Planning Healthy Places

Learn about Air District efforts to promote healthy infill development through Planning Healthy Places, a guidance document that provides important air quality and public health information and tools.

The Air District seeks to promote “healthy infill development” from an air quality perspective, by encouraging local governments and developers to address and minimize potential local air pollution issues early in the land-use planning and development process. As part of this effort, the Air District is providing information, recommendations, and technical tools to assist cities in incorporating air quality considerations into their planning processes.

Despite tremendous improvements in air quality, some communities in the Bay Area still experience higher levels of air pollution than others, and therefore higher incidences of adverse health effects. The Air District’s CARE Program and Clean Air Communities Initiative have sought to identify these disproportionately impacted areas and target resources in these areas to reduce local emissions and public exposure.

However, air pollutant concentrations continue to remain elevated in locations near major air pollution sources, such as freeways and industrial facilities. Often, these locations are in cities where much-needed infill development is planned. High density, mixed-use, and transit-oriented development is vital in order to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from on-road vehicles. It's also necessary for the region overall to attain health-based ambient air quality standards and to meet its climate protection goals. 

Unfortunately, development in locations near major sources of air pollution could also result in increased local exposure to unhealthy levels of air pollutants for the people living there, unless steps are taken to reduce emissions and minimize exposure. Planning Healthy Places provides recommended best practices for reducing exposure and emissions from local sources of air pollutants. Local governments, developers, and other stakeholders are encouraged to use this guidebook to implement these air quality solutions.

Support for Planners

To address the issue of healthy infill development, the Air District has prepared a guidance document entitled Planning Healthy Places. This document includes important information for local governments, developers, and the general public, including:

  1. The location of communities and places throughout the region that are estimated to have elevated levels of fine particulates and/or toxic air contaminants. These areas are shown via web-based, interactive maps.
  2. Best practices that may be implemented by local governments and developers to reduce health risks from air pollution in these locations that experience elevated air pollution levels (see #1).

The purpose of this guidance document is to encourage local governments to address and minimize potential local air pollution issues early in the land-use planning process, and to provide technical tools to assist them in doing so.

Public Workshop / Webcast

The Air District held a public workshop/webcast and an open public comment period to solicit ideas and feedback on Planning Healthy Places, including the tools and recommendations that are a central component of the guidebook. An archived webcast of the workshop is available. 

Contact Us

Planning and Climate Protection
Air Quality Planning


Contact Us

Spare the Air Status

Last Updated: 7/24/2023