Tag: city council

Discussion begins in Fresno about prioritizing frequency over coverage on the bus network

Last month, the Fresno City Council heard a workshop on a proposed restructuring of the Fresno bus system (FAX), one that would allow for improved service on trunk routes, creating 15-minute headways in the corridors with the most transit demand. 

This type of restructuring is the bread and butter of Jarrett Walker over at Human Transit. You can read about a project he worked on in Houston here. Mr. Walker has been involved with FAX on and off for a few years now. He first gave a presentation at Fresno State in October of 2010, and was then brought in by the city to create the “Metropolitan Area Public Transportation Strategic Service Evaluation (PDF)” in early 2014. You can find more on that process here. The evaluation is in fact the foundation for this new restructuring project. Mr. Walker’s team was also involved in the current proposals, which offer specific and concrete recommendations, rather than an overview of possibilities. Click to read more!

Last chance to comment on plan to remove the Fresno Fulton Mall – act now!

On December 3rd, at 1:30pm, the Fresno City Council will be presented with the last step of the process to eliminate the Fulton Mall and turn it into a street. They will vote on whether to award the contract or not to begin the destruction of the pedestrian mall.

At this point, the project is 11 months late and, more importantly, $3 million dollars over budget.

At $23.05 million, American Paving had the lowest of three bids for
the project. The other two bidders were Lewis C. Nelson at $23.3 million
and Granite Construction at $27.68 million. Right off , the city
is eliminating a bid alternative that will save around $600,000. That
takes American Paving’s bid to $22.4 million. The cash on hand for the
project – around $20 million – means City Hall now needs to either cut
around $2.4 million from the proposal or find some additional revenue.
It looks like the city isn’t counting on the latter. Click to read more!

Fresno’s bus ridership, 7 years of decline (and counting)

What happens when a city won’t stop growing, but the transit system doesn’t grow with it? The system becomes less useful. And the less useful the system is, the less riders will use it. Welcome to Fresno.

We know that bus ridership is down a tad nationwide, but in many cities, it is because riders have taken to trains. Unfortunately, that’s not possible in Fresno, where the bus is your one and only transit option. That means a decline in bus ridership indicates more driving, or worse, less trips being taken (i.e, people not being able to get to jobs). Click to read more!

Will NIMBYs derail new Fresno infill plan?

I was pleasantly surprised to see last month that the City Council approved the general plan update on a vote of 5-2. Honestly, I expected them to punt it to 2015 on some sorry excuse about a need for more input. If you haven’t been following the new plans puts a focus on infill growth, rather than sprawl.


Mayor Ashley Swearengin, who championed the plan, said the real work is just beginning as the city now must take steps to implement the document’s vision.

“Excellent vision and excellent execution may not be enough,” she told the council. “We will all challenge each other to execute as best as we can.” Click to read more!

Will Fresno council kill infill general plan?

Developers aching for more sprawl versus everybody else. Sound familiar?

Sometimes Fresno feels like a broken record, and this time it’s no different. Tomorrow, the City Council may finally vote on the 2035 General Plan Update. The plan supports infill development as an attempt to curtail the ever-expanding city boundary. It won’t BAN sprawl, it will just aim to decrease it. But for some, that’s too much.

Naturally, the developers of tract homes aren’t pleased, and they have the attention of Chief Tea Party Council President Steve Brandau who helped killed the fully funded BRT project, and has also eliminated every road diet proposal that comes his way. In his mind, everybody in Fresno is well-off, everybody drives, and everybody wants to live the suburban dream. After all, that’s what he wants, and so naturally, that’s all that matters. Throw in some free market voodoo, and you have yourself the developers best friend. Click to read more!

No one noticed, but Fresno killed its proposed BRT system

Nashville, and the ludicrous attempts to ban bus rapid transit (BRT) there by state legislators, has been getting all the news lately, but it’s not the only BRT system to see its future flushed down the toilet by short-sighted elected officials.

After two months of “retooling,”  the Fresno BRT project returned to the City Council a few weeks ago; problem is, there was no BRT left to approve.

Back in January, the Fresno city council put a temporary hold on the $50 million BRT plan which had been in the works since 2008. Even though the process had gone through dozens of public workshops, council presentations, and other forms of outreach, the council acted as if this was the first time they’d heard about it. I wrote about their “concerns”  here. Click to read more!

What’s next for the Fulton Mall?

As you probably read in the Fresno Bee last week, the city council has voted to celebrate the Fulton Mall’s 50th anniversary by destroying it and building a road. The decision was surprising but not shocking: the council has yet to see a silver bullet revitalization project they didn’t love.

This blog is obviously not in favor of the decision. Does the vote mean the fate has been sealed? Is it game over? Are the bulldozers on their way?

No.

The vote last week was to certify the EIR to move forward in the process. Absolutely no construction will happen on the Fulton Mall in 2014. So those looking to celebrate the mall’s 50th anniversary, you can do so in peace, under mature trees, and classic art. Click to read more!

Important Fulton Mall Dates Coming Up

Time is running out to help preserve the Fulton Mall.

Monday is the deadline to send comments to Caltrans for their report on the Fulton Mall project. 

You can send Caltrans comments until Feb 24 to Kirsten Helton, Department of Transportation, 855 M Street, Suite 200, Fresno, CA 93721.

More important is February 27, when the council votes. Here is the item from the meeting agenda (large PDF)    While speaking in person is important, make sure to also contact to council members directly by email.When a public comment at a meeting drags on for hours, as it will, people stop listening. Sending an email means more attention.
So be brief, and use good point!
Remember to target your comments to the council members. For example, it’s probable that Brand and Brandau don’t care at all about park space, art, or history. So there’s no reason to send them a letter addressing those subjects. Instead, focus on the financial risk of the project to the city. 
Brand has attempted to portray himself as “Mr. Money Guy” while Brandau governs as “Mr. Tea Party.” That means pointing out that the fed grant won’t cover all the costs, especially the overruns. This is even more true in an older area, where there are likely old pipes, wires, and gas lines under the mall that aren’t on any map. Whenever an old street gets dug up, the crews ALWAYS encounter these problems, resulting in lengthy delays. That means the city is on the hook for cash. 

Or point out how flimsy the EIR and economic report are. A bad EIR means the city can and will be dragged through the court system. Aside from legal fees, lengthy delays mean forfeiting the fed grant. 

For example,
the EIR claims that there will be no traffic increase, and thus, no mitigation required.

The circular logic is astounding:

Project will create high economic impact -> more shoppers, more workers, more people  Click to read more!

Old Town Clovis Trail Gap to Finally be Closed!

It’s finally happening!

The two blocks in Old Town Clovis where the regional bike trail disappears will apparently be completed as soon as this year.

The next city council agenda has this surprise:

City staff intends to bid and construct the Clovis Old Town trail connection on the west side of Hughes Avenue from Third to Fifth streets in the 3rd quarter of 2013.
Council document (PDF)

The gap is especially notable, because it’s in the heart of Clovis, and there is absolutely no accommodation to direct trail users through the missing area. Click to read more!

Clovis adding large trailhead to Dry Creek Trail

The City of Clovis is looking to convert 2.5 acres of vacant land at Shepherd and Sunnyside into a new trailhead. The project would slightly extend Dry Creek Trail to Shepherd, and provide future connections to a new trail north, and the existing Enterprise Trail to the East. I recently provided a picture tour of a gap-closure on a portion of this same trail.

Here is an area trail map, with the trailhead indicated by the red arrow

 photo shepherd1_zps67cdf125.jpg

Here is another map showing the same thing. Dark green solid lines indicate the two trails, with the red line indicating where they end. The dotted green line is a future trail, which today is accessible as a dirt canal bank. The dotted beige line is a future trail (long distance future). The yellow shape is the planned trailhead Click to read more!