Momentous decision will greatly limit sprawl in Stockton until 2035

Last Tuesday night potentially changed the trajectory of our city as we know it, and this is not hyperbole. In a stunning rebuke to 60 years of poor land use ...

Survey says: Stocktonians want new growth paradigm, reject sprawling patterns of the past

Tonight, the Stockton City Council is hosting a “study session” on the General Plan. Specifically, they’ll hear from staff about three “Land Use Alternatives” and provide feedback about which direction ...

Stockton at a crossroads: Council to give direction to staff on General Plan map

Long time followers of this website know that I started Stockton City Limits on a very simple premise: Stockton should curb excessive outward growth and instead prioritize infill development in ...

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A tale of two drive thrus: Why the city should uphold a denial of a drive thru bank in Downtown

Late last year, a minor outrage ensued when it was revealed that ...

Don’t take the LAO’s report seriously, Stockton still deserves a CSU campus

Last week, a highly anticipated report was released by the Legislative Analyst’s ...

What a Trump presidency means for Stockton

Living in California, it’s easy to feel removed from the national political ...

our recent work...

Downtown Stockton does not have a shortage of parking

A lot has changed in the two years since I moved back to work in Downtown Stockton, almost all of it for the better. But one thing that has not changed (and I fear may never change) is one particular item: the debate about parking. It seems you can’t get two sentences in to a […]

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Stockton’s bike plan update is underway, have you participated?

Anyone who has ever ridden a bike in Stockton knows this sad fact: this is not a cycling town. There’s no infrastructure in place. Almost no bike lanes or bike routes, and the ones that do exist are laughably placed on streets where no one in their right mind should be cycling (who would ever […]

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Let’s stop comparing Stockton to Lathrop, Manteca, or Tracy

Last week, the City Council passed the “Stockton Economic Stimulus Plan,” reducing Public Facility Fees for homebuilders throughout the city. Depending on your point of view, this temporary reduction is either a job creator that will jump start the city’s stagnant construction sector, or a giveaway to single family home builders who will surely only […]

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Stockton City Council approves building fee reduction

Earlier this week, developer interests proved once again that they still wield influence with the Stockton City Council. For months, council members have debated different proposals to reduce permit fees to spur home-building. The process has involved numerous meetings and at least two comprehensive reports by city staff on differing versions of the officially titled […]

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Debate on homebuilder fees nearing finish line

Reducing developer fees was the main issue debated during the Nov. 3 Stockton City Council meeting, at least the third time the issue has been discussed in earnest. When the marathon session ended after several hours, the consensus was that more analysis was necessary before action could be taken. Despite the glacial pace, the delay […]

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UOP lays out economic trends in Stockton and San Joaquin

Last week, I had the honor of speaking at the University of the Pacific’s Center for Business and Policy Research’s 2015 State of the Northern San Joaquin Valley conference. Myself and a group of panelists discussed downtown revitalization in the region, with specific attention given to Downtown Stockton. But the real highlight of the conference […]

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“Stockton Economic Stimulus” for homebuilders gaining steam

A proposal crafted by developers to reduce fees that pay for vital city infrastructure took another step toward passage following a special study session of the Stockton City Council on Oct. 13. The plan was written by the Building Industry Association (BIA), which represents the interests of Central Valley builders. If approved by the council […]

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General Plan update coming, but will it hit right notes?

Since a 2008 settlement with the state attorney general’s office, Stockton has been under a legal mandate to update its General Plan to reduce sprawl and develop the city’s core. So far, that effort has been strangled by bureaucracy or stalled in the name of sorting out the city’s bankruptcy. But according to a pair […]

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Council shelves fee reduction for single-family homes

Those calling for caution in regards to Stockton’s growth and future finances won a measured but meaningful victory Tuesday, Aug. 18, at City Hall. The City Council decided to conduct further study regarding the “Stockton Economic Stimulus Plan” proposed by Mayor Anthony Silva after hearing from several individuals and organizations. (Full disclosure: I was one […]

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City Council approves new program to incentivize Downtown Stockton development

On Tuesday evening, the city council unanimously approved a new tool to jump start large-scale downtown revitalization efforts. By a vote of 6-0, the council gave the green light to the Downtown Infill Infrastructure Incentive Program that will provide reimbursements for infrastructure improvements that are tied to major downtown investments. The program was presented by […]

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RTD planning new Metro Express route in South Stockton

As cities across the country clamor for more reliable public transportation infrastructure, Stockton is quietly laying the groundwork for an expansion of its wildly popular Bus Rapid Transit service known as the Metro Express.

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Where’s the best location for a CSU Stockton?

Much has been made recently regarding a potential full-fledged California State University in Stockton, and rightfully so. It’s pretty remarkable that a city of our size has been overlooked for a state school while places such as Humboldt, San Marcos, and Chico have campuses. Even the largely unpopulated Channel Islands has a CSU! Given Stockton’s […]

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Should Stockton lower building fees for greenfield development?

Just a few weeks ago, the Building and Industry Association of the Delta proposed cutting permitting for fees for single family homes in order to jump start construction on the outskirts of Stockton. On Monday, The Record also had an article musing on the possibility of a housing shortage given an increasing population and lack […]

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GUEST POST: South Stockton corridor ripe with potential, opportunity

By Derek Ouyang In the face of modern urban political, economic, social, and environmental challenges, interdisciplinary collaboration between professionals, data-driven research, and holistic design will become increasingly crucial to sustainable urban planning. Fascinated by the educational opportunity this context presented, in 2011 I co-founded the Global Urban Development Program (GUDP) at Stanford University as a project-based […]

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Council approves first step of major Downtown Stockton project

Some Stocktonians have waited through decades of fights, busts and disappointment hoping to see the city’s downtown injected with new life. So it was fitting that an ambitious proposal won its first City Council approval only after an interminable, contentious and completely unrelated public comment period. But the fracas over an appointment to a city […]

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The future of Downtown Stockton starts today

I first started SCL three years ago with a goal: to get people talking about the revitalization of Stockton, downtown in particular. My topics ranged from walkability, historic preservation and the economic benefits of investment in existing urban areas over paving over farm land. About two years ago, I was introduced to Zac Cort of […]

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Tragic shooting sheds light on need for comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plans

Everyone loves to bash Stockton these days. The thing is, those of us that live here, love the city.  We know there are good parts, and parts that are struggling– like any other city.  And the citizens of these struggling areas are just as concerned as the citizens of areas with less crime, though they often feel […]

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Biennial homeless census reveals deep need for affordable housing in San Joaquin County

According to a report released Tuesday, March 17, there are more homeless individuals than ever on the streets of San Joaquin County. A point-in-time count conducted during the last week of January interviewed 541 people in the county who were staying on the streets, in a car, under an overpass, or in another place not […]

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SCL turns three years old as Stocktonians search for a more urban city

This past weekend, Stockton City Limts officially turned three years old. Started with a modest ambition of getting a handful of people to start talking about ways to improve Stockton through better land use planning, sensible growth and reinvestment in existing urban areas, I am proud to say that SCL is now the premiere resource […]

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Downtown Stockton sees 21% decrease in crime

Downtown Stockton is maligned by many as being unsafe, a notion often cited as a determining factor for avoiding the neighborhood for anything other than jury duty. And on the surface, downtown can appear unseemly at times with graffiti, litter and panhandlers further perpetuating the view that downtown is crime-infested. To this point, The Record […]

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With recession lifting, will sprawl resume?

As Stockton shakes off the storm clouds of bankruptcy and looks to a brighter future, it’s fair to wonder if smart growth will be a forgotten priority. Though the City Council and city planners embraced the imperative for a more sustainable, less sprawl-filled future during the city’s time in bankruptcy, there seems to be little […]

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Downtown Stockton needs to raise the bar on parking garages

Parking is always a hot-button issue in any urban core, and Stockton is no exception. This debate is usually centered on the availability of parking, i.e. whether or not there is enough parking, if parking is priced correctly, etc. In Downtown Stockton, there’s no shortage of these conversations. Some believe that parking should be free […]

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Lathrop’s River Islands seeks foothold in ACE Rail expansion plan

The first houses of a massive development are hitting the open market and the project’s developers hope the growth eventually shifts the orbit of rail transit in southern San Joaquin County. But the ambitious idea could end up running off the tracks before it gathers significant steam. According to Susan Dell’Osso, Project Director of the […]

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The top infill sites in Stockton that are NOT downtown

When talking infill development in Stockton, Downtown garners the lion’s share of attention, and rightfully so. Downtown Stockton has a perfect street grid structure, strong transit hubs, a plethora of architecturally significant buildings and lots of open lots. These characteristics make the neighborhood the premier spot for infill in Stockton. But the conversation about infill […]

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Sprawl looms large over General Plan meeting

Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting on the General Plan update was intended to discuss neighborhood centers, but the topic of sprawl was clearly looming large over the near-capacity crowd. “There’s a debate out there about how the city should be approaching the lands to the north of Eight Mile Road. It’s an old debate, and it’s […]

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Why HOV lanes won’t help I-5

With all of the construction taking place on Interstate 5, one would think that Stockton was awash in traffic jams. But that’s not the case. On most mornings, I commute south on I-5 to get to work in Downtown Stockton. During this drive, traffic is always free flowing. I only spend about eight minutes total […]

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Stockton’s 2014 growth, development, and urbanism year in review

As 2014 comes to a close, it’s time to look back at the most important stories in Stockton over the past year with regards to growth, development and urbanism. In all, the city took some big steps forward, winning money to enhance pedestrian and cycling projects, approving downtown housing, and adopting a couple of important […]

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Why has anti-smart growth sentiment bypassed Stockton?

When I moved back to work in Stockton earlier this year, I expected some resistance to the smart growth policies I advocated for. In most other California cities, there has been some serious push back against sensible planning and walkability. So, I came back to Stockton fully prepared to defend these ideas at planning meetings […]

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City council approves Grand View Village housing development for Downtown Stockton

A Stockton City Council vote will help two Stockton-based developers take the next step in redeveloping downtown and proving that the city’s revitalization movement can be homegrown.

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Latest General Plan maps show city preparing for more sprawl

A disappointing Planning Commission staff report made its way to my email inbox the other day. Despite months of public meetings where Stockton residents expressed consistent and overwhelming support for focusing efforts on improving existing neighborhoods within the city, a recently released Planning Commission agenda outlines potential neighborhood centers in parts of the city that […]

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Stocktonians demand walkability, more transportation options at General Plan meeting

Stocktonians want pedestrian friendly streets, more biking options and less investment in road widening. That’s the takeaway from data released by the city showing the results of a General Plan workshop survey conducted in August where citizens were asked to vote for their transportation priorities for the city. Way back in August, the city held […]

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Stockton approves “historic” Climate Action Plan

After eight painstaking years, Stockton finally has a Climate Action Plan. Tuesday night, the city council unanimously passed the landmark plan with ambitious but achievable goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Stockton.

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Meet Cindi Fargo, the new CEO of the Downtown Stockton Alliance

Cindi Fargo has only been CEO of the Downtown Stockton Alliance for less than two weeks, but she’s already jumping into the job of revitalizing Downtown Stockton with both feet. “I see nothing but opportunity here,” Fargo said during a Nov. 21 interview with Stockton City Limits. “Of course we have our challenges — this […]

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Affordable housing summit hosted in Stockton

Developers, state policy representatives and housing advocates from up and down the Central Valley convened in Stockton last Thursday at the annual San Joaquin Valley Affordable Housing Summit to discuss one of the biggest issues to face the region in the coming years: affordable housing.

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Weston Ranch disincorporation talk reveals rift in Stockton

As you’ve probably heard by now, a handful of individuals are making a push for the Weston Ranch neighborhood to formally leave the city of Stockton. As reported by The Record and other local media outlets, some citizens of this South Stockton neighborhood are unhappy with what they are perceiving as  a lack of attention […]

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What “affordable housing” means for Downtown Stockton

What is affordable housing? With the Cal-Weber 40 project approved for tax credits in late September, there have been some reservations expressed about whether building affordable communities will really bring anything to the table in terms of downtown revitalization. The quick answer is, yes, they will, but some clarification is needed on what affordable housing […]

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New SUSD curriculum aims to boost Stockton’s civic IQ

It’s an old cliché that people get the government they deserve. If that’s the case, for many years Stockton’s residents earned a failing grade for their civic literacy and involvement, rewarded with leadership that oversaw sprawling expansion and a slide toward municipal bankruptcy. But a new effort is trying to give the next generation of […]

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SCL City Council election profiles: Gene Acevedo and Susan Lofthus

This week, SCL is profiling candidates for Stockton City Council. We asked questions about the growth of Stockton and let the candidates respond. Today, we profile the race for Stockton’s 3rd District which includes Quail Lakes, Lincoln Village and Delta College. The candidates running for this open seat are Gene Acevedo and Susan Lofthus. Gene Acevedo Stockton […]

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SCL City Council election profiles: Dyane Burgos Medina and Christina Fugazi

This week, SCL is profiling candidates for Stockton City Council. We asked questions about the growth of Stockton and let the candidates respond. Today, we profile the race for Stockton’s 5th District, which includes the Magnolia Historic District, Downtown Stockton and parts of South Stockton. The candidates running to represent this district are the incumbent Dyane Burgos […]

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Can we please stop the “Downtown needs a grocery store before anyone will move there” nonsense?

I often have conversations with others about what it’s going to take to get people to live downtown. The discussion can range from housing to safety to transportation to affordability. But one of the more puzzling opinions I encounter is that people won’t live downtown unless there is a grocery store. Without this amenity, residential […]

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Stockton’s draft General Plan neighborhood map: A return to business as usual?

Stockton’s planning department recently released a draft General Plan neighborhood map, supposedly created with feedback from the department’s July General Plan workshop where city residents provided personalized input on where they thought neighborhood boundaries should fall (You can view the staff report here and accompanying map here). Interestingly enough, the new draft General Plan map […]

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Central Valley cities ignored in new California infill development program

Last week, the state released draft guidelines for the much anticipated Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) program. With California now collecting revenue from the new Cap and Trade program, there is now dedicated funding for infill projects that demonstrate the ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create sustainable and equitable communities. Unfortunately, the […]

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San Joaquin Bike Fest highlights changing bike culture in Stockton

It’s been a good couple months for increasing biking potential in Stockton. The state’s Active Transportation Program recently awarded funds to the city to update the Bicycle Master Plan, to create a Safe Routes to School plan and to rehabilitate the San Joaquin Trail – a bike and pedestrian path – in South Stockton.

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It’s time to turn Center and El Dorado back into two-way streets

Have you ever tried to cross Center Street by foot to get to Weber Point? How about trying to get from City Hall from the east side of El Dorado Street? It’s definitely not easy, with cars bearing down at speeds approaching 40mph. And with so few protected crosswalks, you’re sometimes forced to play Frogger, […]

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Stockton wins money for biking and pedestrian projects

Walkers and cyclists in Stockton received some great news last week as the state announced grants for several active transportation projects in the city. Last Wednesday, the California Transportation Commission announced the winning bids for the state’s Active Transportation Program (ATP) which provides funding to projects that promote walking, biking and other forms of active […]

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Downtown Stockton parking in need of serious overhaul

Parking management in Downtown Stockton is overdue for much needed upgrades according to a recent review by city-hired parking consultant Kimley Horn and Associates (KHA). The report, “Parking Program Operations and Organizational Assessment,” catalogs many of the challenges the current Central Parking District faces in the wake of Stockton’s bankruptcy and limited revenue and staffing […]

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Could Stockton’s urban renewal start on the water?

A bit more lawlessness might be just the thing Downtown Stockton needs to kick its rebirth into high gear. It might seem counterintuitive, but those familiar with urban renewal suggest a bit of rule-bending sometimes helps communities take root in historic urban cores. They’re not suggesting the lawlessness of assaults, vandalism or petty theft, but […]

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Who are we planning for? First Stockton General Plan workshop sees high turnout, few south Stockton residents or youth

If last week’s standing-room only turnout for the city’s regular Planning Commission meeting is any indication, the people of Stockton (albeit a specific set of people, more on that later) want a say in how their city grows. The regularly scheduled meeting was the venue for the first of several general plan amendment workshops where […]

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Stockton’s first green, buffered bike lanes coming in 2017

Stockton isn’t exactly known as “bike friendly.” While other cities large and small have prioritized cycling infrastructure, our city continues to lag behind the curve. Even as our neighbors in Sacramento and Modesto make huge strides this area, cyclists and pedestrians in Stockton are left wondering when the city will be responsive to their needs. […]

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Will housing succeed in Downtown Stockton? It’s working in Fresno

  Fresno, for all intents and purposes, is a larger version of Stockton. Similar socioeconomic challenges, climate, and cost of living. The same can be said of both city’s downtowns. Both feature rich architectural history, but have been besieged by empty buildings and blight. Given these similarities, Stockton compares much more closely to Fresno than […]

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