Jun 29, 2010
Eighty local elected officials and managers of transportation planning organizations in the San Joaquin Valley gathered in Fresno on June 25th to be briefed on the implementation of the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint adopted in 2009 as a framework for growth in the Valley as its population doubles over the next 40 years.
The growth principles and housing density and transportation mix targets adopted in the blueprint are now guiding cities and counties in the Valley as general plans are updated. Attendees from Kern County to San Joaquin County heard details about a "toolkit" being developed to help local planners access more than two dozen resources, including model ordinances and other examples of ways in which communities can grow while improving quality of life for residents. Plans are also being made to raise the profile of the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint to those whose work will be impacted by implementation, including developers and agribusiness.
The new chair of the San Joaquin Valley Regional Policy Council, Mayor Bill Spriggs of Merced, was introduced along with the new chair of the San Joaquin Valley COG Directors, Tony Boren, executive director of the Council of Fresno County Governments.
Martin Tuttle, Deputy Director of Planning and Modal Programs for the California Department of Transportation, reported that 17 of the 18 regional transportation planning organizations in the state have completed blueprint planning projects, and suggested that a new era is being entered that will integrate the regional plans into a blueprint for all of California. Tuttle expects the California Interregional Blueprint to be in draft form by September.
Robert Grow, chair of Envision Utah, drew comparisons between the San Joaquin Valley transportation and land use planning and other regional planning efforts across the country, including the one he led more than a decade ago in Utah. He pointed out that the San Joaquin Valley will continue to grow rapidly because it is a good place to live, and sits between the "NorCal" region and the "SoCal" region in discussions about the United States becoming a collection of "mega regions." One trend he presented is the observation that transportation, land use, energy and water planning are now inseparable in America, and further integration of planning will challenge regions and organizations that have focused narrowly to this point.
Forum participants formed round table discussion groups based on city size, and identified challenges to implementation of the blueprint along with resources needed to realize the benefits of a regional approach to growth. Feedback from the groups will be incorporated over the next few months in the implementation strategy that is being coordinated by the Mintier Harnish firm under the direction of the San Joaquin Valley Councils of Government.