Bill Lindsay
City Manager Bill Lindsay. (Kristopher Skinner/Staff_file)

RICHMOND -- New partnerships initiated as part of the city's General Plan should pay dividends in terms of community health over the next decade, city officials said Tuesday.

The Richmond Health Equity Partnership (RHEP), a partnership among the city, Contra Costa County, the West Contra Costa school district and the California Endowment, has begun holding community meetings and sketching out plans to improve health and reduce violence. More than half of Richmond's residents are obese, according to county statistics, and the city has the highest violent crime rate in the county.

"We are looking at city services through a prism of public health," City Manager Bill Lindsay said. "We traditionally think of health care, but the idea now is to look at municipal (services) as a preventive component of health."

The plan, Lindsay said Tuesday during a report to the City Council, involves improving open space and pedestrian corridors while integrating more health services into local schools that serve poorer communities. Peres Elementary already has primary dental care facilities on site for the children, Lindsay noted.

At the same time, city officials are holding community meetings to educate community members and get new ideas, said Gabino Arredondo of the city manager's office. The school district has helped reduce suspension rates at Richmond High School by more than 50 percent in the past year, he said.

Two schools, Richmond High and De Anza High School, have health academies that focus on public health curriculums.


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"Health is interrelated with our local schools," Arredondo said.

Officials said the health element in the General Plan, the first in the city's history, has been crucial in drawing in about $10 million in state and private grants to improve public health. Among the key challenges that the city hopes to tackle in coming years are a dearth of grocery stores and open spaces, and more participation in public recreation programs.

Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726 or rrogers@bayareanewsgroup.com and follow Twitter.com/roberthrogers