Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning


City and Regional Planning


Kelly D. Main


Recent, mounting research shows that chronic disease, the leading causes of death and primary driver of health care costs, cannot be effectively addressed through education or preventative health alone. A physical environment that promotes health—through access to healthy food, opportunities for physical activity, quality housing, transportation options, and safe schools—is an integral part of making our communities healthier. This research and accompanying Healthy Community Plans will serve as a way for the County to begin looking in-depth at the ways the built environment (our streets, parks, and neighborhoods) contribute or detract from the health of the community. Though the creation of a healthy general plan may be unattainable for the County in the short term, a focus on a small yet cohesive part of the county presents an opportunity to affect these changes.

Under the direction of the SLO County Health Agency and the Health Commission, we have written Healthy Community Plans for the unincorporated communities of Cayucos and Oceano, California. Both of these plans were greatly informed by their respective communities through input garnered through outreach, interviews, surveys and personal interactions with community members.

This project examines the relationship between the built environment and public health, and explores ways planning professionals are beginning to address health issues through infrastructure, land use, creative zoning, and planning strategies that promote health and active living in policy. The planning documents, modeled after health elements currently being included in general plans throughout California, have integrated the fields of planning and public health to provide Cayucos and Oceano an assessment of its residents’ health, a description of the current built environment conditions that may be helping or hindering physical activity and access to nutritious food sources, as well as establish goals, policies and implementation strategies that will set a course of action toward healthier communities.