Clovis News

Valley gets money to help clear air

Cash-strapped Valley communities are getting millions of dollars in state grants to help them carry out projects to meet new pollution laws.

The grants were the first issued through the Strategic Growth Council, a Sacramento-based state agency.

A major emphasis of the council is meeting new state pollution rules.

California is the first state to require communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by curbing sprawl, but the state provides no money to meet those mandates.

Strategic Growth Council grants come from Proposition 84 and will help pay some of those unfunded costs, said Heather Fargo, the council's executive policy officer.

The Fresno Council of Governments received $1 million on behalf of the San Joaquin Valley Regional Policy Council.

The funds will help small Valley cities -- those under 50,000 population -- create their future general plans and meet new pollution laws.

The city of Fresno received $992,214 in grant money. About $800,000 will pay for planning more bicycle- and walking-friendly areas and also transit projects, said Keith Bergthold, the city's assistant planning director. The goal is to reduce the use of private vehicles.

The remaining $192,214 will pay for an analysis of downtown Fresno's Fulton Avenue Corridor. The goal is to revitalize downtown neighborhoods.

"We want to raise its attraction for higher-income groups to live, work and play downtown," Bergthold said.

Fresno's proposal will offer people housing, transportation and lifestyle choices, said Fargo, a former Sacramento mayor.

"We really are trying to reinvent our older communities and older downtowns," she said. "Suburban sprawl has really hurt the cores of our cities, and downtowns are kind of being rediscovered."

Clovis will get $295,500 to study the possibility of trails and new types of zoning along Shaw Avenue between Highway 168 and Clovis Avenue.

The area has been beset by store vacancies along what was once the city's most prosperous business corridor, and nearby residents have the lowest financial demographics in the city, said David Fey, senior planner.

In trying to rejuvenate the area, Fey said, the city will seek ideas from students and officials from Fresno State, southwest Clovis residents, merchants and property owners.

Other projects funded by the Strategic Growth Council included:

  • $385,000 to help pay for a climate action plan for Kings County.
  • $450,000 for a general plan update for the city of Corcoran. The general plan is a blueprint for the community decades into the future.
  • $267,000 for a master plan for roads, sidewalks, trails, sewer and water lines, and ground-water recharge in Farmersville.
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