Blueprint Project
Produced by Bryan Shadden

 

Those who prefer the serenity of rural life often imagine the city as a fast-paced metropolis, filled with both hustle and bustle.

But in reality, our larger cities are victims of extreme congestion, with highways that often crawl at an infuriating pace.

Home construction, on the other hand, seems to move at light speed. Suburbs often seem to blossom overnight. And the cause of congestion can often be traced to how those communities are planned.

The Sacramento Region Blueprint is a planning effort led by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments -- or SACOG -- and the civic group Valley Vision. They're hosting a series of workshops that are focused on dealing with growth.

The majority of people at these meetings aren't city planners or officials. They're ordinary citizens concerned by some alarming data: that in the next 50 years the growth problems considered bad now will only get worse.

The "base case" is the Blueprint Project's starting point, a forecast that shows reason for concern. By 2050 the region's population will balloon to 3.6 million people, and the number of homes will more than double, reaching 1.5 million. And, if cities continue to sprawl, a lot more time will be spent on those slow-moving freeways.

So the message is clear: to grow smartly in the future old habits must change.

But the people at SACOG say the worst can be avoided and to convince citizens, they're relying on a technological crystal ball: computer software called "Places Planning" that paints multiple pictures of how the future could be.

The software allows users to virtually speed up time, giving an instant glimpse of how development decisions will impact the Valley. And that access to instant information is influencing many.

The proposals creating a buzz at Blueprint workshops all point in the direction of "smart growth," and developers are starting to respond. David Mogavero is known by many in the region as a pioneer for filling in empty urban lots with creative developments.

Mogavero believes the public is hungry for innovative housing projects -- and is in some ways a step ahead of their elected officials.

But many elected officials are coming to recognize the need for smart-growth. More than 100 officials serve throughout the region, some 30 of whom make up SACOG's Board of Directors. But their smart-growth message is often diluted by local political pressures at home.

Welcome to Davis, population 60,000 and growing. With a major university and an interstate to contend with, Davis has a variety of growth issues that stir passions.

Sue Greenwald is on the Davis city council, and while she agrees smart-growth is essential she cautions that not all new developments are equal.

So what kind of housing do people want? In today's world, does the American Dream has less to do with where you live…and more to do with how you live?

Communities can take many forms -- such as Sacramento's Metro Square, a development that shows buyers are interested in smartly built communities. And David Mogavero says the proof is in the sales figures; ten hours after the sales office opened, every unit was sold.

So as demand for variety in housing grows, both local officials and citizens will need to collaborate, deciding not only what smart-growth means for their communities, but also how they should get there. And projects like the Blueprint are providing the essential first step of communication. And as more housing alternatives come on the market, buyers will ultimately be voting for their futures with their pocketbooks.


INTERVIEWS:

Mike McKeever
Project Manager, Sacramento Region Blueprint

David Mogavero
Mogavero Notestine and Associates

Sue Greenwald
Davis City Council Member

 


TRANSCRIPT:

The complete text of New Valley Episode 205: Give Me Shelter!...

 

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