15 december 2015
The Los Angeles Times published an article on urban sprawl in Central Valley. The state rail agency plans the construction of the bullet train system of 130 miles in the Central Valley, the route cuts through some of the richest agricultural land in the world. Critics fear that the bullet train will bring urban sprawl to Central Valley.
Governor Jerry Brown sees the California High-Speed Rail system as a new weapon against urban sprawl; he believes that the bullet train will help to concentrate expected growth in existing population centers of the Central Valley, sparing farm fields. Smart-growth proponents say high-speed rail stations could become magnets for investments in downtown areas. But they stress that preventing sprawl depends almost entirely on city and county planning policies. Low land costs in the Central Valley make it ideal for future residential growth.
How serious a threat urban sprawl poses to the state's agricultural land — and whether the high-speed rail system offers significant protection — is a complex and controversial issue.
Many growers and valley officials see a far bigger problem for agricultural land than urbanization: water shortage. Cutbacks in water rights have removed tens of thousands of acres from production.
So why do we need to conserve farmland if there is no water for the crops anyway? That is the sort of question repeated as bullet train construction nears and state officials, local leaders, environmentalists, builders and growers prepare for divergent visions of the Central Valley's future.
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