Today’s installment of news and notes includes the county’s update to its general plan, an update on President Obama’s pledge to help the country’s hardest-hit cities, and the 2013 release of the Forbes Most Miserable list.
San Joaquin County General Plan to limit sprawl? The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors meet last week to discuss an update to the county’s general plan, the document which guides future land use planning decisions. I have not seen a copy of the plan, but according to the Record, the updates appear to be more smart-growth friendly, placing a greater emphasis on infill development and away from farmland. It’s great to hear that the county understands the need to refocus the region’s growth patterns in a way that is sustainable in the long run. If the growth pattern of the last ten years were to continue unimpeded, San Joaquin County would eventually resemble an amoeba of indistinguishable cities, much like Southern California.
The Record article was also a bit confusing, noting that the board decided to “not limit commercial and industrial development to major highways, to not exclude new residential development in rural areas, and to look at appropriate areas to expand urban limits or develop away from existing urban centers.” This seems to directly contradict the board’s goal of preserving farmland, and the Stockton-based slow growth group Campaign for Common Ground raised some concerns. To be fair, I haven’t seen the plan, so I can’t make assumptions one way or another if the commission is sincere in their efforts to preserve farmland and refocus growth inward. I certainly hope they are.
Still no word from the White House- As of this weekend, the Obama Administration has not elaborated on the president’s State of the Union pledge to help the “20 hardest-hit towns in America” However, President Obama has dropped some hints of what this assistance might look like while stumping in Chicago for his second-term agenda:
[President Obama] promised that his administration would partner with the 20 hardest-hit towns, working with local leaders to direct resources to public safety, education and housing, and proposed new tax credits for businesses that hire and invest.
Obama’s remarks seem to indicate a somewhat different approach than the Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative I discussed a couple of weeks ago. This initiative targeted hard-luck cities for federal assistance in a variety of areas. Either way, any assistance from Washington would be welcome news here in the valley. Congressman Jerry McNerney is advocating for Stockton‘s inclusion in Obama’s plan, I am eager to see what happens next.
Forbes at it again- Lastly, our good friends at Forbes’ Magazine released this year’s edition of their “Most Miserable Cities” rankings, with Stockton coming in at number eight (the link is to the Record article, not Forbes Magazine because I don’t want to contribute to the list’s view counter.) And just like previous editions of this list, the criteria used by Forbes remain superfluous and unscientific. Northern California was well represented, with Modesto, Sacramento and Vallejo also landing amongst the top 20.