When one compares our fair city with those near us, such as Visalia, Lemoore, Dinuba, Fresno; how do we measure up? The answer is: we can do much better! From a commerce geographic perspective, everything was tossed on 12th avenue, and a little splattered on the far Eastside with Costco. Anything else between these two areas has been left abandoned with no developmental support. Such is not the case with our neighboring City of Visalia.
Why is this occurring? I would say that we are struggling, because the decision makers are not paying attention to our citizens’ needs and interests. As I walk along the streets and neighborhoods and just taking note of the many conversations, I have met with many local Hanford residents. I must report many state frustration, and just feel left out in how our city is not addressing their local concerns. Many just give up and drive to Visalia with their families and enjoy what Visalia has to offer that Hanford does not. This includes, a wide array of restaurants, family entertainment (e.g. Large Adventure Park on Akers, Chuckie Cheese, large parks with family oriented play grounds, clean established places for regular dining and dancing for both the young and older couples and many other opportunities.
Furthermore, our City need well thought out parks with plenty of shade trees, benches, ponds, children play grounds with adequate parking and lighting. Other concerns come from local merchants having difficult time obtaining business expansion permits to allow for bringing outdooring dining; others include the lack of efforts of aggressively securing good paying jobs other than seasonal agriculture and low paying fast foods and retail stores and not bringing high-tech jobs; not adequately addressing the homeless concern in supporting such as a successful “One Stop Homeless Housing Center” which offer vocational training and emotional support services for our homeless. In addressing the last concern, I would turn to such fine organizations such as Champions in helping their efforts in address such strategies.
All in all, investment developers, are the ones that actually have the ear to our civic leaders. Case in point is the proposed 40 low income condominium complex on the Southside on the Kimble and Washington Street, near Roosevelt Elementary School. The complex will address some housing issues, but the square footage of the building complex is so small, it will not allow for adequate parking for tenants. Let alone, there are no plans for some type of a common mini-park for public gathering. All this from a developer, I am concluding from a developer hoping to make a quick profit by flipping the project later.
As a resident of our City, I would hope to see the following suggestions to bridge
1. Create a “Hanford Citizens Oversight Committee (non-city government)”, which non-paid, non-elected position, where working concerned citizens may make recommendations and in addition review how the City is planning and spending our tax dollars to meet our needs.
2. Well thought out Parks and Entertainment Venue. Create a “theme park” partnered possible with Chaffe Zoo. Plan and create much needed family entertaining parks strategically throughout Hanford.
3. Zoning that will allow out Mom and Pop restaurant and other business get expanded permits to enhances their business. Also progressive zoning to bring in the types of growth found in Cities of Visalia and Dinuba.
4. Year round High Tech Jobs for Our Citizens: Work with County Economic Development Leaders and bring the Board of Supervisors to bring in high paying tech jobs into our town.
5. Effectively Address the Homeless concern partnering with other non-profits and garnering State and Federal funding support.
I am personally reaching my own frustrating point, where we are not putting what our citizens are hoping to see in our town; that I am now considering of running for city council in fighting for these issues.
Alfred Benavides, MPA