You made your weekly drive to the supermarket, but you forgot to get some milk. Wouldn't you like to be able to just walk or ride your bicycle to get that item or two you forgot?
That's one of the ideas about "smart growth," a concept being promoted by San Joaquin County's regional planning agency as a way to reduce the level of greenhouse gasses.
About a dozen Lodi-area residents, along with city employees from Lodi and other communities, attended a workshop Wednesday night at the Lodi Police Department's community room to hear what smart growth is all about.
Consultant David Early from The Planning Center explained that smart growth generally encourages infill development linking residential, commercial and transportation centers while discouraging new housing on farms or the periphery of towns.
A draft smart growth plan for infill development throughout San Joaquin County, accessible on the San Joaquin Council of Governments' website, has been prepared for public review. Lodi has 41 potential sites alone that can be developed to encourage more walking and bicycling as an alternative to getting into the car, Early said.
Most of the 41 sites are near the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, where development could close enough that residents can walk to the Lodi Transit Station and either take a bus to Stockton or Galt, or hop onto an Amtrak train.
Other sites are along Kettleman Lane, some southeast of Kettleman and Ham lanes, and others north of Kettleman, on both sides of Mills Avenue. Another site shown on the draft map is east of Lower Sacramento Road, north of the Target shopping center.
The Council of Governments has no direct land-use authority, Early said. The regional planning council can't force the Lodi City Council or the other six cities to do anything they don't want to do, nor can it force property owners to do anything, Early added.
However, there are financial incentives to incorporate smart-growth planning methods, Early said. A total of $65 million in federal, state and county Measure K transportation funds will be available during the next 30 years to property owners who develop their land or existing buildings to encourage walking and bicycling.
The smart growth plan was prepared after the state Legislature adopted Senate Bill 375 and Assembly Bill 32, which require cities and counties throughout the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Early said. In San Joaquin County, that amounts to a 5-percent reduction.
Wednesday's meeting attracted Cherene Sandidge, a consultant hired by a family who owns several properties on Sacramento, Elm, Pine and School streets. The family considered refurbishing their buildings — some are occupied and some aren't — until the smart growth concept was introduced through AB 32, adopted in 2006. Now the owners want Sandidge to find out what this smart growth is all about, she said.
"I'm really sold on Downtown Lodi," Sandidge, who lives in the East Bay community of Hercules, said after the workshop.
Sandidge said she would like to see a variety of housing to keep families geographically closer together.
City Councilman Larry Hansen, Lodi's representative on the Council of Governments, said that Lodi's general plan is consistent with smart growth principles.
Hansen, who didn't attend Wednesday's workshop, said he doesn't see changes to Lodi's planning for growth.
"It's just a tool we can use," he said.
Lockeford resident Richard Eklund asked if the smart growth plan would affect his community and other small towns in the county. Early responded that the draft plan is limited to the seven cities and the Mountain House community west of Tracy.
Another workshop on smart growth is scheduled for 6 p.m. today in the Council of Governments board room, 555 E. Weber Ave., Stockton, and on Feb. 15 in Ripon.
The draft plan can be found at www.sjcog.org. Scroll down to "Regional Smart Growth/Transit Oriented Development" and click "Draft Plan." Comments may be made through Feb. 29 to Sam Kaur at iKaur@sjcog.org. For more information, call 209-235-0583.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.