Healthy Zoning Regulations

Zoning regulations are a powerful land use tool for promoting healthy eating and active living. The Healthy Eating Active Living Cities Campaign recommends the following zoning strategies to improve your residents’ health.


Promote compact, mixed-use and transit-oriented development

Establishing a minimum—rather than a maximum—density in mixed-use zones that include residential, commercial and office uses assures there are enough people and development to support a lively, interactive destination.


Examples of City Policies

The City of Walnut Creek's general plan and zoning ordinance places the highest residential densities downtown and near the BART station.


Local Government Commission (LGC) has many useful tools for interested in high density, mixed use development, including: Smart Growth Zoning Codes; A Resource Guide


Increase walking and biking through pedestrian- and bike-friendly street design standards

Cities can establish design guidelines and standards for pedestrian corridors and roadways that support walking and biking. The complete streets approach can be included in the general plan update, the zoning code, as the general plan, the bike and pedestrian master and specific plans, and redevelopment plans and financing.



Examples of City Policies
The City of Sacramento’s Pedestrian Friendly Street Standards embody the complete streets approach for biking and walking


The National Policy & Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity (NPLAN) has a model complete streets ordinance and supporting materials.

The National Complete Streets Coalition website delineates 10 elements for a complete streets policy.

The Local Government Commission's publication Street Design Guidelines for Healthy Neighborhoods


Increase access to healthy food by creating farmers’ markets and supporting existing ones.

Cities can support local agriculture and bring healthy food to residents by by defining farmers’ markets in the general plan and zoning code and encouraging them to accept the electronic benefit transfer card (EBT) and WIC coupons


Photo Courtesy of City of Fresno Metro Ministry

Examples of City Policies

The City of Fresno worked with community members, the planning department and elected officials to amend its zoning code to define farmers' markets as an allowed use.

The cities of La Jolla, Fresnoand Ceres are partnering with schools to host farmers’ markets on school grounds.

The City of San Francisco’s Municipal Codeallows farmers markets to be held on properties under jurisdiction of the park and recreation commission, andrequires its farmers’ markets to accept Electronic Benefits cards (EBT)and WIC and senior nutrition coupons.

Model Policies

ChangeLab Solutions has model land use policies to protect and promote farmers' markets.



Increase access to healthy food by creating community gardens and supporting existing ones.

These lively neighborhood destinations can provide affordable produce to residents, neighborhood green space and places for physical activity. Cities can support and promote community gardens by defining them in their general plan and zoning code.


Photo Courtesy of City of Chino
Examples of City Policies

The City of Escondido adopted a zoning amendment to make vacant land available for community gardens.

The City of Sacramento’s Front Yard Landscape Ordinance allows diversified urban landscapes, including fruit and vegetable gardens, in front yards.

The City of San Francisco allows community gardens on park and recreation sites.

Model Policy:

ChangeLab Solutions has model land use policies to protect and promote community gardens.



Limit unhealthy food around schools and in neighborhoods with over-concentration of unhealthy food outlets


Photo Courtesy of City of Chino
Examples of City Policies

The Towns of Calistoga, Truckee, and Cotati prohibit fast-food restaurants in order to preserve the character of the downtown district.

The City of Arcata  limits the number of chain restaurants in the city to no more than 9 at one time.

The City of Los Angeles imposed a moratorium on fast food in South LA while simultaneously launching a package of economic initiatives for healthy food retail projects.

The City of Seaside and Town of Carmel by the Sea prohibit fast food, drive-in and chain restaurants.



Healthy Eating Active Living Cities Campaign Contact Us Submit a Policy Huge Media, Inc. Linda Herman 2018