Valley Voice: The health impacts of the CV Link

Silvia Paz, Special to The Desert Sun 6:35 p.m. PST November 7, 2014

desertsun-pazsiliva(Photo: Desert Sun file photo )

Building Healthy Communities Eastern Coachella Valley commends the Coachella Valley Association of Governments, the Southern California Association of Governments and the Riverside County Department of Public Health for their leadership to advance health outcomes of the CV Link through a health impact assessment.

An easy way to describe the role of the assessment is by comparing it to the role of a doctor.

Just as a doctor can advise patients on how to improve their health, a health impact assessment can provide recommendations on a project to maximize positive health impacts and minimize negative health outcomes.

The CV Link has been a topic of controversy for many across the Coachella Valley. Most of the disagreement has centered on whether the cost of the project is a worthy investment when we have communities across the valley with unique health concerns: poor housing and environmental conditions that exacerbate respiratory illnesses and poor planning that has left many of our low-income communities without access to parks, bike lanes or even sidewalks.

And while I tend to agree with these concerns wholeheartedly, it does not mean that the CV Link cannot be done right.

Supporters of the CV Link suggest that the trail will bring several benefits, including increased multimodal transportation, an opportunity for fitness and recreation, and economic development. The health impact assessment process, which begins with a series of scoping meetings, provides an opportunity for the public to influence the design of the CV Link to ensure its impact is understood and positive health outcomes are maximized, especially for communities of high need.

Building Healthy Communities anticipates robust community engagement and the publication of the health impact assessment’s recommendations to learn how its findings will inform the design of CV Link.

To find more information about the health impact assessment and related workshops, visit

Silvia Paz is director of Building Healthy Communities Eastern Coachella Valley, a health equity initiative of The California Endowment. E-mail her at