California Moves Toward More Age-Friendly Future

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
The State of California is working toward a more livable, walkable, age-friendly future. Photo Credit: Unsplash

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – By 2030, California’s over-65 population will grow by four million – and a bill just signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom should help the state plan for this demographic shift.

Assembly Bill 1118, from Assembly member Blanca Rubio, instructs the state to sign onto AARP’s Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities. Jennifer Berdugo, associate state director of community for AARP California, says it’s a framework to help state planners envision a more livable, senior-friendly future.

“You know, autonomous vehicles, for example,” says Berdugo. “Is infrastructure going to be there to serve older adults, or people who may have a disability?”

Being part of this network helps put an age-friendly lens on the planning process – so, for example, parks can be designed to appeal both to kids and older people, and downtown areas will be zoned to put transportation, parks, businesses, medical facilities and civic spaces in close proximity, to encourage walkability for those who may not drive.

Berdugo says 39 communities across the state are already members of the age-friendly network, and more cities and states are joining.

“So, we actually have five states who are enrolled,” says Berdugo. “California would be the sixth, and it would be the first to go through this process legislatively. So, we wanted to have buy-in from our elected officials to really support this effort.”

Gov. Newsom issued an executive order earlier this year directing the state to create a Master Plan on Aging – so joining the age-friendly network is a step toward supporting that effort.