The Framework for California

Chapter 4: Happy and Healthy Cities

Our plan to improve urban quality of life.


Vibrant Neighborhoods

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Abundant housing and great transportation networks make a city function — but what truly makes for a great city is the people. Cities are, first and foremost, large agglomerations of people, each of whom has their own dreams, ambitions, loyalties, and unique perspective on the world. The city is one of humankind’s greatest achievements because it brings together tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people and mixes their collective genius together into something new.

A city thrives when its people thrive, and it struggles when its people struggle. In previous chapters, we’ve described how California can ensure that its cities offer two of the necessary preconditions for flourishing — housing and freedom of movement — to everyone who dwells in them.

But access to good housing and strong transportation networks aren’t enough on their own. People should also have joyous, inclusive, and vibrant neighborhoods. They need opportunities to explore their interests and work toward their goals, both individually and collectively. These things may be more difficult to quantify than rent costs and commute times, but they are part of what makes cities great.

This chapter’s recommendations are intended to create more opportunities for happiness and flourishing in California’s cities. They include recommendations for creating more urban green space, encouraging local entrepreneurship, facilitating community events, and increasing residents’ access to high-quality public resources. This chapter also includes recommendations for mitigating or eradicating some of the environmental harms that impede our cities’ potential: harms such as noise pollution and social isolation.

California has an incredible wealth of resources. But its most important resource is its people: both current Californians and future ones. The more we help each other to thrive, the better off we will all be.

Incremental Recommendations

Incremental Recommendations

Transformative Recommendations

Transformative Recommendations