The best shot at saving the most prime farmland from development over the next 27 years in San Joaquin County is the creation of high density clusters of jobs, services and housing.
It would also require cutting the number of housing that is built as traditional single family homes within the county from 91 percent today to 50 percent in the coming years.
Those are some of the early conclusions from a San Joaquin Valley wide state-mandated planning exercise dubbed “Valley Visions” designed to create a template for development.
If growth continues with its existing pattern of predominately single family homes 14,047 acres of prime farmland or an area almost five times the current city limits of Ripon would be lost to development. Three alternative development plans are being explored with the less restrictive consuming just 3,302 prime farmland acres or less than the area of current day Ripon.
Existing growth patterns would require 31,790 overall acres while the most restrictive consumes 13,791 overall acres including prime farmland.
All four scenarios being pondered assume today’s county population will swell from 702,612 to 1,068,259 by the year 2040. That gain of 355,647 is roughly the same as today’s combined population of Stockton and Manteca.
The San Joaquin portion of the Valley Visions effort is being conducted by the San Joaquin Council of Governments.
It envisions the creation of major urban clusters of high density jobs, housing, and services along the southern part of the 120 Bypass in Manteca, north of the Cross-town Freeway in downtown Stockton, near downtown Tracy, near Hammer Lane and Highway 99 in northwest Stockton, and Mountain House
The most restrictive development pattern to accommodate 355,647 more residents to save the most prime farmland would see:
•an equal percentages of townhouse/multi-family units and single family homes built. Currently 91 percent of all new housing in the county is single family homes.
•very few large-lot homes would be built.
• the greatest shift to infill and urban core locations.
•fewer new roads would be built as well as fewer road widening projects.
•increased local bus service at all times of the day.
•Altamont Corridor Express service to Modesto plus two new ACE stations built within the county.
• a greater percentage of housing within 500 feet of a freeway.
For more information on the Valley Visions effort go to www.valley-visions.org