Month: November 2011

Rail fares are worth it for the safety benefits alone

This past weekend, I attended a college football game at the LA Coliseum with family to watch USC beat UCLA by an enormous margin. With a kickoff at 7:15pm, the game didn’t end until around 10:30pm. That means we did not hit the highway to leave LA until 11:30pm, for the 4 hour drive back to Fresno.

During that drive, a realization hit me like a wall. A wall of fog. Bad fog. Those who think it gets foggy in San Francisco or London have no idea what it’s like to experience the Central Valley’s Tule fog, which can decrease visibility to zero. Click to read more!

Expo line to miss 2011 opening

I’ve been following construction progress on the Exposition Light Rail line in Los Angeles for a couple of reasons. One, is because it’s one of the most exciting transit extension projects happening in this country, hitting a very dense, under-served, and populated area that deserves fast rail access. Two, is because my sister goes to USC, and the line will serve the campus at multiple points, offering students a quick and cheap ride to downtown This will allow students to comfortably live further from campus…never mind the enormous benefits to faculty and staff who will see better commuting options. Click to read more!

Retail on Thanksgiving

When I was in Boston last week, I read a Globe article on how various national retailers scheduled their Black Friday opening this year at midnight…and then quickly had to change plans when someone told them doing so in Massachusetts would be illegal.

You see, in Massachusetts, working on Thanksgiving (and I believe Christmas) is generally not allowed (there are exceptions for restaurants and such). So opening at midnight would require workers to clock in on Thanksgiving to set up, and that is illegal. They’ve all moved their opening times forward to around 1am, store depending. Click to read more!

Dying mall cancels outdoor market due to popularity, parking concerns

This new development is quite frankly, baffling.

Say you owned a mall built in the 1950’s, that had seen better days. Much better days. Say almost all your national brand retailers had left years ago, and the entire second floor was now being leased to government agencies and other office uses. Say your biggest anchor, one of only two, went bankrupt and liquidated in 2009, and nobody has expressed serious interest in the location yet. And your other anchor, is Sears, a brand that has fallen on tough times. Click to read more!

Pedestrian mall at night

I’m not in Fresno this week. But I am somewhere with a pedestrian mall that not all are happy with. Indeed, sometimes people suggest letting the cars in. Many times, these are folks that don’t actually visit the area, and probably wouldn’t if that was changed.

Sounds familiar right?

Yet even on a cold and rainy evening, the place was bursting with life. I decided to remain under the shelter of the Macy’s sidewalk ceiling while waiting for a friend. Many however did not bother to use the sidewalk, even though it offered more protection from the weather. Click to read more!

Globe’s horrifying series on how drunk drivers get off so easily

The woman who brazenly bragged to Plymouth police that “my OUI that I have is going to get thrown out, and [my lawyer] will take care of this one, too,’’ during her arrest for drunken driving only a month after she allegedly hit a truck with more than twice the legal amount of alcohol in her bloodstream.

And she was right: Not guilty on the first. Not guilty on the second.

For the past three Sunday’s, the Boston Globe has written an incredibly interesting and depressing series of articles on how drunk drivers are treated in Massachusetts. It reveals how the laws mean nothing, when judge’s habitually declare drunk drivers innocent, just because, and how having money means you will get off, every single time. Click to read more!

San Joaquin (Amtrak) ridership continues to soar – is HSR to blame?

Amtrak has finally caught up with their monthly status reports, and their August and September numbers are now available.

What really popped out from these reports was the incredibly impressive numbers from the San Joaquin route, which services California’s Central Valley and is where the first phase of High Speed Rail (HSR) is set to be constructed. To HSR detractors, this section of the state is known as “nowhere”, a land of farms and vast distances, where transit is simply unfeasible. Click to read more!

A look at GVUrban’s next two downtown projects

Note: I am currently in Boston so my upload schedule may be light in the next week.

Anyone who follows development in downtown Fresno knows one brand: GVUrban. This subsidiary of Granville homes has been one of only two serious developers to go out and build new housing and renovate existing buildings downtown. The other development team are the ones who are proposing to fix Hotel Fresno, and have a couple of other successful renovations.

I’ve talked about all of GVurban’s projects that have or are set to debut this year, including Fulton Village, Van Ness Cottages, and Biz-werx. But these developers are far from done. While their website doesn’t mention it, they have two more projects lined up for 2012. Click to read more!

New Google Street View images for Fresno and Clovis

The Street View feature from Google Maps is a fantastic tool which I use many times a week. It lets you explore places you haven’t been before, scout out locations before heading out to visit them (ie, exact location of a restaurant) and it lets you see changes that have been made to an area.

Since launching in May 2007 in select cities, Google has expanded their pictures to most of the US, most of Europe, an other countries around the world.

Here you can see that most of the US, Mexico and Canada have Street View images available, in blue. The blue circles are user submitted pictures in areas not yet covered by the cameras. Click to read more!