Valley Receives $4 million Regional Planning Grant

A regional effort led by the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley has landed a $4 million Sustainable Communities federal grant to develop smart-growth principles in the eight-county region.

The Partnership worked with representatives of all eight San Joaquin Valley counties to apply for a Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant from Housing and Urban Development. The Valley's proposal, called Smart Valley Places, was one of 45 applications totaling nearly $100 million approved nationwide - and was one of only two awarded in California. It also was the largest award in California.

Fourteen cities within the eight counties cooperated with California State University, Fresno; the Regional Policy Council (which consists of councils of government for all eight counties); and several non-profit organizations to develop a regional plan for smart growth in the Valley.

The HUD Sustainable Communities program will support regional efforts across the country that connect housing with good jobs, high-quality schools and transportation.

"Regions that embrace sustainable housing communities will have a built-in competitive edge in attracting jobs and private investment," said Shaun Donovan, secretary of HUD. "Rather than sticking to the old Washington playback of dictating how communities can invest their grants, HUD's application process encouraged creative, locally focused thinking."

The grants are part of a President Obama plan that brings together several federal agencies to help local communities create better housing, more efficient and reliable transportation and reinforce existing investment, according to this press release from HUD.

The Valley plan was approved despite strong competition. "The response to this program was huge. We were inundated with applications from every state and two territories - from central cities to rural areas and tribal governments," said Shelley Poticha, director of HUD's new office of Sustainable Housing and Communities.

The other award in California was $1.5 million to Sacramento Area Council of Governments.