New Fresno planning director ready to open "bottlenecks"

Jennifer clarkJennifer clarkFresno’s new planning director Jennifer Clark said she is ready to start the process of streamlining the planning process as she begins her second month in the area.

Speaking to Fresno’s E.A.R.T.H. Committee (Environment, Ag, Resources, Transportation and H20) on Friday, she said, “It is important for Fresno to be known as a business friendly community.”

She said the city would look at some sample projects and find the hiccups and red tape that is slowing the process down. Procedures that are of no value will be eliminated, she said.

“It will take about 12 months to get the initial phase done,” Clark said.

Clark said she would also look for local talent to fill planning positions and jobs whenever possible.

She also acknowledged that good air and water quality are vital to the area.

Clark answered questions and received suggestions from the committee audience. One suggestion pertained to infill projects in the downtown area. “There is not a lot of incentive for infill projects,” said Jeff Roberts, vice president of Granville Homes in Fresno.

Clark was also told to be aware of the pros and cons of high-speed rail planned for the Fresno area. Clark said four planners would be hired to help in the process helping people to help mitigate problems associated with the planned rail construction.

California High Speed Rail will pay for the four planners, she said.

Clark was told that Fresno recently received a low score for its parks. She promised to explore ways to improve the Fresno parks system.

Clark said it is not only hard to find places to incorporate parks, but someone has got to maintain them. “I see pocket parks as the way to go, but there is a need for larger parks,” she said.

Clark suggested building parks near water recharge basins that tend to stay green for most of the year. “It is a green amenity for surrounding neighborhoods,” she said, adding, “Parks are a critical and important issue. People love parks.”

Clark added that Fresno is looking to fill a parks director position.

Nat DiBuduo, president of Allied Grape Growers, said that in planting plants and trees in open spaces, it if vital to know they will survive in Fresno. Many plants and trees have died just months after being planted, he said.

Clark said that in learning her trade, she worked in various locations including Kilgore, Texas; Houston, Albany, Ga. and Independence, Mo. She became interested in moving to Fresno after visiting the area and its leaders.

“Government leaders have a vision here,” Clark said.

She said the community wants to do what’s best for the next generation. That includes preserving agriculture as a natural resource, she said.