|Fresno County, CA||November 7, 2000 Election|
By Daniel K. WhitehurstCandidate for Mayor; City of Fresno
This information is provided by the candidate
Managing Growth, Agricultural Preservation, General PlanLAND USE
Other regions of California have converted from agriculture to less land-intensive industries. There is a consensus in the San Joaquin Valley however that maintaining an agricultural base is in our long term best interests. As an economic development expert put it, the San Joaquin Valley could do high technology, but it won't be the best in the world at it. In agriculture, this region is the best in the world. Unfortunately, rapid population growth is now projected for the region, which poses a threat to agriculture. The answer is a coordinated plan for ag preservation and strategic location of future urban development. Growth should be directed to areas that are not prime farmland.
At a time when land use planning is critical, the City Council is six years late on the update of the General Plan. The Council seems to prefer a week-to-week, will-we-or-won't-we approach to zoning, rather than a clear set of principles and policies that citizens and industry can rely on. Ironically, while the Council has been delaying, an unprecedented discussion has been taking place involving key community stake holders. The Fresno County Farm Bureau, the American Farmland Trust, the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, the Fresno Business Council and the Building Industry Association of the San Joaquin Valley worked for a year on a well-received document called "A Landscape of Choice." The City would do well to incorporate the principles of this group, the Growth Alternatives Alliance, in its general plan. It calls for higher densities of development, incentives for infill, steering development away from productive farmland and cooperation among cities in the region. As Mayor, I would call upon the Great Valley Center to assist us in working with other communities to come up with a unified "smart growth" strategy.
We should not be trying to encourage growth. We already have high unemployment. But some growth will happen anyway. About 70% of our population increase is due to new babies, which means we will have growth even if nobody else moves here. I support the idea of infill development and am prepared to try innovative measures to make inner city living more attractive to home buyers.
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