Monday, December 5, 2011

Land use planning in Fresno

San Joaquin Valley has seen shifting land use, decline in skilled labor force and startling rate of 15.7 % for joblessness. Furthermore, Fresno County has topped the state with poverty rate of 26.8%. Fresno has witnessed increase in air pollution, deterioration in quality of drinking water with a rank in 16th percentile of national average due to use of pesticides in farms, resulting in adverse impacts on residents health.

Fresno County is one of eight counties in the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District (Valley Air District), which currently does not meet many of the air quality standards required by the Federal Clean Air Act or the California Clean Air Act. The Valley Air district has failed to meet the air standards for ozone and other pollutants set forth by the state of California. Since automobile and truck traffic alone are responsible for a third of these emissions, Fresno should rethink its future land use decisions and infrastructure improvements. Fresno must focus on employing high-capacity means of transportation which will result in improved occupancy, shortened travel times, and lesser costs.

Political governance includes firms and government agencies, and hierarchical governance structures, like zoning are included under institutional arrangements which are closely interconnected in practice. These structures execute control in land use decisions which affect the transaction costs considerably. These costs to the developer are a vital source of revenue for the government, also mentioned by Peter Herzog. Local government of Fresno has to take effective measures to keep these costs low to attract developers while formulating growth strategies. Planning and Development department of city of Fresno listed “Provide activity centers and intensity corridors within plan areas to create a mix of land uses and amenities to foster community identity and reduce travel” and “Coordinate land uses and circulation systems to promote a viable and integrated multi-modal transportation network” under “Applicable 2025 Fresno General Plan Goals”. However, these goals need commitment to get fulfilled and have to align with contingent sustainability requirements laid out by SB375.

The biggest challenge that Fresno faces in next few years is the population growth. Graph below shows the increment in number of households required to support the job growth. Although we may argue that there is a surplus of commercial and residential real estate in Fresno, the future market demands more units.

Careful land use planning with emphasis on transaction costs reduction will not only provide the necessary infrastructure requirements but also attract potential development schemes which might help in revitalizing the downtown and other areas of Fresno. Crafty planning and investment in transportation infrastructure will help revitalize Fresno economically and attract more opportunities for development of local people and regions. Confluence of governance and developers’ motives towards development can stand miraculous for Fresno.

A move towards service based economy is the trend nationwide to achieve competitive advantage but Fresno is rich in fertile agricultural land and cannot overlook its economic base. Local government can divert resources to encourage research in Agriculture so that we can capitalize on it. Careful Zoning can protect this rich fertile land while addressing the need for urban growth.

Take a look at the “Interactive Map – includes zoning, land use designation information and aerial photos” and “2025 Fresno General Plan – Land Use and Circulation Map”.

Buitelaar, Edwin. The Cost of Land Use Decisions. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2007. Print.

"County of Fresno - Public Works and Planning - Planning and Land Use." County of Fresno. Web. 03 Dec. 2011. .

"Fresno County Tops State's Poverty Chart - Local-" Covering Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley in Central California - Fresno Bee. Fresno Bee, 29 Nov. 2011. Web. 01 Dec. 2011. . Oct. 2011. Web. 01 Dec. 2011. . CalTrans, 24 June 2005. Web. 01 Dec. 2011. . 28 May 2009. Web. 1 Dec. 2011. . Web. 1 Dec. 2011. .

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