Fresno SCS: Greater than the sum of its parts

downtown-fresno-skyline-mt.-300x165.jpgIt’s not every day that community advocates get to directly influence the SCS process, but Fresno advocates did just that when they developed a community-based alternative scenario and won a hard-fought vote to have this scenario introduced into the Fresno Council of Governments’ (COG) discussion of its 25-year plan for future housing and transportation needs. On Friday, Fresno COG analysis demonstrated what we already knew to be true: the community-based scenario performs better on key metrics than the other three scenarios for growth currently under consideration.

In fact, lackluster public support for the initial proposals for future growth initially prompted advocates to develop their own. The three scenarios failed to garner significant public support either because they assume growth will continue as usual, with new towns popping up in the disconnected foothills (Scenario A and B) or concentrated in only a few areas, leaving others out (Scenario C). Fresno advocates in partnership with ClimatePlan consultant David Ausherman developed Scenario D, which shares the wealth more equitably by distributing growth across the region and directing much-needed resources to the rural communities that support the region’s agricultural economy and often need investment the most. In this way, Scenario D ensures that all communities benefit from future growth.

The Fresno Council of Governments’ analysis of Scenario D bears this out, demonstrating that it will conserve more farmland, would build the most homes and jobs near transit, and increase walking and biking the most. Calthorpe Associates is also conducting a RapidFire review to understand its other potential benefits. But we already believe that this scenario will achieve better results because it assumes that:

·Successful implementation of the City of Fresno’s general plan update will incentivize growth in downtown Fresno and along new bus rapid transit corridors,

·Demand for healthy, walkable communities will lead to growth patterns across the county that follow Blueprint smart growth principles,

·Decreased growth in unsustainable foothill locations will preclude the creation of “new towns,” and

·Growth and investment will strengthen existing cities and rural communities.

Although Scenario D performs best among the alternatives on several key metrics, it is struggling to gain traction with some committees. However, Fresno advocates and their allies continue to champion this alternative: the future of Fresno could be more sustainable and provide opportunities for all of its communities if Scenario D prevails. The Fresno COG board is scheduled to vote on these scenarios on November 21st. We’re watching closely, so stay tuned!

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