Monday, July 6, 2009
No place for "green" here: Fresno top "green" city in Valley; Bakersfield (surprise!) down the list
It seems like an exercise in futility: studying which cities in the Central Valley are the "greenest" in terms of land use, zoning, transportation and economic development. Let's face it: the only thing "green" in this Valley are our magnificent farms that make us the country's bread basket. (We ain't got no stinking green here!) The rest of the story - our air, our congested roads, our short-sighted policymakers who have always put growth ahead of planning - would hardly qualify us as "green" in the environmental sense. (Now, green in the economic sense - read that profits - is another story) So I read with interest a story that, according to a study by UC Davis, Fresno came out tops among 100 Valley cities in terms of "the greenest ideas for growth over the next three decades." (read complete Fresno Bee story here) I'm still scratching my head because it's hard to imagine any cash-strapped Central Valley town as being "green" in any sense, but I suppose if you grade on the curve, then someone has to come in first. Lead author Mark Lubell suggested revising Prop 13 (good luck) which he said led to more uncontrolled growth. Said the story:
"These issues soon will become more important, Lubell said. The Central Valley -- which includes the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys -- is forecast to expand from 7 million to 12 million residents by 2040, making it one of the fastest-growing places in America. For the last 18 months, Lubell and a team of researchers looked at Central Valley cities to see whether they are preparing for sustainable growth. In the study, sustainable growth refers to such factors as air quality, ground-water recharge, high-density residential land use and renewable energy sources, such as solar."
Bakersfield apparently ranked No. 9 on the list, which in itself proves the bar wasn't set too high. Bako does have recycling, but it was only adopted after a couple of civic activists shamed the City Council into acting, and the percentage of folks who pay next-to-nothing for the blue recycling bins is abysmal. This has always been a community that has prided itself on being one of the cheapest places in California to live, and now we're living with the consequences: thousands of those cheap homes are in foreclosure, the roads remain congested and air is foul. And so it goes.
(photo of garbage truck courtesty of The Fresno Bee)