Group rallies for healthy and smart growth

FRESNO, California

Tuesday's press conference was organized by several Fresno organizations including the California Endowment's Building Healthy Communities initiative. The community members want to see an emphasis on affordable housing, air quality, transportation, and park space, all values identified through 850 one-on-one interviews. "This to my knowledge has never before happened in Fresno. This amount of community engagement has never been seen," said Christine Barker, with Building Healthy Communities.

The group supports on alternative plan "A," one of five alternatives under consideration. "A" focuses improvements to existing neighborhoods and major corridors and is also recommended by the city manager and planning department. "It would be more of a balance between urban and suburban. We start to support our corridors like Blackstone, Kings Canyon/Ventura, Shaw, to better support transit," said Keith Bergthold, the assistant director of the city's Development and Resource Management Department.

Other alternatives include investment in areas west of Highway 99 and north of Copper. Fresno's Building Industry Association has also drafted its own alternative which would focus on development in Southwest Fresno. While opponents call it 'sprawl,' BIA C.E.O Mike Prandini said it would allow builders to offer larger lots, which is what they say customers want. "If you try to force people to a market they don't want, Fresno will lose because the growth will go elsewhere. The people want 6,000 square foot lots, it's the majority of the market right now," said Prandini.

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