MODESTO — Most people attending Wednesday's inaugural public workshop in Modesto combining growth and transportation ideals:
Often drive alone
Expect county and city leaders to argue over road money
Would fix roads before building new ones
Want to protect farmland
Live in Modesto
Are familiar with planning issues.
We know this because the 30 attendees answered questions with hand-held electronic clickers, and results popped up immediately on an overhead screen. Similar polling is expected to repeat in the next few weeks at various service clubs and organizations and in council meetings of all nine cities in Stanislaus County.
It's also going on each day at a Web site established for Valley Vision Stanislaus, the first countywide effort specifically linking land-use and transportation planning.
A new law requires that the Stanislaus Council of Governments merge the two disciplines, explained Carlos Yamzon, the agency's executive director.
"But I like to think of it more as the right thing to do," he continued, touching on the idea that all planning should entail desire to improve lives.
"There's a saying that a trip doesn't begin with a road; it begins with a home and ends with a store, a place of employment," he said.
Wednesday's small sampling predictably drew people already versed in such issues, including a handful of elected officials. Consultant Kendall Flint got the audience talking.
"The Central Valley needs a whole new road system to get to the Bay Area," said Harold Hill. Perhaps a transit line could snake through Del Puerto Canyon west of Patterson, he said.
Emily Andrea said the area needs more paths for people walking and bicycling, who can find encounters with motor vehicles "kind of threatening."
Bob Endsley said, "It's vitally important we protect our agriculture."
Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh said Altamont Commuter Express trains should extend to Modesto soon, followed by light rail in about 28 years.
"Suburbia is the worst thing that could have been done in terms of neighbor knowing neighbor," said Wayne Bridegroom.
Karla von Hungen disagreed, saying she lived for years in San Francisco and witnessed plenty of crime and filth in compact living. "I don't like the idea of people living on top of each other," she said.
After the workshop, Josh Pohl said he's intrigued with planning and had hoped to learn more. "So I probably will come to others," he said, referring to future workshops.
A March meeting will focus on options for growth scenarios, followed by more workshops. A draft report on environmental impacts should circulate in June and July, with a final ready for adoption in October.
On the Net: www.valleyvision stanislaus.com
Written comments can be mailed by Feb. 5 to StanCOG, 1111 I St., Suite 308, Modesto 95354. Questions may be addressed at (209) 525-4600.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2390.