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Urban Decay Data

In August 2023, the Greenfield Coalition released an independent study by ECONorthwest to analyze the impacts of fringe development on the urban core. The Fresno Urban Decay Analysis gives an overview of Fresno’s history, defines ‘urban decay’ and its measurement factors in the context of Fresno, and uses interactive data and historical mapping to show urban decay in five focus neighborhoods: Blackstone, Kings Canyon/Ventura, Hidalgo, Downtown, and Southwest Fresno.


We encourage you to dig into the data and learn about how urban decay has negatively impacted our city, not just in terms of the physical appearance of our neighborhoods, but also our economy, our health, and the overall quality of life of our residents.


The Fresno Urban Decay Analysis also outlines the following five causes of urban decay in our city:


  • Inefficient Land Use:
    New developments in annexation areas cannot completely pay for themselves because, on average, they are not introducing new residents to the tax base but rather shifting residents around within the City. Also, as the City increases the number of square miles within its boundaries, it increases the miles of roads, infrastructure, and emergency services that it must finance, staff, and maintain. 


  • Flight:
    Higher-income households moving out of the legacy communities exacerbates decay, as there is a loss of property tax and sales tax revenue, and local spending, which in turn impacts local businesses and the level of services for these legacy communities. When schools see negative impacts to their funding from a loss of tax revenue, families with more mobility and financial options typically seek a stronger performing school district and leave, causing further harm to these school districts.


  • Investment Patterns (Public and Private):
    Deferred maintenance, deferred upgrades, and antiquated infrastructure have negative impacts by drawing down market premiums while also creating additional costs, greater uncertainty, and increased risk for capital markets in attracting private investment, perpetuating the decay of the neighborhoods left behind.


  • Location/Relocation of Institutional Uses:
    Fresno has a history of large-scale public and governmental users leaving the central city to move further north in the city (Fresno State in 1956, Valley Children's Hospital in 1952, Saint Agnes Medical Center in 1970, Fresno County Social Services in 2021).

  • Location of Uses with Negative Neighborhood Effects:
    While uses that benefit the communities of central Fresno, including universities, hospitals, and social services, have moved north, the City has a history of allowing disruptive uses in the central city. In Southwest Fresno, land that was designated for agricultural uses has been approved for industrial uses, despite the neighborhood consisting primarily of residential uses and single-family homes.


“Before everyone else at the State and Federal level believed in Downtown, it was Fresnans who believed in Downtown. It was Fresnans saying, ‘I don’t want to live in a sprawl city, I want to reinvest in the core. I want transit-oriented development - real ones - not a bus stop 2 miles away. I want high-density housing with green spaces in the Downtown setting. I want to work, live, and play…in Downtown Fresno.’ ”


― Councilmember Miguel Arias, City of Fresno (press conference on 6/28/23)

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