Well, this is unexpected.
This May, the City of Clovis will host an “Urban Design Festival” which appears to be a competition to design and build a parklet. If you have never seen a parklet, it is where a mini-park is created using what were previously 1-2 parking spaces. Usually, these parklets offer some seating and greenery, as a way to expand the sidewalk and interface with nearby business. You know, the opposite of what Fresno is doing by removing park space to accommodate cars.
Parklets have popped up throughout the country, including in Los Angeles and San Francisco. As far as I know, there haven’t been any installed in the Central Valley.
Check out this example from Philadelphia, or browse dozens of examples here.
Take a look at the poster:
Here is the event description:
Clovis is TAKING IT TO THE STREETS!
have been subdued by the automobile. It’s time for us to take back our
streets, invite all of your friends to join in!
On May 14-15,
the City of Clovis will be hosting an Urban Design Festival in Old Town
Clovis. This fun weekend design festival offers the opportunity for all
community members to participate in creating human scale places in
parking spaces. Over the course of two days, school classes, designers,
builders, downtown businesses and EVERYONE is invited to create and
showcase unique, temporary urban settings. It is a little like a parade
where the floats are fixed and the public flows by.
TO THE STREETS is open to all interested parties free of charge and
designated spaces are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Turn
in an application to reserve a spot for your design. Awards for various
categories will be given on the first day of the festival.
For more information and application forms, visit http://
www.ci.clovis.ca.us/ Depts-Services/ Planning-and-Development/ Taking-it-to-the-Streets
I love the description of a “parade
where the floats are fixed and the public flows by.” However, it’s important to note the parklets will be spread throughout the downtown area, and not be placed side by side.
Clovis has an attractive walkable downtown, known as “Old Town” which is home to one of the best farmer’s markets in the region. However, the small center is more of a tourist attraction than a real place of business or residence, as the shops mostly sell antiques, trinkets, and curiosities. Fun to stroll, but you can’t get your weekly errands done on Pollasky (the through street). That being said, there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and coffee-shops that to provide a continuous attraction.
Here is a map of the downtown area and where the parklets will be installed:
Notice parklets also located on Clovis Avenue! Also, the satellite image clearly shows the new plaza and streetscape project on the southern end of Pollasky – look for my on-the-ground photos in a couple of weeks. The empty lots are slated for development.
Presumably, this exercise will be a way to show businesses the value of a parklet and evaluate different design preferences. I would be shocked if the city wasn’t surveying visitors to see their preference.
The reason I stated that this is unexpected is because Clovis has never been a strong advocate for urban amenities. Sure, 30 years ago Old Town was refurbished into the pleasant walkable neighborhood we see today (by adding the old west theme), but on the flip side, they turned down a mixed use housing proposal because they saw it as too dense (at four stories!).
In fact, this blog has not been kind at all to Clovis, which I associate with continued sprawl:
Walmart and McDonalds – the Clovis way of life?
Chipping away at the Clovis trail system – again.
Clovis: A pedestrian-oriented development without any sidewalks…?
Clovis sprawls north, wonders how to revitalize south
Come sprawl with Clovis
Although 2015 did see some good news:
Clovis now has an Urban Greening Master Plan
Exciting infill development coming to Old Town Clovis!
I think this is a good sign that they have heard the non-stop talk about revitalizing downtown Fresno and are ready to compete with their own urban amenities. Combined with the infill proposal, new plaza, and future library, City Hall may be coming around to a strong downtown. Naturally, Fresno should compete back by adding their own parklets.
If you’re interested in building a parklet, be sure to visit their website.
If you would simply like to attend, they have a Facebook event page to add to your calendar.
Note: I will be unavailable for about a week starting Tuesday February 9th.