Month: June 2011

Zoo expansion will bring giant parking lot into historic park

This problem deserves a longer post, but I dont have time, so here’s a summary.

-Roeding Park, one of two major parks in Fresno, the oldest and most historic.
-Fresno Chaffee Zoo, located inside the park.

The plan: Expand the zoo by closing off existing portions of the park and making them zoo-land.

The problem: The Roeding Family (they donated the land for the park) is concerned about taking public park land and giving it to the semi-private zoo, and how this will hurt recreation opportunities for the poor (it’s in a poor neighborhood).

My concern: Ignoring THAT issue, the plan has one giant flaw: AN ENORMOUS PARKING LOT! The city wants to bulldoze 100 year old trees to build a giant parking lot. What a great way to celebrate open space in a park! Click to read more!

Bee links: Zoo expansion, downtown growth, scooter rider killed

A few articles that caught my eye over the past few days:

A Clovis 14 year old riding a scooter was hit crossing the street. Apparently, this isn’t very newsworthy, because none of the articles go into any details at all. Except to note that the boy was wearing a helmet. That’s super important. The article heading notes that he’s on life support, but only so his organs can be used.

Clovis teen on life support after car hit him
Read more:

The zoo expansion will go in front of the Fresno council on Thursday Click to read more!

The curious case of the disappearing Google earth application

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed an icon missing from my desktop. I knew I hadn’t deleted anything, but I couldn’t remember what icon had previously been there.

Yesterday, I tried to open Google earth. And that’s when I realized it was the missing icon. No problem, I’ll just get to the program the long way, with the start menu.

But it wasn’t there either.

So I searched “google” and then “earth” in the start menu search bar.


Was I going crazy? I know I had the program. I was pretty damn sure I never uninstalled it. So what happened?

Well, all this talk of google earth made me load up my favorite google earth related website, which you can find here: Click to read more!

Why build parking lot years in advance of the building?

I’ve been curious about something for awhile, and was wondering if any reader knew the answer.

In the Fresno and Clovis area, you come upon many lots which are zoned for commerce (and in one example, a park). The very first thing built in these lots is a parking lot. The whole deal, asphalt, lights, lines, even the handicap signs. And then it sits there.

Sometimes for years. And years. Some locations have parking lots that were built 5+ years ago, with no building to go with it.

And I just don’t get it.

Parking lots aren’t free. The rule of thumb for a surface lot is $8,000 per space, not including land cost. So why would a developer come in, plop down up to half a million dollars worth of asphalt, so that an empty parking lot can sit? Click to read more!

Fresno Bee apparently supports HSR: 15 page special pro-HSR segment in today’s paper

Today’s paper was fatter than usual. Like most American papers, the Bee has shrunk over the past decade. But there was a surprise inside. A 15 page full-color special HSR segment, explaining all the benefits of HSR to the central valley.

Articles inside include:

Downtown Station Could be Regional Hub by the executive director of the Fresno Council of Governments
Japan’s Rail Lines Reliable, Quake-proof by the consulate general from Japan
Making the Case for HSR by Steve Geil

Among many others. A timeline, “myths vs reality” and several local ads by pro-HSR companies are included. Click to read more!

Clovis: No effort to imrpove bus service, even with lower cost

On June 6, the Clovis City Council met, and one of their items of discussion was to renew their agreement with FAX (Fresno Area Express) which has a single bus line enter the city limits to reach a transfer center at Sierra Vista Mall.

As I’ve been discussing, Fresno has a very mediocre bus system, but Clovis, which operates their own system, has an absolutely terrible one. A grand total of two and a half bus lines, operating Monday-Saturday, 6am-6pm, once an hour.

So Clovis pays FAX to extend route 9 into the city to allow people to transfer between systems. It makes sense, as the cities flow into each other, and having no connection between the two transit systems would be ludicrous (it’s already wasteful enough to operate two independent systems). It also helps Clovis, as it allows shoppers and workers to reach Sierra Vista Mall, which houses a movie theater, Sears, Kohls, and various standard mall shops like Victoria’s Secret, and Gamestop, and a good dozen restaurants. Click to read more!

Fresno releases “Downtown Development Code” public draft + video of new lofts

Because of new interest in building downtown (after 2 decades of zero growth), the city has decided to rework their zoning code for the area, to take into account urban concepts like street-walls, hidden parking and yes, buildings taller than 2 stories. Previously, builders had to go through mountains of red tape to get approval for urban buildings in a code designed for suburban sprawl.

The public draft of this new form-based code is now available online

There will also be a public “exploration” of it next week.

To kick-off the public review process, the City of Fresno will hold a public workshop to orient property and business owners, residents, and the public with the new draft Code. Click here to see agenda. The meeting will occur at Fresno City Hall, 2600 Fresno Street, Fresno, CA: Click to read more!

Millerton New Town – More sprawl, coming soon!

The Fresno Bee recently gave an update about a proposed new city by Millerton Lake, ingeniously known as “Millerton New Town”. This development has struggled to get going since the 1980’s, and the developer, Bonadelle, has finally decided that the time is right to start bulldozing the rural landscape to built new subdivisions.

This is leap-frog development inducing new sprawl in a beautiful rural area, and what does the developer have to say about that?

“This is a little different than talking about urban sprawl where you just build out from the fringes of the city and keep going,” Ewell said.” Click to read more!

New Google satellite imagery for most of California

Google has really ramped up the pace of updates to their satellite imagery in google maps and google earth. A few days ago, they launched updated imagery of Fresno and Clovis, taken on April, 25, 2011. Also added were no images for large parts of the state, including Los Angeles. Google has not announced the extent of the update.

Before that, the imagery was from 9/24/2009, but in mid 2010, Google uploaded aerial imagery taken sometime in early 2010 (before June). The aerial imagery is take by an airplane at an angle, so instead of just looking at rooftops, you get to see some facades and an idea of depth. Click to read more!

Amtrak California hits new ridership highs

Amtrak has released their ridership numbers for April, and the graphs speak for themselves.

San Joaquin missed hitting 100,000 for the first time by 609 riders.

Capitol Corridor exceeds 150,000 for the month

Pacific Surfliner has more than 250,000 riders a month

And how they stack up against each other.

And finally, how does Amtrak California compare to the rest of the system?


Very favorably. I thought nobody rode trains in California?

All numbers directly from Amtrak can be found at Click to read more!