The Farmland Working Group sent out their summer 2008 newsletter. The newsletter includes articles on explaining what smart growth is, smart growth plans, updates on growth issues, annual city annexation summaries, the high speed rail, and a message from Farmland Working Group President Jeani Ferrari.
The Blueprint Process is an unprecedented effort to bring together public and private leaders and resources to make a difference for the San Joaquin Valley and the future of California. The Partnership Board includes 26 members appointed by the Governor, local boards made up of County Councils of Government (COGs), Professional Planners and Blueprint Regional Advisory Committee (BRAC) members representing the eight counties. I serve on Stanislaus County’s five-member BRAC. Over the past three years we met 6 times throughout the valley.
From mounds of written information, power point presentations and countless speakers, the 64 members of the BRAC have developed preferred scenarios and specific goals. Much work has been accomplished by this diverse group. I am encouraged by the many counties that established growth scenarios that leave behind status quo planning and create long-range plans for a viable and vibrant future. There are many planning issues that must be addressed: preservation of agriculture, impact on air quality, need for water storage, land use and mobility issues, patterns of growth and alternative energy sources.
As this is a bottoms-up process, the local community forums involve local citizens. Each county has scheduled Blueprint Community Workshops that draw citizens from every area of the county. What I have learned from the bottoms-up Blueprint Process is that growth must be addressed now. Long-range plans must not be circumvented by short-term and shortsighted local political choices. We still have time to choose our future.
About the Blueprint
The eight counties of the Central Valley – San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern – have embarked on a program to enhance regional and local-decision making through the involvement of all segments of the population as well as critical stakeholders in the valley communities. That’s government speak for “Let’s get together and talk about what we need to make our little piece of the world a better place.”
Supported by a $2 million grant from the State of California and a $500,000 matching grant from the San Joaquin Valley Pollution Control District, each of the eight counties will receive approximately $325,000 to conduct their piece of the program.
When the pieces are assembled into a valley-wide view, the “blueprint” that should emerge is one that will suggest how to foster more efficient land use patterns, which support improved mobility and reduce dependency on single-occupant vehicle trips; accommodate an adequate supply of housing for all incomes; reduce impacts on valuable habitat, productive farmland and air quality; increases resource efficiency and results in safe and vibrant neighborhoods.
Merced County Association of Governments is the lead agency for the eight-county effort and will collaborate with the other counties and the Great Valley Center in Modesto as the program moves forward.
What is the Goal of the Blueprint Process?
Many valley residents, agricultural interests, and community leaders feel there is a need to develop a vision for the valley that is long term and geographically broad. The goal of the SJV Blueprint is to develop a 2050 vision for the valley that is created and shared by its residents. The vision should be realistic and include the policy and program tools that will be incentives to local governments, business, and agriculture to implement the vision, not leave it on a shelf.
View the complete Farmland Working Group Summer 2008 Newsletter in pdf format here.
Farmland Working Group Mission Statement:
To preserve the agricultural foundation of our region and promote smart growth in our urban communities through education, outreach and action.