The path to spend $70 million in Fresno was made a little clearer. The Strategic Growth Council (SGC), the state agency in charge of distributing the money raised by state Cap & Trade funds, released its latest guidelines on how communities can apply for the money.
Fresno is set to receive half of the $140 million raised statewide with the goal of improving the health and air quality of some of the state’s dirtiest areas. With its latest Revised Draft Scoping Guidelines, the SGC spells out its rules and regulations on how to distribute that money. Fresno is slated half of those funds. Los Angeles is scheduled to receive 25%, with a third city (many based in southern California, but other Fresno County cities like Fowler, Mendota, Reedley and Selma are eligible) to receive the remainder.
After holding a series of meetings in Fresno and the rest of the state, the SGC determined the money should be spent in a five-square mile area entirely within the city. The five mile tract must fall within the top-polluted neighborhoods, as determined by CalEnviroScreen 3.0. Much of Fresno falls within that range, especially the southern and western parts of the city.
The five-square-mile zone replaces a rule that would require projects be built within a half-mile of the High Speed Rail station. Many advocates for neighborhoods in southwest Fresno protested, feeling that area was too limiting. Now, the SGC agrees.
Advocates for southwest Fresno have been pushing hard for the funding to be spent in their neighborhoods. Mayor Lee Brand has constantly said he wants the money spent in the downtown area. Representatives in southeast Fresno want money coming their way. Whatever the plans are, it has to be within a five-square mile zone.
The draft plan also spells out who can apply. Interested groups must form a Collaborative Stakeholder Structure to submit one application “based upon a shared vision,” the guideline says. Transparent decision-making and involving community representatives are other requirements. For the Fresno project, the collaborative is being administered by the Central Valley Community Foundation.
Another requirement that was protested but remains is the need for projects to raise 50% of the funds. That means, to receive the $70 million, groups would have to raise an additional $35 million.
This is only a proposed guideline, with final proposal expected later this fall. The SGC will return to Fresno on June 22 for a workshop from 6-8 p.m. at Yokomi Elementary School (2323 E. McKenzie Ave. in Fresno).
Update: We asked Councilman Luis Chavez, who represents southeast Fresno for his reaction. He e-mailed us this response:
I’m encouraged by the recognition of the strategic growth council that other areas of the city are in need of resources as well. Likewise, I’m also encouraged that parts of southeast Fresno will be included in this preliminary assessment of eligible neighborhoods. As you know the Brookings institute identified census tracts within southeast Fresno that have the 2nd highest concentrations of poverty (nationwide). Cap and trade dollars were intended to specifically serve these aforementioned areas/zip codes.
In addition, this preliminary eligibility designation has the potential to benefit “shovel ready” ready projects in southeast Fresno. Our recent investments in water/sewer (southeast water treatment plant), Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Fresno Unified construction bonds and State Center Community College District bonds position us for investments. Southeast Fresno is poised for growth, economic development and investments- our district welcomes these opportunities.
Our office will closely monitor the final guidelines for eligibility.
What are your thoughts? Leave your comments below.
Contact David Taub
Phone: 559-492-4037 / e-mail
This story was not subject to the approval of Granville Homes.
Want these stories delivered directly to your e-mail inbox? Subscribe today.