Lee Brand says it's time to concentrate on Fresno's urban core

FRESNO, Calif.

Council member Lee Brand says his new proposal would have a profound effect on the city's 2035 general plan. It's clear many Fresno neighborhoods have been left behind.

Newer developments in Southeast Fresno house many families but some people here feel neglected by the city.

Closed businesses add to the neighborhood blight. You can find empty lots in many parts of both Southeast and Southwest Fresno.

Residents like Curtis Frazier say more housing units should be built on the vacant lots. He said, "We've got a lot of fields over here. We need more houses so people could have a better place to live. We feel left out because we feel we get the leftovers."

Brand says the Infill Development Act targets these forgotten areas by lowering developer fees and stream-lining the permit process. He said, "A city can't just keep growing on the fringe, it will die. You've got to find a way to lift up the under-performing properties."

Brand says the plan is the first which doesn't expand the city's sphere of influence. Infill projects like the Van Ness Cottages in Central Fresno were able to tap into funds through the Redevelopment Agency but the RDA no longer exists.

"When you eliminate the RDA that was subsidizing between 25 and 30 percent, when you take away that incentive how do you make up for it? That's the answer I'm trying to develop," Brand said.

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