"The City Council has routinely approved developer requests for exceptions to the plan or the city's zoning code, city records show.
Experts say such case-by-case tinkering with development plans only worsens sprawl.
From January 2003 through June 2008, the council approved about 400 zone changes or general plan amendments and denied just four.
The approvals included more than 300 projects around the city's edges -- in most cases allowing more intense development. The Bee analysis excluded zoning changes requested before 2003.
Over those 5 1/2 years, the city let developers convert more than 11 square miles around Fresno's edges for residential, commercial and other types of development. That includes two of the biggest projects approved in recent years: Copper River Ranch subdivision, which added a square mile to Fresno's northern tip, and the Fancher Creek development, which converted almost a square mile on the southeastern side."