The California County Planning Commissioners Association held their 72nd annual education conference in Ontario, CA last week.
Commissioners representing 15 of the 58 counties attended the event entitled "The Challenges of Urbanization". The information was thorough, well presented and gave participants in more rural and suburban areas insight into what challenges they may face as sprawl seems to be taking over California communities. It gave new ideas to those already impacted by the unchecked sprawl. The "Smart Growth" initiatives being touted are almost too late for the urban areas of Southern and Northern California, but there are changes in the wind.
In his keynote address, Assemblymember John Longville brought to light the importance of a light rail transportation system. He said Metrolink has exceeded several times over the expectations of the founders.
Cheryl Brown, president of the state organization, was pleased with the results. Although attendance was down, Brown believes the Inland region needs more publicity about what is here so visitors will be excited to visit. There was excitement as the mobile workshop on Saturday took the group to the California Speedway. It demonstrated how the California Speedway replaced the terrible Brownfields left behind by Kaiser Steel. The result is an economically viable job-producing venue that will bring tourism and related activities to build up the area.
Following an opening speech by President Brown and a welcome from Keith Lee, S.B. County Associate Administrative Officer, workshop leaders laid out issues. In concurrent sessions, Attorney Penelope "Penny" Alexander-Kelley of Gresham, Varner, Savage, Nolan & Tilden, spoke of the importance in a growing environment of having mining sources close to where they are needed.
Kelley said the cost in building roads for urbanization is in the distance the sand and gravel material has to travel. It is imperative that the mining of the material for concrete to build the roads is in close proximity to where it is needed. Nadin Sponamore, an experienced urban planner and former CCPCA President presented the New Planning Commissioners training session. The organizations goal is education and for the first time in several years this workshop was re-instated.
California State University Professor Jim Mulvihill set the tone for the conference with his slide show illustrating recent developments in America's cities. He has crossed-crossed the country and looked at the ways cities are trying to change the mistakes of the past by returning to the idea of neighborhoods with white picket fences. His major address gave each commissioner something to think about.
Issues of water, affordable housing, transportation and how to create partnerships between environmentalist and developers and Ag (Agriculture) /Urban Interface were discussed by attendees at table talk time. Attendees discussed the problems and identified some solutions in the important session.
As the Chino Dairy Preserve transitions to suburbia many of the farmers are moving north and some counties have seen an increase. Chuck Coe, Director of Community Development for the City of Chino; Scott Murphy, Principal Planner for the Ontario Planning Department; and Tina Twing, a 17 year veteran specialist on the Dairy Preserve from the San Bernardino County Land Use Department, led the tour of the preserve. She explained how the Chino dairy farmers farmed then and now. Agriculture Engineer, John Schaap, became a part of the presentation and spoke about how King County is correcting the mistakes that have caused major problems produced by cow waste and the methane gas they create. Schaap said Dairy farming has changed drastically and that many lessons have been learned by the more modern operations.
The Brownfield transitions discussion was led by Craig Hatch of the Speedway, Charles McPhee of Catellus, and Pat McGuckian, Senior Associate Planner, San Bernardino County. McGuckian, in particular, spoke of the tremendous success with not only Ontario Mills and the Speedway, but the millions of square feet of office and warehouse space that Catellus is currently building.
The workshop at the Speedway was memorable. Phillip Tucker, Operations Manager, took the group on a whirlwind trip around the track and explained the Speedway operation before serving lunch in the plush press box. Photos were taken at the starting line and specifics of the history of the Speedway as well as the operation were shared.
Local elected officials attended the awards banquet. Assemblymember Longville was the speaker. Many participants are still talking about his information, wit, and humor. Also in attendance was Frank Stallworth representing State Senator Nell Soto, (who presented awardees with framed certificates), Lodi City Councilwoman Emily Howard, and Rialto School Boardmember Joann Gilbert and her husband Artist, field representative for Assemblymember Longville.
Commissioner of the Year awards were presented to Chuck McBurney, Orange County; Tim Howard, San Joaquin; and Anthony Holzhauer, Napa County Planning Commissioners. The County of the Year award was presented to San Joaquin County; Planning Director Ben Hulse accepted the award.
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