Inaugural Inland Empire Healthy Cities Summit

Leaders from Riverside and San Bernardino Counties will convene to inaugurate a milestone event during which both counties will expand collaboration intended to improve health outcomes in the region.

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties in Southern California, continue to rank low out of 58 counties for an environment conducive to health. In response, a regional network of community health champions, including elected officials, planning commissioners, city managers, urban planners and public health practitioners are engaged in cross sector collaboration to improve the counties' health statistics.

Although great momentum has been achieved, the opportunity for improvement remains high. The Healthy Communities Summit will include discussion about healthy city resolutions, recent state legislation requiring health-related elements into the General Plan and an opportunity to learn best practices that includes model policies (e.g. smokefree environments, active transport, healthy food access), health data and tracking tools.

This event is by invitation only.  Participants will be attending as teams comprised or elected officials, city managers, planning directors, planning commissioners and other key staff representing each of our 54 cities and 2 counties.

Summit's Outcomes

1. Establish a regional network of healthy Riverside and San Bernardino cities and counties.

2. Identify opportunities for collaboration, resources and support.

Learning Objectives

1. Identify connections between land use planning and public health.

2. Define three main areas for improving health outcomes through community design.

3. Use best healthy communities planning practices into decision-making.

Summit Recap

Inland Empire Leaders Convene in Ontario for first Healthy Cities Summit.

Decision-makers, city and county officials, health advocates and practitioners came together on June 6, 2018 during the first Inland Empire Healthy Cities Summit held at the Ontario Convention Center. The full day event included dynamic and informative sessions organized around three community development topics: 1) Active Transportation, 2) Access to Healthy Foods and, 3) Tobacco Control.  Speakers addressed innovative and promising programs and practices to improve the region’s health outcomes.  Kicking off the program, City of Ontario’s Mayor Paul Leon described how over the years the city’s efforts for improving the community’s health played a central role in the city’s successful bid for the Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) grant. Joining the Mayor during the morning plenary was Jonathan O. Skinner, City of Lake Elsinore Community Services Director who focused on the city’s recent efforts to integrate health in all policies through the Healthy Lake Elsinore Initiative. A series of breakout sessions offered opportunities for attendees to choose from topics addressing environmental justice, adverse childhood and community experiences, safe routes to schools, ordinances to curb smoking and sugary drink intakes and community design. Dr. Geoffrey Leung, Chief of Family Medicine at the Riverside University Health System-Public Health Administration, delivered the afternoon plenary presenting evidence that integrating health into how we plan, design, build and operate our communities makes financial sense from a chronic disease/injury prevention perspective.


Representatives from each county had an opportunity to reflect upon their journeys through the healthy communities path and start envisioning immediate and future milestones to continue to improve health outcomes in the Inland Empire. Dr. Elizabeth Baca from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research shared from a macro level perspective her observations about the day’s proceedings. They included:  As we continue to move forward, we must include youth as part of conducting robust community engagement; recognize and support our partners’ efforts; look at data to help us measure up progress and inform policy, use it to celebrate accomplishments; leverage new state policy to help move healthy communities efforts forward such as SB1383, AB617 and SB1000; think about economic development and business entities as key partners for health equity; re-think conceptions about land use densities from an efficiency perspective; the small steps count towards big actions through a ripple effect that can contribute to improving the social determinates of health; seek new partnerships; try new, non-traditional approaches for addressing pernicious and chronic challenges and lastly, do not forget about self-care—burnout could weaken effectiveness while doing this work. The event was organized in conjunction with the 9th National Innovative Communities Conference.  It was sponsored by the Lewis-San Antonio Healthy Communities Institute, ReachOut, Riverside University Health System Public Health, Kaiser Permanente, American Planning Association Inland Empire, California Health Collaborative, PlaceWorks, Raimi+Associates and Michael Baker International. 


Learning Objectives 

  1. Attendees will be able to identify two examples of healthy cities initiatives in Inland Southern California

  2. Attendees will use the learning content to compare how work in their own cities measure up against the two shared examples


Honorable Paul Leon, Mayor, City of Ontario

Johnathan O. Skinner, MPA, CPRP, Director of Community Services, City of Lake Elsinore




Breakout Session [Round #1]

Choose one of the following three breakout sessions.  Each one of the topics play a central role in making Riverside and San Bernardino a healthier and prosperous region.​

Breakout 1A

Eat, Drink, Work: Building Partnerships for Better Nutrition

This session will include an update on food system initiatives in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.  Panelists will describe existing partnerships to improve access to nutritious foods, including efforts to decrease consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and to strengthen food rescue capacity.

Learning Objectives:

By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

a)  Identify at least one approach to improve access to nutritious food in their city

b) Identify at least one local entity to support efforts to improve access to nutritious food


Robin Nishiwaki Ronkes  MPH, RDN, Nutritionist, San Bernardino County Department of Public Health

Alfred Mata, Program Manager for Public Health Advocates and the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Cities Campaign

Olivia Sanchez, MBA, Administrative Analyst, City of Riverside, Public Works Department, Solid Waste Division

Isabel Carlos, Director of Administrative Services – City of Perris
Michael Paalani, DrPH, RDN, CDE, CHES, EP-C, Supervising Nutritionist I, Riverside University Health System – Public Health

Breakout 1B

One Step at a Time:  Riverside and San Bernardino Counties Championing Active Transportation

This breakouts session will provide an overview of active transportation and efforts to increase these modes in the Inland Empire. Discussions will be led by SCAG and will highlight individual and societal benefits of creating walkable and bikeable communities, the importance of community engagement, and countywide efforts that support active transportation. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Inform audience about the benefits of increasing the walkability and bikeability of cities.

  2. Discuss ideas and programs that lead to increases in active transportation and community support.


Rye Baerg, Senior Regional Planner, SCAG

Linda Khamoushian, Senior Policy Advocate, California Bicycle Coalition

Scott Rigsby, Public Health Program Manager, San Bernardino County – Department of Public Health

Mark Friis, Safe Routes to School Coordinator, San Bernardino County – Department of Public Health

Breakout 1C

Health is in the Air:  Cleaner Lungs through Prevention

In this session, city and business leaders, that have implemented tobacco related policies, will share their successes, challenges and lessons learned. Participants will explore areas of opportunity, learn best practices, and identify training and technical assistance resources available to assist with work towards smoke-free environments.

Learning Objectives:

By the end of the Breakout Session, participants attending the breakout session will:

a) Identify one way that tobacco products impacts the quality of life in their city

b) Express the intention to explore tobacco prevention strategies with tobacco control staff


Alexa Washburn, LEED AP, Vice President of Planning, National Community Renaissance ®

John Yi, Advocacy Director, American Lung Association

Dottie Merki, REHS, Program Chief/PIO, Riverside County Department of Environmental

10:50 am Break

11:00 Break Out Sessions (Continued) Round 2

Breakout 2A



Registration and light breakfast

MC's Welcome

Tricia Gehrlein, Director, Population Health, Morongo Basin Healthcare District

Arnold San Miguel, Regional Affairs Officer, Southern California Association of Governments


Opening Remarks

Michael Osur, MBA, Assistant Director, Riverside University Health System Public Health


Morning Plenary

Stories from the Healthy Cities Movement in Inland Southern California: City of Lake Elsinore and City of Ontario.

Every city in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties have a story to share about their journey towards becoming healthier places. In this session, the City of Lake Elsinore will discuss the forces that drove the recent initiation of Healthy LE Initiative, while the City of Ontario will share how their efforts to integrate health in all policies helped secured the highly competitive $35 million Transformative Communities grant.

County Workshops: Strategic Planning for Healthy Communities

The New Environmental Justice Movement: The Healthy Communities Act (SB1000)

SB1000, also known as the Healthy Communities Act, now requires that cities and counties throughout the State incorporate health considerations into the General Plan.  One of the propellers for this legislation is the implementation of one of the first Environmental Justice Elements from the City of Jurupa Valley which is discussed in a new Toolkit commissioned by the California Environmental Justice Alliance.  In this session, the speakers will provide an overview of SB1000, will provide a linkage to the Healthy Jurupa Valley Initiative and discuss guidelines and best practices for implementation.

Learning Objectives:

1. Determine the extent to which their community have to comply with SB1000

2. Explain how the City of Jurupa Valley is connecting SB1000 with Healthy Jurupa Initiative

3. Use various resources provided during the session to implement SB1000


Dr. Elizabeth Baca, Senior Health Advisor, Governor's Office of Planning and Research

Mary Wright, AICP, Planning Director, City of Jurupa Valley

Mark Hoffman, Associate Principal, PlaceWorks

Breakout 2B

Building Resilient Communities: Strategies for Addressing ACE|Rs (Adverse Childhood & Community Experiences

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and adverse community experiences (ACERs) can impact lifelong health and can be prevented.  Panelists will discuss the influence of adverse events on health outcomes and wellbeing, as well as innovative policies and practices to address this issue.

Learning Objectives:

By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

1. Learn what ACEs/ACERs are, and those that are specific to the Inland Empire

2. Learn policies and practices for prevention

Dr. Rhonda Spencer, Associate Professor, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University

Dr. Ruben Cantu, Program Manager, Prevention Institute

Dr. Pegah Faed, Senior Program Officer, First 5 LA

Dianne Leibrandt, Program Coordinator, Riverside University Health System— Public Health

Breakout 2C:

The Healthy Development Checklist:  A New Tool for Planning Healthy Communities in the Inland Empire

In collaboration with different agencies, the Riverside University Health System Public Health prepared the Healthy Development Checklist.  The HDC was developed to provide guidance on how to improve health outcomes through the built environment in the Inland Empire. In this session, the speakers will focus on the aspect of collaboration that led to the creation of the HDC.  An overview of the tool will also be provided.

Learning Objectives:

By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

1. Design a collaboration strategy for their city

2. Discuss basic application of the HDC


Monica Guerra, PhD, Planner, Raimi+Associates

Michael Osur, MBA, Assistant Director, Riverside University Health System-Public Health

12:00 pm Lunch

1:00 pm Afternoon Plenary

The High Cost of Not Planning for Public Health

The places where we live, work, play and learn are an intrinsic factor for public health outcomes.  When city and regional planning incorporates health as part of the development process, the likelihood that health outcomes are positive is greater than not considering it.  Places like neighborhoods, workplaces, parks, streets, open spaces, schools, public facilities and other share in common, is that they can be a prescription for healthy living--as long as they have been planned with health in mind.

Learning Objectives:

1.  Attendees will be able to describe why planning is part of a prescription for health

2. Attendees will be able to determine how to explain to others the value of public health into community development.


Dr. Geoffrey Leung, Chief of Family Medicine, Riverside University Health System Public Health-Administration

1:30 pm 

During this block of time, city representatives and guests will join two groups to represent each county to discuss past, current and future collaborative efforts to improve the health of our region.

3:30 pm Break

3:40 pm Wrap Up and Closing Remarks

4:00 pm Adjourn