Have you heard of San Francisco’s “Health Development Measurement Tool“? Me neither, until today. What, you ask, is the Health Development Measurement Tool? The HDMT is a “comprehensive evaluation metric to consider health needs in urban development plans and projects.” And what does it do? “The HDMT explicitly connects public health to urban development planning in efforts to achieve a higher quality social and physical environment that advances health.”
Um, OK. So what does this mean? The introduction to the study says:
* Housing quality, air pollution, noise, traffic safety, and access to parks are some examples of factors related to land use and development that also affect population health and well-being.
Âƒ * Public health agencies do not routinely evaluate land use and development plans and projects to ensure that they create a healthy â€œbuilt environment.â€
Âƒ * The SF Department of Public Health created the â€œHealthy Development Measurement Toolâ€ (HDMT) a comprehensive evaluation metric to consider health needs in urban development plans and projects.
In other words, what we build, how we build it, how we get from home to work to other places we need to go, and leaving open space for recreation are all really important parts of keeping people healthy. To that end, the report slices and dices San Francisco along neighborhood lines and provides statistics — on a citywide as well as a neighborhood level — relating to dozens of different factors ranging from population density to the proportion of residents living below the poverty level to residential per capita natural gas use. It also looks at water use; proximity to parks, libraries, supermarkets and community centers; voting rates; and a host of health outcomes such as asthma hospitalization and emergency department visit rates per 10,000 residents and the diabetes hospitalization rate per 1,000 residents.
I live in the Inner Sunset, so I was curious about how my beloved ‘hood compares to the cityas a whole. We have more people per square mile than the rest of SF (18,068 vs. 15,948), higher median household income ($78,878 vs. $73,528), more married people (39% vs. 34%), and we hit the jackpot with 100% of our residents within 1/4 mile of a park (SF rate: 88%).
If you want a jarring look at the differences between some of San Francisco’s most affluent areas and some of our most economically challenged areas, check out the list of neighborhoods, select a few and see how much income disparity exists in San Francisco, how much more crime occurs in lower-income areas, and the difference in unemployment rates across the city (10% in the Bayview, for example, vs. 2% in Presidio Heights).
The HDMT’s stated goal is “to support comprehensive and health-responsive planning using a systematic and objective method.” Here’s to hoping that this report leads to healthy, productive development in San Francisco.