Reports on the work of Priority Committees established at the Program Planning meeting last February.
HOUSING: Inspections have begun under the city’s Affordable Housing Act; the issue of adequate training of inspectors was raised by a committee member who experienced the inspection process. More information will be obtained. The Committee discussed the results of members’ reports on YIMBY towns (Yes In My Back Yard). The YIMBYs (affiliates of the National Housing Conference) are located all around the nation and some in Europe. They are composed of grassroots community organizers, political leaders, builders and developers, educators and everyday people to identify problems, create solutions and share resources on issues that impact housing. We studied 14 different YIMBY towns and found many common goals among them. Expanding the home supply relieves pressure on prices. The group supports higher densities as a solution for many problems because high density affordable living allows people of all backgrounds and income levels to live close to one another, and it is one key to overcoming racial segregation and economic inequity. It can also help prevent sprawl and pollution. Higher densities could support walkable, transit-rich, bike-able neighborhoods along business corridors and near transit hubs. Ideally such developments should be spread throughout a city, and should feature mixed use development and inclusionary zoning. Regulations should also allow for medium-rise mixed-use with apartments or condos located above shops, businesses or offices. Many YIMBYs support the use of Housing or Land Trusts to aid in the development of these housing communities. The Tokyo housing experience presents a real success story. The city went from having a housing deficit in 1963 to a surplus in 1973 and an even bigger surplus every year after that until in 2013 there were 849,000 more homes than households. They accomplished this growth by demolishing and redevelopment, replacing older homes with taller, denser new housing. This was done in the face of opposition at the neighborhood and city levels. Next meeting: October nylajz [at] comcast.net
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: The League participated in the Fresno State Community Service Opportunities Fair again in September. We received interest in collaborating wityh LWVF from 18 students, and have two already working on League projects. Graciela Moreno is managing our new weekly email message project, and Mike Lawrence is behind the camera working on a set of short video pieces about our League and its members. Two additional students expressed interest in doing elections work, and we are hoping they will assist Jacquie Canfield with Voter’s Edge. Terri Figgs, Bill Jordan, and Marianne Kast met with a student team from a Mass Communications and Journalism class that will produce one or two video marketing pieces to help the LWVF better tell its story. Work will be getting underway on that project immediately. Next meeting: October date TBD fourkasts [at] gmail.com)
EDUCATION: Thanks to committee members’ collaborative efforts and the great leadership of chair Kay Bertken, the Education Committee has launched a 25-page draft of its report on charter schools in the City of Fresno. The draft has been sent to school leaders of the charter institutions that were part of the study for their commentary. Their suggestions will be evaluated and included if appropriate. After this process is complete the report will be finalized by the committee and sent to a wide audience that will include school districts and boards of education in Fresno County. The state League of Women Voters and other local leagues in California, some of whom have expressed interest in our work, will also receive the report, as well as education-related organizations. The extensive report includes the following sections: Structure, Numbers, Demographics, Curriculum, Achievement, Success Markers, Trends, Areas of Concern, and Recommendations. In addition to chair Bertken, the committee includes Jacquie Canfield, Francine Farber, Sue Goldman, Janet Ryan, Amy Schmidt, Marsha Wagner, Lenore Yousef,and Nyla Zender.