An alternative to the leapfrog sprawl is to plan for transit-friendly neighborhoods on 9,000 acres immediately adjacent to the city, accommodating 41,000 houses for 119,000 residents and 37,000 jobs in the growth area.
The City of Fresno, with 510,000, would have to annex the county land to make this work. Fresno's metropolitan area has more than 1.1 million residents. As cities go, Fresno is unfriendly for pedestrians. The city has an average Walk Score of 49, which is classified as "car dependent." Few of the city's neighborhoods are walkable. SEGA would create an entirely new pattern of development, built around 9 regional centers and 26 neighborhood centers — walkable to nearly all of the new residents.
More than 3,000 citizens participated in meetings as the plan was discussed and created, but the draft plan is now meeting some resistence, according to Miller-McCune.
Two members of the seven-member Fresno City Council, with the support of a third, issued a report in February seeking to halt the project. It led to a contentious council meeting shortly after, but no action has been taken since.
With the economic downturn slowing growth, some now feel it may be too visionary — looking too far into the future — and will require too much public investment to be sustainable. There are developers who are simply resistant to changing how they build.
Plus, Fresno “has been so deeply impacted by fragmented infrastructure and fragmented development,” says Joe DiStefano of Calthorpe Associates, the plan’s principal author, “sidewalks that just end, no cohesive infrastructure investment program to drive development in any kind of organized way, that it’s left so much bad feeling about development in general.”
For more in-depth coverage on this topic:
• See the July-August 2011 issue of New Urban News. Agrarian urbanism, Landscape Urbanism vs. New Urbanism, Downtown makeover, bike sharing, bike-ped issues, TIGER III livability grants, unlocking remnant land value, selling the neighborhood, new urban resort, granny flats, The Great Reset.
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