California Strategic Growth Council executive director Randall Winston (front) and Shared Spaces Landscape Architecture leader Steven R. Cancian (back) address the room at the Californian during the Transformative Climate Communities Collaborative’s first steering committee. Fresno is in the running for a $70 million grant from California towards green projects aimed at community revitalization. The funds are coming the state’s cap-and-trade program.
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
Fresno is part of a pilot program that could provide up to $70 million in green development projects aimed at helping the environment and revitalizing the city.
On Thursday evening at the Californian assisted living facility at 851 Van Ness Ave. in downtown Fresno, about 200 people — residents, business owners, community leaders and city officials — met to discuss the proposed project and the go over the application process.
“We have decided as a community to open this project process up to all of us — that we have an opportunity to bring input to this very unique opportunity we have,” said Fresno City Councilman Oliver L. Baines III. “It’s very rare to do something like this. In many respects, I’m very nervous, but I’m going to get over my anxiety and I’m going to trust my community.”
The Transformative Climate Communities Program is administered by the California Strategic Growth Program, and the grant funding will come from cap-and-trade revenue, which is generated by industries purchasing credits that allow them to emit certain levels of carbon.
These benefits are aimed at helping disadvantaged communities in California. The projects will be done within an area of five square miles.
The funding is targeted to benefit community members of downtown, Chinatown and southwest Fresno. However, some residents expressed doubts and concerns over the project. In particular, members of the southwest portion of the city stated that they had been promised revitalization projects and assistance before, but never saw the fruits of such promises. Another woman in attendance complained that the projects were instead being given to the northern portion of Fresno.
Nonetheless, the presenters of the program emphasized the need for cooperation and collaboration in order to get a working plan for the city in motion.
“As a city, we’re going to compete for money,” said Steven R. Cancian, head of Shared Spaces Landscape Architecture, a community-based participatory landscape architecture firm specializing in projects like this. “In order to give to the city, we have to come together and choose a package of projects.”
On Aug. 1., a community committee overseeing the program locally will release a call for project concepts.
“We are in fact competing with other cities in the state,” Cancian said. “We have great confidence that we’re going to get this money.”