Valley Public Radio FM89 - Live Audio

Southwest Fresno

Monica Velez / Valley Public Radio

At about 10 a.m. Aaron Foster heads to Ivy and Lorena streets in southwest Fresno. In his pickup truck, he goes around neighborhoods in this area every day, or what he calls “hitting the loop.”

 

“This is just the hood, we call it the block,” he said. “Every neighborhood got a block. This is the southwest Fresno that no one sees. The poverty is obvious.”

 

He does this to “sustain the peace” and to prevent shootings from happening.  

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Local leaders gathered in Southwest Fresno Tuesday for the groundbreaking of the city’s newest community garden and first project funded by the Transformative Climate Communities grant

The Yosemite Village Permaculture Urban Farm and Community Garden is right next to the Yosemite Village Apartments, but locals have a shorthand: Yo’Ville.

Monica Velez

Aaron Foster stands outside Wayne's Liquor store on East California Avenue. There’s a park across the street buzzing with people, a taqueria around the corner, and a library a few blocks away.

 

“This is the heart of Southwest Fresno,” he says. “There’s rival gang members that come by but they know this is a safe zone.”

 

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

 

The state has been charging companies for their carbon emissions since 2012, and last year, it gave some of that money to communities most affected by pollution, including Fresno. Some of it was slated for Southwest Fresno -- an area that has suffered high rates of poverty and perceived neglect from the city. The plan is to build a college campus with a portion of these funds, and some believe that education is part of the answer to turning Southwest Fresno's misfortune around.

High-speed rail could transform Fresno’s poorest neighborhood. Will Trump get on the train?

Oct 15, 2018
Dave Levinthal / Center for Public Integrity

  

The plan: cover one of the most destitute tracts of California’s poorest major city with a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and watch dust turn to dollars.

But soon, funding for the project known as Running Horse evaporated. Debt ballooned.

Across the continent, Donald Trump smelled opportunity. He wooed city officials, and talked big — really big — about how he’d save Running Horse, schedule a PGA Tour event and transform Southwest Fresno right along with it.

A new chapter in the history of a long-neglected Fresno neighborhood could be just around the corner. Some residents in southwest Fresno say they are seeing a critical mass of plans falling into place to unlock the neighborhood's long trapped potential. The approval of the Southwest Fresno Specific Plan, moving the Darling meat rendering plant, and the expected influx of tens of millions of dollars in state development funds have all been approved this year. And some believe this confluence of events will be the tipping point toward growth and revitalization.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

After decades of complaints from residents, a vote this week by the Fresno City Council could signal what some think is a new direction for southwest Fresno. The city is considering a new specific plan that will guide the future of the 3,000 acre neighborhood west of Highway 99 and south of Highway 180. At its heart is a goal to remake the area, and reduce pollution by telling big industrial facilities to move elsewhere.   

When she was a little girl, Kimberly McCoy lived near some of the heavy industry that marks parts of southwest Fresno.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Affordable housing advocates have filed a lawsuit against the city of Fresno, claiming it has failed to make enough land available for low cost housing.

Residents of southwest Fresno say the city has failed to re-zone some 700-acres of land it promised to set aside for multifamily homes and apartments.

Attorney Ashley Werner with the Leadership Council for Justice says Fresno is facing an affordable housing crisis.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

UPDATE 12/17/15:
The Fresno City Council has approved an enhanced tax incentive plan to lure Nordstrom's fulfillment center to the city. The new plan includes up to $12 million in sales tax rebates to the company, based on the number of jobs created by the center. Fresno is competing with Visalia as possible sites for the 1 million square foot building.

ORIGINAL POST:

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Southwest Fresno has had a long history battling poverty, poor planning and lack of investments. But why is that? FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports how a set of 80-year-old government maps sheds new light on Fresno's troubling and often overlooked history of segregation.

Mary Curry moved to West Fresno in 1956. Over the years she’s seen the neighborhood transform but not in a good light.

“There was a lot of businesses in the community when we moved here. Grocery stores, retail, and we don’t see any of that anymore it’s all gone.”

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The Kearney Palms Shopping Center on Fresno Street just west of Highway 99 is often held up as the shining example of the potential future of Southwest Fresno. The grocery store and surround retailers thrive. But the historical legacy of institutional racism has held much of the rest of the neighborhood back. The neighborhood suffers from some of the highest concentrations of poverty in the state, and heavy pollution from industrial developments.