Committed To Becoming More Age-Friendly
West Sacramento United States of America
The City of West Sacramento is actively enhancing its existing community policies, programs and services that are targeted towards older people, and evaluating new opportunities to improve the quality of the services it provides to residents in order to become more age-friendly.
In 2013 the Community Development department obtained approval for a new general plan housing element that promotes the development of affordable and accessible housing for all ages. The City is currently preparing revisions to other elements of the general plan for consideration by the City Council. The proposed general plan update includes policies that promote healthy living and active lifestyles for all. The Parks and Recreation department offers a wide array of programs and services for seniors in the community, at the city’s newly-built Community Center or at one of the many parks and open spaces across the city. The Parks and Recreation department is planning on increasing the number of ‘Silver Sneakers’ and ‘Silver and Fit’ (two health and wellness programs sponsored by local healthcare providers) programs in the next few years in order to further serve the growing population of seniors.
After joining the AARP/WHO Network of Age-Friendly Communities in late 2015, the City embarked on an extensive outreach effort designed to solicit input from older residents throughout the community. The City used a variety of means to ensure that the wants and needs of our diverse community are represented in our action plan. Our baseline assessment integrated traditional mechanisms to involve older adults, including a survey instrument and informational interviews. We also reviewed existing data sets from our transportation system, housing element, and Parks and Recreation Department to infer the preferences of older adult residents. Uniquely, the development of the City’s plan was overseen by a Council-appointed committee consisting of two Council members, along with representatives from each of the City’s advisory commissions. In this way, the plan development process became a learning experience for key City decision-makers that will help integrate consideration of age-friendliness into the day-to-day conduct of the City’s business. The development of the City’s Age-Friendly Action Plan ultimately became one of the most inclusive planning efforts every undertaken by the City, with hundreds of residents having provided feedback.
The City finalized its plan in August of 2016. The Plan contains 20 recommendations spanning multiple domains of livability. Several of the initial Plan recommendations have been implemented already. For example, the City recently released the first edition of a new printed age-friendly newsletter, which was mailed directly to over 3,500 older residents. Using a Community Challenge Grant from AARP, the City has also completed its first “Age-Friendly Intersection Makeover,” which saw the installation of countdown timers, extended signal timing, audible enunciators, and larger signal heads to make a key downtown intersection safer for older residents — and all residents — to cross this intersection that leads to City Hall, the Arthur F. Turner library, the Senior Center, and other community amenities. As a result of its involvement with the Network of Age-Friendly Communities the City is working harder than ever before to incorporate livability considerations into all of its decision-making for the benefit of the entire community.