Modesto students turn into city planners

Seniors check out visions of future

naustin@modbee.comSeptember 4, 2013 

NA Mo High planning 1

Kendall Flint of Flint Strategies, a consulting team hired by Stanislaus leaders to help develop a countywide planning document, leads a discussion on housing density with Modesto High seniors in Modesto, Calif., on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013.

NAN AUSTIN — The Modesto Bee Buy Photo

    alternate textNan Austin
    Title: Education reporter
    Coverage areas: K-12 education, Yosemite Community College District
    Bio: Nan Austin has been a copy editor and reporter at The Modesto Bee for 24 years. She has an economics degree from CSU Stanislaus and previously worked at the Merced Sun-Star and Turlock Journal.
    Recent stories written by Nan
    On Twitter: @nanaustin

— High school seniors looked at different visions for the valley's future and saw pretty much what older generations did.

The Modesto High votes favored less sprawl, but keeping the rural character as Stanislaus County plans how it will look when these students are parents and grandparents.

"They're actually quite smart about it," said Kendall Flint, who presented the Valley Vision Stanislaus session to gather input and raise awareness with high school seniors last week.

Classes in general opted for slightly more dense living, to save ag land and lower pollution and road costs. "But they don't want to see Stockton-ization or San Francisco-ization," Flint said. They wanted to keep the area's rural community feel.

Flint gave seniors four choices for future living density, covering traffic problems, pollution, safety and costs associated with each.

Time after time, the majority of students took the middle road. But individuals had a range of opinions.

Student Alexis Dye, who said she works for the city, said the downtown area needs major changes and more vitality. "What we have right now isn't working," she said.

Government teacher Scott Calkins said local planning was not something the seniors had covered so far, but the discussion added relevance to many of the topics he'll be covering.

"These kids are stakeholders. If they're planning 28 years out, these kids will be my age," Calkins said.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at or (209) 578-2339, on Twitter, @NanAustin,

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