LA Story: Planning, Harassment and Equity


  • Critical social determinants of health
  • Planning interventions can support positive health outcomes
  • Importance of having public spaces free from the threat of sexual harassment, if health equity is a community goal
  • Actionable solutions to challenges using a well-vetted system of brainstorming, organizing, ranking, and fleshing out ideas


Building on the national dialogue of the #MeToo movement, there is a need for planners to look at the emerging issue of sexual harassment and health equity at the neighborhood scale. The Pico Union/Westlake neighborhood lies in the shadow of downtown Los Angeles. It is a dense, very low-income, predominantly Latino and immigrant neighborhood, where more than 100,000 residents live in an area of just 2.72 square miles. In 2017, New Economics for Women, a community economic-development nonprofit located in Pico Union/Westlake, was selected as one of 10 pilot communities to receive technical assistance through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Healthy Places for Healthy People (HP2) program. During community outreach activities associated with the HP2 program, it was revealed that girls and women in the neighborhood are daily victims of intense and incessant street harassment. Walking and transit are the primary forms of transportation in the neighborhood, and this pervasive dynamic presents a real barrier for women and girls to access daily activities. Course highlights include key outreach techniques to spark conversations with community members and specific actions stakeholders and residents are taking to address sexual harassment and health equity at the neighborhood scale.