportionately high rates of preventable illness, injury, and violence.