Stanislaus Council of Governments (StanCOG) is looking to improve the quality of life valley-wide.
From an environmental standpoint, StanCOG is concerned where residents will work, live, and what transportation will be available. They aim to “use resources efficiently, protect existing communities, conserve farmland and open space, and support our local economy” via the Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy.
To do this, they are looking to work collaboratively with the county of Stanislaus and its towns and cities, including Ceres, Hughson, Modesto, Newman, Oakdale, Patterson, Riverbank, Turlock and Waterford.
The “Valley Vision” team has been coming to local communities and leading workshops in order for community members to get involved in the planning and have their voice be heard. This past Wednesday, Aug. 2, they came to the Bianchi Center to give their presentation in Oakdale.
According to the handout provided at the project overview, “Senate Bill 374 requires planners to consider how land use and transportation planning can be coordinated to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” They then must look to plan housing, jobs, and services “to be located in a way that helps reduce the amount of travel we do day-to-day in our cars and trucks,” meaning that they encourage using trains, BART, bikes, and walking.
A member of the consulting team explained that they’re “looking for truly a big emphasis on transportation investments.”
This was addressed in the questions section of the presentation. Each attendee used a clicker to indicate their feelings on various subjects including transportation policy, what was most important in their community, and what they hope to see improve in the next 30 years.
The attendees of the project overview were hesitant about compact growth – building upward into two and three story buildings – but also did not have much enthusiasm about growing outside of Oakdale, for example, along the expansion of land aside Highway 120 between town and the golf course. However, they were interested in upcoming train expansion to make the railroads more accessible across Stanislaus and expanding and enhancing the pedestrian network. Most important to those present was improving air quality and conserving farmland.
Kendall Flint, the Outreach Task Manager for the Regional Government Services, noted that this was not her first presentation in Oakdale. She said that she’d shared the same vision about four years ago to a group of 20 people. The crowd had dwindled down to a fourth of that by her following visit last Wednesday. Though the number of attendees was small, it encapsulated a diverse pocket of community members, ranging from ages 18 to over 60, and with varying interests in mind.
Flint expressed that this smaller crowd has the potential to be a “good thing, because they’re starting to understand what we’re doing.”
The workshop included not only a questions section to get the community’s opinions, but also gave a layout of what residents in Stanislaus can expect from StanCOG’s Valley Vision – a “shared regional vision.” Flint explained that they look for “environmental justice” and for investments that will make people get out of their cars, and onto bikes or start walking around.
The plan is scheduled to take 18 months, and will finish in late 2018. A timeline was available during the presentation. From July 2017 to August 2017, StanCOG established goals and policies and explored demographic and revenue projections. August 2017 will consist of creating land use and investment scenarios. October 2017 to March 2018 is when they will perform technical studies as well as prepare a draft and final plan. In November 2017 to June 2018, they plan to do an environmental review.
StanCOG wanted to stress that the Valley Vision does not supersede local land use authority. Their “aggressive” public outreach programs aim to inform the community of this and hope to get local’s opinions on what’s most important to them within their district.
For more information on the Valley Vision or how to host a workshop within a club, visit ValleyVisionStanislaus.org or call principal planner Elisabeth Hahn at firstname.lastname@example.org.