San Joaquin Valley Doing “About Half” of What They Can for Smart Growth

10_30_08_Highway_99.jpg
A Drive Up Highway 99 Shows Some Signs of Smart Growth

Via Carfree USA:

An exhaustive two year survey by the Modesto Bee in cooperation with the Great Valley Center and a class of California State University, Stanislaus, pollsters shows that LA County and the OC aren’t the only Southern California counties struggling with Smart Growth.  The report concludes that most communities in the San Joacquin Valley can do a lot more to reduce people’s reliance on the automobile.

The Bee published a scorecard and map so that readers in different communities can see how their town is doing in relationship to other towns in the area.  You can click on their interactive map here.  To their credit, they don’t just attack the towns that are encouraging sprawl, they also praise an example of Smart Growth done right in Oakdale.

A front porch swing catches a lift of breeze and gently sways beyond
a white picket fence. A meandering sidewalk, 10 feet off the road,
works through bright green grass. The sidewalk connects to a bike path,
nature trail and a country river.

It’s not old-timey nostalgia or a Hollywood ideal. It’s a 320-home mass production subdivision called Burchell Hill.

It is smart growth…

…The city also scored highly in areas that may be less visible but
still support smart growth concepts, with strong policies regarding
jobs, streets, water and sewers. And Oakdale’s west end is protected by
an agricultural buffer, a rare greenbelt formally acknowledged by
Riverbank.

Such forward thinking vaults Oakdale to the
top of The Bee’s survey of ideals. But the policies have been in place
long enough to produce real results.

Some interesting results from the valley wide-survey can be read after the jump:

Size doesn’t seem to matter. The highest-scoring cities feature a
mix of the valley’s very smallest (Dos Palos*) and largest (Fresno,
Modesto and Bakersfield). (*An earlier version of this story
incorrectly listed Sanger as among the valley’s smallest cities.)

Many cities are conscious about the fees they charge developers. Among
nine smart growth sections, cities valleywide scored best in the
category measuring whether they charge adequate fees and update them
regularly, although even the best cities earned less than 90 percent.

On average, cities’ design and public outreach leave much to be desired.

Whether good planning rubs off on neighbors is debatable.

Of
the valley’s 60 cities, the three highest-scoring — Oakdale, Patterson
and Turlock — are in Stanislaus County, and the county seat, Modesto,
tied for seventh place. Overall, Stanislaus County cities scored an
average of 66.19 percent — significantly ahead of cities in runner-up
Madera County, with 57.88 percent.

Photo: The Modesto Bee

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