Environmental Quality

STATUS: Hinders human development

How do we measure the quality of our environment?  

1 proximity to parks & access to open space, 2 air quality, and 3 water supply & quality.

The environment where people live, work, and play is a key component of quality of life. Environmental pollutants also have a sizeable impact on health, “with around one fourth of the global burden of diseases deemed to be associated with poor environmental conditions.”181 While the health impacts associated with our surroundings are not always readily apparent, our environs elicit a visceral response. People intrinsically “attach importance to the beauty and the cleanliness of the place where they live.”182

Although environmental conditions in Los Angeles are not ideal, the environmental quality of the city and the region has been steadily improving for decades. And there is no sign that the trend will reverse.

The current state of Environmental Quality:

Southern California has the poorest air quality in the U.S.174


children in the city do not have access to parks.172


The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles have reduced Diesel particulate matter (DPM) by 80% in a five-year period.176


million children in the county do not have access to parks.172

Heavily Latino neighborhoods have only 0.6 park acres per 1,000 people; African American communities have 1.7 park acres per 1,000 people; and largely Caucasian communities have 31.8 park acres per 1,000 residents.173

“We have known for thousands of years how to build a healthy community. It has to have available green space, trees and good air quality. It has to be safe for people to go about their daily lives... You shouldn’t have to go to a gym to get exercise. In the year 2050, good environmental quality, access to physical activity, green space, and healthy food would be a sine qua non.”

—Richard Jackson, Chair & Professor, Environmental Health & Urban Planning, UCLA


higher cancer risk from air toxics exposure for people of color, as compared to Anglos, at every level of income.177

Indeed, the story of environmental quality in Los Angeles is one of tremendous progress. While there are still missed opportunities, the region’s environmental trajectory is promising.

How will Environmental Quality affect Los Angeles in 2050?

Environmental Quality in 2050 moves from “hindering human development” to “enhancing human development.” Los Angeles’ air quality is steadily improving. Plans, policies, and initiatives in the works are having considerable positive effects, and track record of past decades is encouraging. The state has identified the Bay-Delta as a serious issue, and mitigation plans are currently underway as officials devise a permanent solution. Local water agencies are increasing their share of local water sources that are more sustainable and secure. The environment of 2050 will almost certainly be better than it is today if we continue down our current path.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding environmental quality? Share it with us in the comments or use the hashtag #LA2050.