Seattle Earns High Marks for Enacting Policies That Improve Residents Health and Quality of Life

Nationwide study examined nine key areas to determine which cities excel at smart policymaking

November 13, 2019By Bill Conroy

"Seattle, United States- May 19, 2012:  The front steps and sign at Seattle City Hall on a typical overcast Seattle morning. Focus on the sign."

Seattle is one of only eight of cities nationwide to earn an overall Gold City designation in an assessment of its success in enacting policies that improve the health and well-being of its residents, an improvement from an overall silver award last year, according to CityHealth.

Policy advances over the past year that led to the gold-star rating include raising the legal age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21, improved efforts to foster complete streets and expanding access to healthy food in city buildings. Complete streets, one of the nine policy areas examined in the study, is a measure of how well all forms of transportation are safely combined, including walking, biking and taking a bus.

The study by CityHealth, which is an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, examined city policies in the following policy areas: affordable housing, complete streets; earned sick leave; food safety; healthy food procurement; high-quality, accessible pre-kindergarten; safer alcohol sales; smoke-free indoor air; and tobacco. Any city earning five or more gold medals across those nine policy areas earned the status of Gold City.

Everyone should have the right to live in an environment where they have the best opportunity for a healthy, thriving life, says Shelley Hearne, CityHealths president. By earning a gold medal for smart policymaking, it shows that Seattle leaders have rolled up their sleeves and worked with the community to adopt a set of proven policies that will improve the health and wellbeing of residents. We hope even more cities follow Seattles lead.

Seattle earned gold medals in all but four of the nine policy categories examined. It fell short in affordable housing, earned sick leave, pre-kindergarten access and safer alcohol sales. Only two other West Coast cities of the 40 major cities examined earned overall gold awards: San Francisco and Los Angeles. The other cities earning overall gold medal awards for 2019 are Dallas, San Antonio, Chicago, New York and Boston.