After reading Fresno City Manager Mark Scott's guest editorial in the Dec. 15 Fresno Bee it appears the City of Fresno has appointed itself hall monitor of development for the region. So rather than speak in "Not in my back yard." platitudes, Madera County would like to offer some actual land use facts to the conversation.
The claim our developments are being done in a vacuum, without thought to regional impacts, is not the case. All approved developments in southeast Madera County are identified as future growth areas in the approved San Joaquin Valley Blueprint. The Blueprint was the product of several years of regional planning efforts, which included the City of Fresno.
That is why it's so confusing after such a considerable regional planning effort, for Fresno to adopt tactics and rhetoric used by "no growth" groups. They are engaging in litigation without participation and throwing around sensational terms about sprawl, but offering no facts as to what defines sprawl.
Sprawl is not a matter of where growth occurs, but a matter of how it occurs. When you have low-density residential development combined with the physical segregation of commercial, office and residential uses, an automobile-oriented community, or sprawl, is the result.
The Tesoro Viejo Plan, and all projects in southeast Madera County, have been planned to allow residents to live, work and play within their community -- reducing dependence on the automobile and combating sprawl. Approved in 1995, the Rio Mesa Plan embraced the principles of smart growth providing for a jobs/housing ratio and the implementation of mixed-use village centers ranging from 12 to 30 dwellings per acre. Southeast Madera County development is the antithesis of sprawl.
By suing Madera County, Fresno is merely projecting its failures to realize a vision of infill development on its neighbors. The concept of looking inward is not new to the City of Fresno -- they have had a policy framework that favors infill for years. Their existing general plan was adopted with the intent of directing development inward. The reason infill has not occurred is not a result of the quality of the adopted polices, but Fresno's failure to implement those policies. They have never had the political will to do so.
Fresno has also tried to make the claim that now is the time for regional discussion as if it has not been occurring. To the contrary, we all worked together to draft the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint of which Rio Mesa is a part.
Secondly, rather than sue a neighbor, Madera County made several requests in 2010 to meet and discuss the regional effects of Fresno's El Paseo project. This mega commercial project, close to the border with Madera County, will have a substantial effect on our roads and continue the blight of our community. We were told by the Fresno city staff that the traffic analysis showed impacts to our roads. However, the staff also stated that Madera County roads did not deserve mitigation because there was existing capacity to handle the traffic generated by this Fresno development.
Moreover, during the process of approving the Tesoro Viejo project, Fresno was given 10 legal notices to participate in the process. The Fresno staff did schedule two meetings with Madera County staff and in both instances canceled and did not participate in subsequent public hearings. The County of Madera responded to the comments submitted by the City of Fresno and the City did not object to those responses, or the Tesoro Viejo project. We were alarmed to hear the City of Fresno was pursuing ligation against the County of Madera, especially when they neither participated in the planning process nor gave us any courtesy notice allowing us to comment on their proposed litigation.
They have not offered any solutions -- they have only stopped 7,000 jobs that would benefit the whole region.
We have, and continue to be, available to discuss regional issues with our neighbors. We are willing to come to their offices if need be. It wouldn't be much of a burden because those of us that live in Madera already have to go to Fresno several times a week to do our shopping.