Lee Brand's lofty task: turn City Hall dreams into reality

Ashley Swearengin’s plans raised expectations sky-high. Lee Brand is tasked with implementing the plans and meeting the expectations.

Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan



The Skinny: Imagine the geography of Fresno in the days leading up to the start of World War II (Sept. 1, 1939, not Dec. 7, 1941). We’re talking about 11 square miles of turf. The city, even at the end of the Great Depression, was dynamic. Subsequent decades took their toil on this once-grand landscape. The Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan is to restore its rightful eminence.

The Rundown: “The goal of this Community Plan is to capitalize on the positive momentum for Downtown revitalization and put specific policies and actions into place to guide the rejuvenation of the Downtown neighborhoods that brings about lasting prosperity and improvements. This is achieved by: Establishing Downtown as the heart of Fresno; Reviving and/or transforming each of the Plan’s subareas based upon their unique identity; Establishing mixed-use neighborhood centers at important intersections that are within easy walking distance of surrounding residences and connect to existing and future transit networks; Improving the quality of the Plan Area’s corridors by introducing street trees, traffic-calming measures, pedestrian amenities such as crosswalks, street lights and street furniture, and creating bicycle-friendly corridors; and Creating a framework for improving neighborhoods in order to attract private investment back to the center of the City.” (Source: Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan)

The Pledge: “In a vibrant neighborhood, a range of housing options are offered so that if your income increases or your family grows, you can move out of an apartment and into a house, and maybe someday into an even bigger house. You might find and restore an older home in need of care, creating value for you and lifting the whole neighborhood at the same time. Your neighbors are people at different stages in their lives — because in a vibrant neighborhood, people have chosen to stay even when their lives change and their circumstances improve. These are the kinds of places that once existed in the Downtown Neighborhoods. With the good planning embodied in this Community Plan and the accompanying new Form-Based Code for development, we are committed to bringing vibrant, successful neighborhoods back to urban Fresno.” – Mayor Ashley Swearengin, October 2016, in the plan’s cover letter addressed to all Fresnans. (Source: City of Fresno)

1 comment
  1. The City of Fresno is the 5th largest City in the State of California and has an annual Budget of almost a billion dollars, with approximately 4,000 employees, and does NOT have an Internal Audit Unit to ensure the proper accounting, internal controls and safeguarding of all City Assets are in place and functioning as intended. As the retired Principal Internal Auditor for the City of Fresno, effective January 2016, this area should be of significance to the City and newly elected Mayor and all Council Members. All the top ten Cities in the State of California, except the City of Fresno, have an Internal Audit Unit. For the structure, benefits and type of Internal Audits performed by the Internal Audit Unit I oversaw while employed with the City, I reference all viewers of this comment to the City’s Administrative Order 1-10. I would hope that this significant area of concern and importance might be #11 on the Mayor’s Listing going forward. Thank You!

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