Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

For the second time in two months the Fresno City Council has voted down a proposal to start a farmland preservation program. FM89’s Joe Moore reports. 

Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s administration had wanted to apply for a $100,000 state grant to help start the effort, which is a key part of the city’s new general plan. 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council has rejected a proposal to move forward with an effort to preserve area farmland from development.

The council voted down the proposed grant application today to start a farmland preservation program, which is key part of the city’s newly adopted general plan.

The program would require developers to offset the loss of farmland from urbanization by agreeing to preserve farmland elsewhere.

Council member Lee Brand says he wants more public input before committing to such a program.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Fresno City Council approved a new general plan last night that for the first time attempts to but the brakes on suburban sprawl. 

Over the next two decades, the plan calls for about half of the city's future growth to take place within the existing city limits and the rest in new growth areas like west of Highway 99 and in Southeast Fresno. 

Mayor Ashley Swearengin called the council's 5-2 vote historic, and a new direction for the city.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin joined us on Valley Edition to talk about her priorities for the city and some of the biggest issues facing local residents, from homelessness to city finances to public safety. Here are some highlights from our conversation:

On plans to raise water rates to pay for a new surface water treatment plant and replace aging infrastructure:

M Street Arts Complex

Over the past decade, downtown Fresno's arts scene has blossomed with new galleries and studios, not to mention live-work lofts and an area filled with public art that's been dubbed the mural district. 

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

About a dozen West Fresno residents and advocates gathered in front of Fresno City Hall today to express their disapproval of a text amendment that would pave the way for Granville Homes to plant a 360-acre almond orchard in their neighborhood.

Among them was Venise Curry, a West Fresno resident and physician. She’s concerned the proposed operation could expose residents to dust and pesticides, and harm their air and water.

Amended CEQA Bill Passes Legislature

Sep 13, 2013

Democratic Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says he’s pleased with the California Environmental Quality Act changes he pushed through at the end of this year’s session – and he won’t be carrying a broader CEQA overhaul next year.

“It's always easy to say, oh, it wasn't everything that somebody else thinks it should be.  Well, I thought what was presented last year went way too far.  So I think this is an excellent result and represents real, responsible reform," says Steinberg.

City of Fresno

Jump-starting infill development is the focus of a new city ordinance being advanced today by Fresno City Councilmember Clint Olivier.

His draft ordinance, called the Best Utilization of Infill Land Development Act, or BUILD, would eliminate some development fees for new residential  construction on small vacant lots within the city.

It would waive fees that go to pay for police, fire, traffic and parks services.

A new timelapse tool released this month by Google provides Fresno residents with a stark reminder of just how quickly much of the city's nearby agriculture land has been replaced by homes, shopping centers and freeways. 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

 What some see as California’s most important environmental law, others see as an economic impediment. The 43-year-old California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, guides almost every development project in the state.

Governor Jerry Brown and many lawmakers say it’s time to modernize it. But As Amy Quinton reports, how to do that is a question with no easy answers.

Lance Johnson / Licensed under Creative Commons from Flickr user LanceJohnson

UC Merced may be less than a decade old, but the struggling economy and environmental concerns are already leading campus officials to explore the possibility of directing some of the university's future growth to off-campus locations.