This one will fill in "gaps, loopholes" in previous studies

The Taft City Council approved spending up to $12,000 to fund another step in updating the city's Downtown Specific Plan.

The money will be used to pay the expenses for a team of consultants to travel to Taft conduct another round of "community workshops, surveys and meetings with stakeholders to establish the vision forward for downtown Taft," according to a city staff report.

This latest study has several goals, and one will try to overcome negative attitudes in the community as a whole about the future of the downtown.

"Although optimism is high with the City Council, City staff, and most of Downtown’s property owners and business operators, there is still a sense of pessimism from stakeholders and residents," an application for the assistance of the consultants says. "Taft has not changed or seen rapid development or growth spurts as other suburban or rural towns have the past 20 years."
The consultants, from the American Planning Associations Community Planning Assistance Team are actually working pro bono, but the city is going to pay travel, lodging and other expenses for the CPAT, which includes a team leader, five experts and two staff members.

The council voted unanimously to approve the request from the Taft Economic Development Ad Hoc Committee to fund the project.

The project is called “Why do we need another Plan???: A Vision for Downtown Taft, Ca.”

The answer according to documents included in the information included in the application, is to address the "gaps, loopholes, and gray language that can only be filled by a concise Downtown Specific Plan."

Specifically, the new study will target specific areas:

•A Comprehensive Vision for the future of Downtown Taft

•A full understanding of the Market Realities of Downtown Taft.

•An understanding of development opportunities in and adjacent to Downtown Taft.

• Furthering the City’s identity and branding to Downtown Taft.

• A focused effort on the tourism opportunities of Downtown Taft.

•Thorough workshops or charrettes resulting in an understanding of architectural

styles and color palettes identified for further development

•Include complete streets, promote pedestrian and biking safety, and healthy

communities concepts in workshops and discussions with project participants

•Explore opportunities for adaptive reuse of buildings

•Explore opportunities for including the arts in various ways in the downtown area

as there are many blank facades available for murals

•Implementation Strategy as the City moves forward in finalizing a Downtown

Specific Plan.

This is going to be the latest in a long line of studies dating back to the mid 1990s and will follow a 2015 economic development workshop.

Those studies, plans and updates include:

•The Downtown Specific Plan, first adopted in 1994 and updated five years later.

•The city's General Plan, which is updated every 10 years. The last full update was adopted in 2010 and amended earlier this year

•A Taft zoning ordinance covering the downtown area, which underwent a "comprehensive update" in 2008 and was amended two years later

•An economic development strategy developed in 2013 for the Greater Taft

Economic Development Authority (GTEDA) by the Fresno State Office of Community

& Economic Development. that included forming a committee that met 12 times.

•The 2015 economic development workshop. It led to the establishment of the Economic

Development Ad Hoc Committee.