Fresno COG approves the 2014 RTP and SCS

On Thursday, June 26, 2014 the Fresno Council of Governments approved the 2014 Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy.  This is a heartfelt e-mail that advocates received following the decision from Veronica Garibay, Co-Director of Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability.  
As mandated by Senate Bill 375 this is the first time that regional COG’s were asked to develop a Sustainable Communities Strategy to go along with what has traditionally been solely a regional transportation document.  Advocates have been working on this process in the San Joaquin Valley for several years to ensure that the decisions made by the COGs reflect the well-being of residents and meet the greenhouse gas reduction standards.  
In Fresno County, a coalition of advocacy organizations and residents, were able to advocate for inclusion of three important policy elements into the document.
  • Grants Program — to allow rural disadvantaged communities to formulate projects that will enhance the quality of life of residents.
  • Needs Assessment — the commitment from COG to develop a needs assessment in existing communities that identifies basic infrastructure needs in neighborhoods, and allocates some funding to address those needs.
  • Farmland Conservation Ad-Hoc Committee — the development of an ad-hoc committee with community representation that explores policies and strategies for preserving prime agricultural farmland in the county.  Farmland is often lost to developments outside existing city boundaries, and this committee will explore ways of reversing that trend.

Many organizations and residents have been directly involved with this process for years and the sentiment during the approval of this document was one of appreciation.  At times this process seemed endless and tiresome but in the end everyone agreed that the diversity in opinions and stakeholders gave way to an exemplary public participation process and a strong document.

As we move into the implementation stage, it is clear that continuous public engagement will be essential to forming sustainable communities.  A new plan will have to be adopted in 2018, so it is almost time to begin molding this process all over again.  Community advocates are looking forward to it!