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New Fresno Northwest Police station opens and provides a glimpse into future population growth

Fresno City Hall

New Fresno Northwest Police station opens and provides a glimpse into future population growth

Fresno police stations are strategically located and display the City’s planning as Fresno’s population could hit 1 million by 2100.

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Fresno’s Northwest Police District has a new station.

The station is actually in the northwest part of town.

Mayor Lee Brand, Chief Jerry Dyer and a handful of other top city officials gathered at the Winepress Shopping Center on Wednesday to cut a ceremonial ribbon on the 10,000 square foot facility.

The old station was located on a corner of Dakota and Hughes avenues. That’s Central Fresno territory, or perhaps west-central. The new station is near a corner of Shaw and Marks avenues, which is honest-to-goodness Northwest Fresno.

Dozens of well-wishers listened to brief speeches. The PA system had some bugs, so I understood only every third phrase.

“The entire city benefits,” Brand said.

“We thank the Mayor,” Dyer said.

The old Northwest station was in Council Member Esmeralda Soria’s district. The new station is in Council Member Steve Brandau’s district.

“We really appreciate this day,” Brandau said.

The south side of Shaw is the northern border of Soria’s district. She had good things to say about the new station, which suggests she holds no hard feelings about the move.

City Manager Wilma Quan-Schecter, Council Members Luis Chavez and Paul Caprioglio, and Northwest District Commander Capt. Burke Farrah were in attendance. Quan-Schecter and Farrah spoke briefly and eloquently.

I suspect the faulty PA system didn’t cause me to miss much. What can you say about an upgraded site that, except for a public meeting room, is off limits to anybody other than working cops?

Council members love to have such stations in their districts. The thinking is that the 24/7 coming-and-going of officers in their cars will be a deterrent to crime in the vicinity. And no doubt there’s something to be said for that notion.

But the Northwest Police District, one of five policing districts in Fresno, probably encompasses 20 to 25 square miles. As the Chief has said many times, cops generally don’t sit in a building waiting for a call to action. They’re on patrol. Dispatchers are a force multiplier for those mobile officers.

We can all agree that it’s great for the officers to have a modern station. But I’m guessing the deterrent effect is a wash – Shaw/Marks gains, Dakota/Hughes loses.

The obvious value of district stations in a city of 114 square miles is logistics. Patrol officers need a base. It makes no sense to require every officer to work out of Downtown Headquarters.

Leaving aside the issue of outdated facility vs. modernized facility, I wonder if the main news value of the new Northwest station is as another example of City Hall preparing the landscape of Fresno for the brave new world of 21st century California.

What is California’s current population – close to 40 million? Most likely. It’s not a stretch to see California hitting the 100 million mark by the end of the century. We’re a state with one-party rule and our own foreign policy. California is destined to be an unstoppable force that is regionally consolidating and continentally destabilizing.

What will Fresno’s population be in 2100 – 1 million or so? There’s a fair chance of that. The population most certainly will be far above the current estimate of 525,000.

Such growth will put immense demands on housing and transportation. Sacramento lawmakers are putting on their thinking hats as we speak, building up the regulatory state and the enforcement apparatus to meet those demands.  Residential densification and transit-oriented development are the name of the game. The cities’ monopoly on local land-use decision-making is doomed.

The new Central Police District station in Manchester Center is on Blackstone Avenue. Blackstone is a key leg in the new Bus Rapid Transit system (funded by the feds and Sacramento).

The new Northwest Police District station is on Shaw. Shaw is a key leg in the enhanced FAX 15 service. Shaw will probably be part of BRT’s phase two.

The Southeast Police District station will soon move from its outdated facility near the fairgrounds to new digs in the Fancher Creek development along Clovis Avenue. Clovis Avenue by any definition is a major transportation corridor. The new Southeast station is next to SEGA – the Southeast Growth Area. SEGA will be the local template for centrally planned 21st century urban living.

The Southwest Police District station in the Kearney Palms shopping center has been around for a while. The station is on Fresno Street, a bit west of Downtown. West Fresno with its new specific plan is destined for big growth and enhanced bus service.

The siting of the Police Department’s district stations is one small but telling example of City Hall’s efforts to build the massive infrastructure necessary for Fresno to be a thriving participant in a quasi-nation/state that, in the lifetime of my grandson, will become more populous and richer (not to mention more tortured by political leaders with grand geopolitical ambitions) than the current Germany.

On my walk home from Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, I bumped into a woman walking her two grandsons in the neighborhood due west of Fig Garden Village. We talked about the wholesale changes in Fresno’s culture over the last half-century.

The ‘60s and ‘70s were dramatic, we agreed.

But, she added, “we are now in a whole new era.”

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George Hostetter

George Hostetter is a contributor to CVObserver.

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