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.

From his recent op-ed:

Our citizens have always preferred bigger homes on lots with a backyard for barbecuing. They like driving cars while listening to music.

This general plan would be more at home in Sacramento or San Francisco. It is now popular in California for public policy to be made on the whimsical notions of the “intellectual elite.” They live off high six-figure salaries and have less common sense than the average Walmart clerk.

That said, this general plan is still focused on high-density infill development that is diametrically opposed to the free market. Until that fact changes, I cannot support this 2035 General Plan Update.

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/12/14/4283330/steve-brandau-proposed-general.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/12/14/4283330/steve-brandau-proposed-general.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter#storylink=cpy

The comments section is strongly against this attitude.

The people of Fresno know what the free-market magic has brought. It created blight, abandoned neighborhoods, one of the strongest income divides in the country, sky-high unemployment and a city that ranks near the bottom of a new list every week. Parks? Air quality? Active lifestyles? Bookstores? You name it, Fresno tanks it.

An opposing op-ed ran in the Fresno Bee describing what we see every day. It included the classic picture of Blackstone, a monument to free-market planning.

 photo blackstone_zps35305f42.jpg

We make a game of counting the billboards and signs. You take the billboards, and I’ll take the signs. We go a couple of blocks, fast-food bedlam, before our eyes give out. On the northeast corner of Blackstone and Shaw avenues, a white wattage flash startles the night. Billboard or sign, who can say?

One of my old high school buddies, who left years ago, argues that all you need to know about Fresno can be gleaned in a single Blackstone drive. No place with even a modicum of self-worth would allow such a disgrace, much less right down its spine

The rest of the article is well worth reading.

If any of this debate sounds familiar it’s because the process has been going on forever.

This was from April 2012.

Now, after the formation of a citizens committee, 12 community workshops and a citywide telephone survey, we’re about to see if the City Council has the backbone to stand up to developers seeking more Fresno sprawl.

The test comes 5 p.m. Thursday when the council selects one of five options for the 10-year update to the 2025 General Plan.

Way back then many concessions were made to developers. Of course now some are demanding the vote be delayed a few more months for more input/concessions. And yet, just this week

An estimated 350 people gathered at the Convention Center New Exhibit
Hall for the City Council’s hearing on the proposed 2035 general plan

All of them didn’t speak. But a lot did. And by all
accounts just about everyone was keenly interested in Mayor Ashley
Swearengin’s blueprint for growth.

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/12/11/4281459/live-blog-fresno-city-council.html#storylink=cpy

We know how Brandau will vote. The question is, will the rest of the council ignore the will of the people who have gone to meeting after meeting and saddle up to developers and their promises of short-term pay-days, or will they vote for a better future?

ead more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/12/11/4281459/live-blog-fresno-city-council.html#storylink=cpy

The council this year has voted to rip up the Fulton Mall, neuter BRT and shut down road diets. I can’t say I’m hopeful, but maybe this year can end on a good note.

37 Replies to “Will Fresno council kill infill general plan?”

  1. Im not a fan of Steve B AT ALL. Hes a tea party pawn bought out by the developers. We c what kinda vision urban sprawl gets us…its now time to make a pradigm shift n the way we plan growth!! Lets stand up to these developers and vote hi density!!!

  2. Hello Independent. I enjoyed ur pics on SD. I especially enjoyed ur knowledge on the different lighting structures and appliance. I trully believe that Fresno is WAAAY behind not only in infrasctrucure but lighting. Fresno streets r teeribly underlit. Whats the deal with that? All these peds getn hit by cars has alot to do with dark streets.

  3. I tried to get to the bottom of that myself. The city gave me the number of their engineering department.
    I asked public works why they upgraded certain intersections with new traffic lights to 200 watt HPS lights, up from 150 watts. By how they came off it sounded as if they considered brighter streetlights to be such a privilege. Their answer was that they 'upgraded the specification'. They never gave any answer as to what qualified those select streets as to receiving the lighting 'upgrade'. It's kind of interesting because when the city 'upgraded' Shaw ' s streetlights to LED, their contractor based the upgrade around the older 150 watt HPS lights rather then starting from scratch with a purpose built system or even basing it of off the upgraded 200 watt HPS lights. That's about as far as I manged to get with them. I wish I could go to the city council to pursue this further, but I live in SD now.

    1. The most frustrating conversation I had in 2014 was when I called that department to ask why they made so many poor design decisions with the Broadway project. They made it clear they had no idea what they were doing and didn't give a shit, but that they were doing me a grand favor by answering my call. With staff like that, its no surprise the city is in such bad shape.

      Incidentally, they eventually stated that crosswalks are too expensive because the thermoplast is pricey. Uhuh. Im sure next time they widen a road they will skip the lane markings because of price.

    2. Dammit im sick n tired of the city using "cost" at the issue for skimping and doin things half ass!! But I agree with u on the poor design of the loft especially the narrow sidewalks. Geeze Fresno.

    1. Well its just frustrating bcuz when I go to LA and spend the weekwnd there. Then when I come back to Fresno, you can REALLY notice the difference in the streeight intensity. Maybe they need to bump up the wattage or lumens or magbe decrease the height and spacing of the poles?? Idk. It just seems that Fresno ways does stuff half-assed. I heard the WHOLE LA area converted to LEDs?? And why is it our Fresno freewAys SOOOO DARK!!!! All the freeways lights are out with the exception of the "braided" area. And even THAT needs to be brightened. Thanx for your knowledge on this subject for this has been buggin the shit outta me for a looong time.

  4. Copper theives, they are the ones that rip out the wiring in the freeway lights making Fresno highways pitch black at night. They're also responsible for stealing the copper heads on the sprinklers Caltrans uses to water greenery as well as the copper wiring on the highway meters. They are relentless. There are ways of stopping the theft. My personal favorite being armored lock boxes for the pole boxes.


    The lighting on the new braided interchange was well done. My only real complaint is that the lights are around 4000k which is still a bit bluer then the ideal 3000k. Some of the LED freeway lights ,btw, are already going out…I'm guessing it probably is copper theives, sigh. I don't live in Fresno anymore otherwise I'd report the burn outs to Caltrans.

  5. Btw, I went to the east coast, New Jersey. Their highways are really well lit, at least on the Garden State Parkway. It's the second lighting system I've seen that has design redundency. The light from each pole interlaced so much with the next light such that if there was a burnout it would barely be noticable. You could also clearly read highway signs without headlights. It was pretty awesome to see in person.
    Some design info could be taken away from Jersey Expressways and implemented for Fresno notably the full cutoff 'shoebox' style lights seen here.


    Public works departments like shoeboxes because of their lower intial cost, they can omit the arm that typically carries the fixture.It may be a way Fresno could get a decent street lighting system on the cheap.

    1. See now THATS what Im talkin about. They have lights CONTINUOUSLY throughout the tunnel. Hell I was driving by Beyheymer and Maple and didnt even see the young skateboarder waiting at the light. And why does the news or cops always make an issue of what the ped was wearing when there is a hit and run? Dark clothing? Who the hell cares what color clothes they were wearing? If they had adequate lighting then these things wouldnt happen as much just my opinion.

    2. Also you got me thinking about intersection traffic signals mainly how older traffic signals compare to their newer counterparts not in the cobra head at the top but the smaller fixtures on it. I'm not talking about left hand turn arrows but the other features I've noticed that could go to greatly improving the city's navigable qualities.

    3. ….namely the signal heads. Older traffic signals use an 8 inch diameter signal cone while newer setups all use larger 12 inch signal heads. The mounting points for pedestrian crossing signals can also be very low. You can actually hit your head on some of them. Finally street names. Fresno only mounts one street name sign on the pole of each light while Los Angeles/Long Beach both mount their street names on the mast of the traffic light. The LA setup provides a more conspicuous design for street names. On a small side note, the mast mounted street signs can also be equipped with back lighting much like commercial street signs.

    4. The NJ highway image link isnt working.

      If the pedestrian signal is so low that you can hit your head, thats an ADA violation and an easy lawsuit to win.

      Im ok with how Fresno does street names. New Jersey and Mass, on the other hand, are atrocious when it comes to street name signs.

      The problem with the traffic signals for me is theres only one streetlight on each one, rather than two. For the avenues, there should be 8 street lights per intersection, not four.

    5. The lack of opposite street lights at Fresno and Clovis intersections is pretty concerning, but it's also reflective of the one-size fits all mentality both cities have taken to street lighting. Take Clovis, for example, though at one point in time they made use of fairly good full-cutoff HPS cobraheads they still used the same 4 light setup with150 watt HPS fixtures as they would on a small intersection like Nees an Minnewawa as they would on larger intersections like Herndon and Clovis Ave. Notice a pattern here? Though, interestingly the intersection of Clovis and Shaw does appear to be fitted with brighter fixtures, and the repair PG&E did at Herndon and Peach all seem to be fitted with more potent fixtures. Shaw Ave. from Clovis eastward also seems to have brighter higher powered fixtures.

  6. Not all shoebox designs look too bad, and some LED options have a very streamlined dayform such as the shoe boxes Seven Eleven uses throughout the Fresno area. Admittedly this isn't the best picture, but you can find them on Google Street view at Blackstone and Bullard Ave.


    The only partial drawback to the ones Seven Eleven uses are their very high color temperature., the look too garish blue at night.

  7. Low pressure soduim, I'm suprised I haven't mentioned it yet. Low pressure sodium is potentially the most efficient light source known to man. To hang a number on that the efficiency, or luminious effficacy, of a regular icandescent bulb is 16 lumins to the watt. High pressure soduim is much better at around 90 lumins to the watt. Low pressure sodium is 180 lumins to the watt. So a 180 watt LPS light would give off as much light as a 360 watt HPS light or a 2,000 watt icandescent bulb. LPS can produce a very large amount of light with little electricity. Also, most light sources, HPS, LED, Metal Halide, degrade in their light output. LPS doesn't loose significant light output as it ages. Here is a picture of some LPS lights.


    Here's the dayform.


  8. Also wanted to mention, LPS emits light more along the lines of flourescent tube light then a bright arc lamp, so instead of a sharp or bright light there is a soft luminious glow.

  9. Yes we c those LPS lights all too often. That dull orange glo is for the birds. I feel we need a more natural light that easier on the eyes. Theres very bright LED streetlights around 101 near arroyo grande and the light up the WHOLE intersection.

  10. It depends what you refer to as being 'more natural' light as to being easier on the eyes. A light source with a strong blue component will have a greater pronounced effect of discomfort then a light source with a lower blue component. The PDF titled Seeing Blue goes into more detail.


    Basically speaking light described as being 'daylight white' will create greater discomfort then a light source with a lower blue component like Low Pressure Soduim which has no blue component at all, or even warm white lighting.

  11. I think I'll play the devil's advocate.There are full-cutoff LPS luminaries that can fit in on Fresno street lights with little modification. Keep in mind LPS is perhaps the most efficient light source known to man.


    I wanted to bring a bit more into the mix especially after hearing how the City of Fresno showered itself in praise for claiming to be 'ingenuitive' after it cemented pole boxes shut and replaced lights that were burnt out.

  12. Btw, I was also looking into Mayor Swarengen ' s propesed lighting cuts several years ago, and I couldn't help but chime in. There was a proposal by the mayor several years ago to turn off a number of lights to save money, and people were all feed about which neighborhoods would see the cuts. Yet, I'm suprised Fresno didn't look elsewhere for cost cutting tips. I think one of the best examples of cost cutting is in Tucson Arizona where neighborhoods elect to keep their street lights for a small monthly service charge. Neighborhoods that elect not to receive street lighting don't have the service charge. It's placing power in the hands of the people and saving city lighting funds.

    1. You may not agree with it now, but keep in mind that Fresno came very close to removing lights from neighborhoods whether the residents liked it or not. Also keep in mind that such a resident subsidized system could free up funding to better equip, read as new infrastructure, far more heavily used arterial streets and avenues.

    2. At least for biking, its more comfortable to bike on the secondary streets than the arterial. I used to bike to work to a job on Shaw, but I took Gettsyburg the entire way of course.

    3. Now a street like Gettysburg is worth upgrading. The roads I'm talking about that don't need extensive lighting systems are small residential roads that wind around suburbia, think E.Railto Ave. by N. 4th Street.

  13. Also found this.


    This little bit caught my eye.
    "Barfield also said that Baines' office was looking into replacing the bulbs in the few street lights around Belgravia and Holly with newer, brighter LED ones, but he added that some of the old wooden street lights can't use such lights." Now when he's saying wooden poles I'm assuming the fixtures he's referring to are these…


    They most likely are cobraheads mounted on wooden poles. I that case the fixtures can most certainly be swapped for improved full-cutoff LED fixtures. As I understand the mountings for most cobraheads are nearly universal, so refit should be too difficult.


    The re-fits shouldn't be too hard either.


    I do recall Cree even offering a $100 led street light which, in certain cases, is cheaper then going about fixing the existing light.

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