Sometimes we get stuff in the mail that is too good (well,... Enter Now
On the radar: The City of Fresno vs. developers
Final update (we hope): I wonder if anything will be good enough for me. So, after a two-week postponement, Fresno city council voted 5-2 to move forward with alternative A. Well, sort of. It's actually Alterative A-Plus, an amended Alterative A, because the real Alterative A called for too much density and not enough ... wait for it ... single family homes. The way things could have gone, this is a win, and I feel bad for even questioning it. It just seems like every movement forward has to come with at least one finger tightly gripped on the past. Darrius Assemi was one of the only members of the public to speak during the hearing, acoording to the story in today's Bee. His company, Granville is also one of the only developers slugging it out with mixe-use, high density housing downtown. We should listen to what he has to say. Which is this: "inner-city development figures to be frightfully expensive and time-consuming." And yet Granville is still doing it, which makes one wonder. UpdateIII: Bill McEwen is now calling it for smart-growth advocates and says developers won't be getting their way the next time the council votes. All this he laid out in pretty convincing terms in yesterday's column.
It's an interesting read and we're hoping he's right.
But something caught me there in the comments section (scroll to the bottom). Getting past the requisite "Fresno is a dump" verbage, there's our old friend and neighbor Clovis. The idea, of course, is that Fresno has to play ball with the developers. Because if it doesn't, the developers will simply move eastward to Clovis. It is an effective argument and not without historical merrit. Wasn't that what developers used to get Fashion Fair mall built?All of this is ignoring that land is a limited resource, but whatever.
What's this mean? It means the council members (minus Lee Brand and Larry Westerlund, who pushed a vote) want another two weeks to ... I dunno what exactly they'll be doing in the next two weeks. Maybe creating a white-board list of pros and cons to show at the next meeting? For those (like McEwen) who hoped the council would show some courage in this vote (see orginal post), this is cringe worthy. Spending five hours in discussion and then putting off the vote for two weeks is a let down, for sure and a bit disheartening.
See you back here in a couple weeks, I guess.
But before that, a word to developers (and supports of expansion): Stop with the "we're just building what people want" line. Don't get me wrong. I know who butters the bread here. Granville has long admitted that its success in single-family homes has allowed the company to move forward with its GV Urban projects (and thank them for it). While it's true that Fresno homebuyers for decades have "shown a perference for single-family houses located away from the urabn core," (as per BIA president Michael Prandini), they haven't been offered much alternative, either. And those we assume would want a more "urban" living environment often leave Fresno because of that very lacking (see also, the Brain Drain).What I am saying is: The old "we've always done things this way" line is not reason enough any longer.
Update: Here are a couple of interesting takes on the General Plan updates (which goes before the city council 5 p.m. Thursday). The first is from Jaime Holt (disclosure, she is a friend). It's a fairly straight-forward and well-reasoned look at why we need a new approach to city development.
The second, is a blog post from George Hostetter, a man whose writing you know I admire.
Here he's arguing that the 2025 general plan (and by extension, the update favored by the planning commission) is based on egalitarianism and high ideals and that those ideals have failed to bring any postive results. In fact, he cites a slew of poor decisions (made in the spirit of the 2025 general plan) that have led the city to its current state. Further, he feels that developers have been unjustly painted as evil-doing bad guys, and really it's the ex-mayor Alan Autry and his quest for "equality" that mucked everything up.
It reads a lot like his take on bike lanes.
While his frustration is noted, I fail to understand the purpose of the lines he's drawing. This is not about egalirarian goals and government-mandated equality. This is about creating a sustainable city (SUSTAINABLE. All caps). Those others things (walkable communities, where people don't have to drive to buy groceries, where people have OPTIONS other than personal automobiles or bad public transportation) those are benefits. The equity is byprouduct.George would probably say that if can't pay for it, it's not really sustainable. That's true. It's also small minded and sad. Let's not settle for more sprawl simply because it's easier to pencil out. I would think even George would expect better than that.
Orginal post: There is a showdown brewing, the outcome of which may define the type of Fresno in which we live (well, not present-day Fresno, but future-Fresno) It involves the 10-year update to the 2025 General Plan and which of five options the city council will choose to run with. This happens at Thursday's council meeting.For some backstory, read Bill McEwen's story in today's paper. The question, as McEwen well states, is whether the council has the political courage to take a (rightful) stand against developers, who are looking at profits and don't seem too affected by ideas like sprawl. It's the old story: Do we spend resources on infill, or continue on with new development? And we know how it's been going up to this point."What's needed Thursday is a frank discussion about Fresno come 2035. Will there be thriving neighborhoods in the heart of the city? Or will Fresno again grow by abandoning the urban core?"That IS what we need. Will it be what we get? In the grand pespective, I'm a newbie to this game and I already feel jaded about the outcome here. There are at least a couple council members that seem ok with the status quo.