By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Residents Envision County's Future
Placeholder Image
Stanislaus County residents are planning how the county will look by the year 2050, how it should grow, where it should grow, how we will travel around the region, how growth will affect the environment and how growth will impact the overall quality of life.

While experts are preparing a so-called 'Blueprint' for each of the eight counties in the San Joaquin Valley, representatives of the Stanislaus County Council of Governments and consulting landscape planners met with Riverbank residents on Monday evening to explain what they envision for Stanislaus County.

Among further meetings slated this month, they have set one from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for July 15 in at the Gene Bianchi Community Center in Oakdale for residents of the Oakdale, Valley Home and Knights Ferry areas.

The Blueprint, according to the COG pamphlets, "is a preferred regional transportation, land use and environmental vision that responds to the many challenges associated with population growth."

It is estimated this county's population - rated at 514,000 in 2005 - will increase to 822,000 by 2030 and reach 1.2 million by 2050.

Speakers at Monday's Community Center gathering asked local residents to assign priorities to the plan's various aspects such as community, environment, land use, economy, transportation, education, government and public safety.

Most aspects won 12 or more points but government garnered only seven points and sense of community three.

"Groundwater is becoming an item of concern both for agricultural and commercial use," said local activist Scott McRitchie. "We need more dams to save runoff but not necessarily on the rivers. Environment goes hand in hand with land use."

"There should be a comprehensive plan for infill development," added community leader Frank McHugh of the land use aspect. "People moved here to enjoy the countryside. We can concentrate housing and build upwards in condos and apartments, make the best use of the space we have."

"We need to reduce our dependence on cars," said city councilmember Virginia Madueno, stressing the need for a varied transportation system. "We must think outside the box. See what other countries are doing. I've just come back from a trip to Mexico and Mexico has it together (in its public bus and train transportation system)."

The educational system here "is not turning out what we need to bring in high tech businesses," McRitchie offered. "We're lagging against our competitors. Either we must keep kids longer in high school or redesign the system with more vocational education."

Businessman Daryl Daniel spoke of public safety, saying it's expensive to provide, but essential for all.

"We need people to fight the fires, for instance," he said. "We must keep our stores safe, free from burglars and vandals."

Turning to the coming population growth, one consultant asked how far residents wanted to go in making residential development more compact, placing housing, jobs and shops closer together, infilling vacant property, providing more public transit and making neighborhoods "walkable" with a mix of housing types.

Of the four options he offered ranging from "baseline as is" up to major change, most of those attending the meeting chose "major change."

By 2050, the average age of county residents will be much older with residents who typically seek smaller living spaces and prefer to live in cities near to services, he said. Even now developers have begun to build smaller houses on urban lots as opposed to the single-family homes in the country.