Residents of Southwest Fresno, Chinatown and Downtown Fresno came together over the course of nine public meetings facilitated by the City of Fresno to select a package that will invest $70 million of cap-and-trade funding from the State of California through the Transformative Climate Communities program.
Residents and business owners in the area were invited to attend a series of one-of-a-kind community meetings that put the power to decide how to spend the $70 million in their hands. All of the proposed projects were distilled into five packages that were presented before a steering committee of the residents and business owners.
The final vote took place last Wednesday night at the Westside Church of God and the winning package was selected by a vote of 125 to 1. Voters overwhelmingly selected a package that included a West Fresno Satellite Campus for Fresno City College, the Martin Luther King Jr. Activity Center and public park, transportation improvements, affordable housing, urban greening and local economic development.
“This process was the most collaborative and transparent that the City of Fresno has ever attempted and the near unanimity of the vote speaks to the diligence of the residents who spent countless hours identifying and analyzing projects that will ultimately transform our most vulnerable communities,” said Mayor Brand.
He added, “Thanks to the vision and hard work of former Mayor Ashley Swearengin and the Central Valley Community Foundation, Councilmember Oliver Baines, the local community groups who provided valuable input, Pastor B.T. Lewis, Pastor Paul Binion and Westside Church of God, and most importantly, the residents and business owners of Southwest Fresno, Chinatown, and Downtown Fresno, we have a package of projects to present to the State that will truly transform these valuable communities.”
“I’m proud of the residents and stakeholders of all the communities that participated. This is the most collaborative process that Fresno and maybe the State of California has ever seen in the decisions of how to invest public dollars. More important than the projects that came out of this process was the spirit of unity and togetherness that people from different communities had for each other. In my opinion that was the ‘Transformational’ part of this process that will outlive the investments,” said Councilmember Oliver Baines, who chaired the Transformative Climate Communities Steering Committee and represents the majority of the communities that stand to benefit from these funds.
The Transformative Climate Communities Collaborative was created to bring together local leaders to identify investments that will catalyze economic and environmental transformation in Southwest, Chinatown and downtown Fresno. The City of Fresno and the Central Valley Community Foundation (CVCF) partnered together to provide support for the community meetings.
The $70 million was approved by the California Strategic Growth Council in November 2016 for projects that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the development and implementation of neighborhood-level transformative climate community plans that include multiple, coordinated GHG emissions reduction projects that provide local economic, environmental, and health benefits to disadvantaged communities.