This Week at City Hall 6/6/2011

Draft form-based codes part of big year ahead for downtown Fresno

The next 12 months will be exciting times for the future of downtown Fresno. We have done a tremendous amount of planning and preparation over the past 18 months that will lead to action in the next year.

One of the first big milestones came last week with the release of the draft of the new form-based codes for downtown Fresno, which is available for public comment at

Here is how the City’s downtown and community revitalization experts describe this effort:

This is a critically important step because the zoning code is a city's DNA. It tells you what can be built, and what activities can happen and in which places. Like a body's DNA, the zoning code tells you how your city will grow and develop over time.

Over the last few decades, powerful forces have changed how Fresno develops. A new house built today looks and works differently from the new houses of pre-World War II era. Even new downtown buildings became more oriented to automobiles and less toward people on the sidewalk. Not surprisingly, our zoning code changed too. It made suburban buildings the expected norm for the entire city, even where they didn't belong. The zoning code made it possible to build the wrong thing in the right place.

The draft Code is a new method of zoning for Fresno that is gaining popularity across the country -- a code that regulates building form as well as use, because the way buildings are built affects the way the neighborhoods around them work.

Good investments make for good places over time. Like any code, the new draft Downtown Development Code isn't designed to produce change overnight. Rather, like DNA, it is will guide investments large and small that are made every day. The goal is to reverse long-running trends of disinvestment and foster healthy, mixed-income neighborhoods over time.

If you'd like a primer before you dive in, join City officials and the Code authors on Monday, June 13, at 5 p.m. in Council Chambers and Fresno City Hall. You can RSVP on our Facebook page.

We look forward to seeing and hearing from you!

Mayor Swearengin’s Activities
While some of these activities outlined below are not public meetings, these are some of the issues being addressed this week by Mayor Swearengin:

  • Participating in the grand opening of the Fresno Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s new “Downtown Business Hub,” the first bilingual business incubator in the western United States.

  • Discussing high-speed rail issues with Congressman Jeff Denham and representatives from the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation and the Fresno Business Council.

  • Providing the keynote address at the graduation ceremony for Leadership Fresno Class 27. We recently recognized the class for its community garden service project at Al Radka Park in southeast Fresno.

  • Participating in the monthly meeting of the PBID Partners of Downtown Fresno board of directors.

  • Meeting with officials from Fresno Coalition for Arts, Science and History (FCASH) to discuss the upcoming conference, “Vital to the Valley: A Celebration of the Arts.”

  • Providing brief remarks at Heald College’s 10th annual Honors Luncheon.

  • Discussing the proposed extension of the Eaton Trail with Councilmember Andreas Borgeas and representatives of the San Joaquin River Conservancy and River Parkway Trust.

State of the City address available online
It was an honor for Mayor Swearengin to share her vision for the City of Fresno at the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce’s State of the City event last week.

A copy of the Mayor’s speech is available on the City’s website here. A video of the speech also is available on the website at

‘Go Green and Clean’ at Koligian Park
Each Saturday, volunteers are hard at work in our “Go Green and Clean” park beautification program. Volunteers participate in basic park care through litter removal, flower bed raking, pruning, painting, graffiti removal and other light tasks from 8 a.m. to noon.

On Saturday, June 4, volunteers are needed to work at Koligian Park, 5165 W. Alluvial.

Volunteers are encouraged to wear long pants, hats, gloves and sun block and bring plenty of drinking water. Basic work tools and supplies will be provided by the City of Fresno. Each volunteer will be required to complete a volunteer form and waiver.

Follow Mayor Swearengin, City of Fresno on Twitter
For up-to-date information on happenings related to the City of Fresno, follow Mayor Swearengin on Twitter @MayorSwearengin or the City of Fresno @CityofFresno.