Category: Parks

Fresno COGS asking for feedback on 2020 Fresno County Regional Trails Plan

The Fresno Council of Governments and Fresno County are developing the 2020 Fresno County Regional Trails Plan, which will create recommendations for the ongoing development of new trail connections that create a safe, comfortable, and connected network for walking/hiking, off-road biking and horseback riding.

Note: Don’t confuse this with the Trail Network Expansion Feasibility Plan, which is a CITY of Fresno plan. This new plan is for the entire county and will focus on unpaved recreational trails and paved shared-use paths in Fresno County, including county areas within Fresno.

There’s two ways for you to comment, a survey and a map. They both can be found on this page. You do the simple survey first, and then get shown a map of existing trails. You can then click on segments and make comments. For example, you can tell them that the Van Ness trail is not very useful. Once you’re done commenting on existing trails, you can draw your own preferred future trails. Click to read more!

Fresno downtown and midtown photo update!

This will be my last Fresno construction update photo dump for awhile! Once again, I’ve gotten far behind and my photos are quickly becoming out of date. So rather than 2-3 posts, they’re all going in here!=&0=&=&1=&

Clovis Infill – A Photo Update

It feels a little odd talking about infill in Clovis. It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, as the city is known for its endless subdivisions. And yet in 2017, Old Town Clovis appears to have almost as much infill construction as Downtown Fresno going on.

I reported on two of these projects in July 2015, but I’ve added a few other ones here.

  • Centennial Plaza
  • La Quinta Inn
  • Rail-Trail Housing
  • New Library
  • Sierra Meadows Park
  • Clovis Community Hospital

Centennial Plaza

Let’s start with the big one: Centennial Plaza. This is the heart of Old Town on Pollasky, and I last took a look in May 2016 when the new plaza was finished. That update was focused on the street improvements, but now new buildings are rising up to frame the plaza.

Only 3 stories tall, the new building does make an impression in a downtown where a second story is a novelty.




No basement here


Close to the street





Construction has also started on the building framing the other side of the plaza





La Quinta Inn

A wee bit south, we find construction has finally started on La Quinta Inn. I reported on this one in May of 2015. Aside from building on a vacant lot, what makes this development interesting is that the hotel will be built over parking. This signals that demand for development in Old Town has increased to the point where large surface parking lots no longer make economic sense.

It’s a start.







Rail-Trail Housing

In that same post from July of 2015, I talked about an approved plan to build new homes on an oddly shaped lot at Sierra and Clovis. What made the plan unique was that two of the homes would front the regional bicycle trail.

Construction has begun:


The existing homes are very modest


The alley will allow for rear driving access



The existing homes are getting carports added






 View from the trail





New Library

The existing Clovis library is a disgrace. It’s about twenty years overdue for a replacement, and fortunately, one is coming soon.

Here we see the completed Old Town trail, looking towards the new library complex



Nothing has started yet, but it is expected soon.


The new complex will be behind this existing resting point


As an aside, that little station has a trail map which is actually updated every year



Looking north, the property is still on the right


It will link to Clovis Avenue


Here is the exterior of the existing library, which will be retained as another government building





I stopped by on a day they were closed. Whoops. However, you can see how narrow the building is…



Sierra Meadows Park

Moving to the more suburban areas, we have Sierra Meadows Park. This is quite possibly the slowest park project in California. It appears that every year they add one little feature. Over the past five years, they’ve added benches, some lighting, and bags for dog waste. 2017 is supposed to see the arrival of restrooms.



This might be where the new restrooms are going


Someone posted an overhead video on Youtube taken from a drone. It does an excellent job of showing that 90% of the park is still just empty space. The plan includes adding a lake, auditorium, playground etc. Maybe by 2030?

Clovis Community Hospital 

This hospital doesn’t stop growing. Admittedly, the one type of development I rarely follow is that related to hospital construction. While they’re open to the public, they’re not quite public spaces. They’re also very insular.


However I stopped by to see if any work has been done on connecting the regional bicycle trail network. Green shows what exists, red what is proposed.


The Clovis Trail maps show the proposal


I did find some trail, which appears to have been built in the past two years. Not the connector though.




Walking to 168 to see where the tunnel would go



And I think that’s it for Clovis. The infill anyway. Like always, there are 500+ homes tract under construction at the city edge.

A quick update on downtown Fresno construction projects

It’s been a few months since I’ve been able to post photos of what has been changing in downtown Fresno. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to explore the area and take photos, so I present to you a different type of update. Here are some photos I took in May, along with a look at what those projects look like this week, with photos sourced from friendly people around the web. It’s amazing how much (and how little!) can change in 3 months.

=&1=& When I last visited this project, it looked like this:

And now it looks like this:

Source: High Speed Rail Authority

The bridge is slated to be completed this year.


It is very difficult to provide a summary of the Fulton Mall, because it is such a massive project. That is, every block is in a different stage of development, as you can see in my full post here. However, the most obvious changes are at the southern end, where construction began.

My photos from May:


Steve Skibbie provides a look at progress this week from overhead.

02 Steve Skibbie

And the Fresno Bee from the ground.

03 Fresno Bee


Bus Rapid Transit is sort of under construction. I say sort of because Fresno is no longer getting anything that resembles BRT. But those sweet, sweet transit funds are being put to use. The project involves realigning some bus stops – which happens to be a perfect opportunity to rebuilt the Van Ness underpass. Indeed, it’s why BRT is so expensive, most of the funding is being used to upgrade old car infrastructure, like traffic lights, and do so while spending transit funds. Sad.

I don’t have a before photo, so here is a rendering of the new intersection (above the underpass)

05 BRT

And another great photo by Steve Skibbie.

04 Steve Skibbie

And one from the Downtown Fresno Partnership

06 downtown fresno part

It’s not all transportation related!


The Lede is a full block residential development by GV Urban. It looked mostly done when I photographed it in May, but apparently got held up by utility issues and will open next month. Here are my photos from May:









And an interior shot by GV Urban.

07 lede

Nearby preservation of a beautiful brick building is underway.




Progress has been very slow on the Cultural Arts park, which is now about a year behind schedule.

From May:




Christopher Rocha shared updated photos on the Downtown Fresno Facebook page.

09 christopher rocha park 2

08 christopher rocha park 1


And finally, moving a little north, to 541 at South Tower, a brand new building constructed in a beautiful art deco style.

Here it is back in May:




And more recently on the Facebook page:

10 south tower

11 south tower

Bonus: The style fits in with the area:



There’s a lot going on, regarding infrastructure, although this investment has yielded little private (unsubsidized) investment. Let’s hope that changes soon.

Other development in the area includes:

-Yet another expansion to Community Medical Center
-BitWise technology center
-The renovation of Warehouse Row.

The First5 building was also finished, which I profiled before, and the Greyhound station is about to be demolished.

I’ll probably do another photo update before the end of the year, when the Fulton project is completed.

If you like Pokemon, you have a new reason to hate the suburbs

By now, you have most likely heard of Pokemon Go, a simple free-to-play phone game that has seemingly taken the country by storm. If you’re not playing it, you’ve certainly seen it mentioned on your social media feeds. If not there, then you’ve undoubtedly dodged people playing it while walking down the sidewalk. If that still doesn’t ring any bells, then perhaps the following articles do:

Recode: What is Pokémon Go and why is everybody talking about it? Squirtle? Pikachu? Where are youse? Find ’em with new Pokemon GO app
NPR: Gotta Catch ‘Em All, Or At Least A Few: A Pokemon Neophyte Tries ‘Pokemon GO’
KTVQ: Wyoming teen playing new Pokemon game on phone discovers body
Gamespot: Washington’s Department of Transportation: don’t play while driving.
NBC LA: Players in Hunt for ‘Pokemon Go’ Monsters Feel Real-World Pain

Based off the popular game series (that turns 20 this year!) the game is all about interacting with the real world. The company which coded the game was spun off from Google, and so the game world is based off Google Maps. That means roads, buildings, parks etc. are all where you would expect them to be.

There are two core aspects of the game that rely on real world locations. Pokestops, where you can collect free items, and Pokemon Gyms, where you battle. These locations tend to be at local points of interest. Libraries, churches, fountains, random murals, historical placards etc. And of course, you encounter Pokemon on your walks to these locations.

You don’t get to these locations virtually – the game requires you to physically arrive close to that location, preferably by walking. As such, the game experience is entirely different between those who live in dense, urban areas with tight street networks and scores of points of interest, and those who don’t.

New York City
A suburb in Tennessee
An exurb
A rural area

You don’t need a Manhattan-style grid to enjoy Pokemon, but you do need density if you want to have any fun.

Sydney, Australia

Laguna Beach, California

Sure, you can drive to a Pokestop, but the game encourages physically walking via the eggs, which require distance logged to hatch. Oh, and apparently that distance counter stops if you go above 10mph, so don’t even bother cheating.

Additionally, in a dense area, a 15 minute walk can have you pass by 10 different stops, 3 gyms, and 7 Pokemon encounters. In a suburb, your drive might yield one. Not so fun. 

Pokemon Go is motivating millions of people to lace up their shoes and hit the streets in pursuit of Pokemon, Stops, and Gyms. I wonder how many people will be motivated into thinking about living somewhere a little more dense?

I’m not being entirely

facetious here. We know media and exposure has a huge effect on people’s preferences, and that includes games. Most urban planners I know played Sim City growing up. I would wager that every current NFL player spent years playing Madden and imagining themselves in the game.  Click to read more!

A quick look at Clovis’s new Centennial Plaza

Tomorrow Old Town Clovis hosts their first ever parklet festival. When posting that reminder, I realized I never upload photos of the new Centennial Plaza and streetscape development. I talked about it back in July of 2015, and I visited the area a few months ago, but never actually posted them!

If you visit the parklet exhibitions, you will surely see the new plaza. The city planners will also be using the festival as an opportunity to celebrate the groundbreaking of two new buildings what will ride on vacant lots on either side of the plaza.

So let’s take a quick look. As you can clearly see, these photos were taken in January, but aside from more greenery and less holiday decorations, the area looks the same today.

The plaza is located at Bullard and Pollasky. The project area included the intersection, the plaza, the surface parking lot (existing, it was re-organized), and the mini-section of Bullard west of Clovis Avenue.  You can clearly see the two empty lots set for development.

Looking at the plaza from the street parking on Bullard.

The new lights have outlets, probably to accommodate the numerous events held in Old Town. 

 Looking at the new streetscape improvements. Extended sidewalks for pedestrians, textured crosswalks, and low curbs. Lots of new lights as well.

The tree has leaves now. I am not sure if the bollards can be or should be removed when the street is closed to cars for special events. Note the lights have two heads – critical redundancy for crosswalks.

Plenty of new signs.

Good ADA compliance.

One of the new buildings will go here. 

And the other will go here. 

Seen from one side…  

 And seen from the other side.

Center tree in the new plaza.

Some seating, but could use more shade.

More seating. We’re looking from Pollasky over to Clovis Avenue.

The parking lot in the center of the block was redone to create a better walkway, and add new lighting. Once the new buildings go up, it will be hidden.

The parking lot is accessed from Clovis. This used to be a random and ugly dead-end street. It has since been formalized as a more attractive entrance to the surface lot.

  This is Clovis Avenue. A new pedestrian walkway leads here. Clovis Avenue needs work.

Too many lanes on Clovis Avenue

While the streetscape improvements did involve new curb cuts on Clovis, they didn’t impact safety on Clovis proper. Still lots of work to do.

  This section of Clovis was done on a different project.

And that’s it!

Reminder: Clovis Parklet Festival is This Weekend!

This is a reminder that on May 14 and May 15, Old Town Clovis will be hosting a “taking it to the streets” event, where a variety of parklets are presented to the public. Parklets are mini parks installed on a street parking space to add greenery, seating, art or other amenities to downtown areas. The event is intended to build teamwork, showcase art, and provide a proof of concept to area businesses of what a permanent installation could look like.

This is what the website says:

The Old Town streets have always been a place where people gather to enjoy local life and festivities.  Streets increasingly play important ecological roles in the city, with strategies that serve to magnify the space as a livable and living, place.  Many highly beneficial social outcomes, including economic growth, increased health, and improvements in air quality are linked to well-designed streets that enable active social and ecologic life.  “Taking it to the streets” seeks to elaborate on the street’s role as an agent of social life.

Click to read more!

Thoughts on Chaffee Zoo Expansion and Roeding Park (with pictures)

I haven’t been a huge fan of the expansion of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Not because I hate zoos, but because the expansion required taking a huge portion of a public park and fencing it off. What used to be free public space now requires a ticket, and is only open during business hours (until 4pm for most of the year).

Unfortunately, Fresno has one of the worst park systems in the country, and the expansion reduced the size of the system further. It makes sense to expand the zoo in a contiguous fashion – you can’t
have half the zoo located three blocks away. Also, it’s cheaper to
replace grass and benches then it is to replace an elephant habitat. However, no mitigation was put in place. No effort was made to replace the park space anywhere else, including across the street, in a lot that has sat empty for decades.

That being said, I did visit the zoo a couple of months ago to see how the expansion fit into the park. I also looked around the park to see what other changes were made, especially the new dog park.

Let’s take a look.

This image shows the zoo expansion. The area in red was converted from public park space to private zoo space. 

I visited on a crowded day. Parking was extended into an “overflow” lot, which also happens to sit in the middle of the park. I believe the zoo should consolidate all parking into a garage across the street, leaving the park as a park.

The new expansion is the African Adventure.

The first set of pictures are the trail to the left. Then you return to the large brown area, which is the cafe and seating area, to go to the trail on the right.

One aspect of the expansion that I was very happy to see was the preservation of many, if not most of the mature trees.

The old trees make it seem like the expansion has been there forever (because the park has been).

 Most animals in the new area have giant habitats. Unfortunately, the cheetahs do not.

One of the problems with zoos, especially the Fresno Zoo, was the use of very small enclosures. The new expansion rectifies it. While the expansion added a dozen or more animals, they all share one massive habitat.

Sometimes that means you can’t find your favorite animal, but it is great for them. It reminds me of the San Diego Zoo.


When I visited, some temporary barriers had been put in place because all the animals weren’t comfortable sharing a large space yet. I am not sure if that barrier has been removed yet.

The preserved trees really add to the experience. Roeding Park has some of the largest trees in the city.

 The animals in the new expansion area.

Aside from a new habitat, the facility added some lovely spaces for people, including this cafe area overlooking the new enclosure. 

The view from the eating area.

Some “indoor” spaces.

An animal bridge.

This portion of the park has been enclosed as the zoo but has no animal habitats. I believe it is for future expansion. However, I think it was poor form to close this area off many years before they need to use it.

The green fence in the back is the line between the zoo and the park. There is no reason why they couldn’t have placed that fence where the wooden one is, leaving that area as free park land for the pubic.

This area has a dirt walking path. Exhibit on left, nothing on right.

More well preserved park area – just on the wrong side of the fence.

The nice grove and surrounding grass is useless to zoo visitors but would still be used by area residents if it hadn’t been sealed off.

 Still clearly Roeding Park.

This area is even worse. Inside the zoo boundary but fenced off from the zoo area.  So no one gets to go here.

The trail ends at a dead-end, so you walk back the way you came to the cafe lounge. (The jackets date these photos!)

That’s it for the new expansion. For reference, this is the bear exhibit in the older area, which highlights one of the major problems at the zoo: tiny, tiny habitats. While the new expansion fixes that, the old area remains the same.

Now we exit the zoo and take a look at what improvements have been made around the park as part of the project.

On old loop road now ends awkwardly at the zoo boundary.

The zoo expansion was built in an area that used to house a number of lovely lakes. To replace them, a new, larger lake was built. When I visited, it wasn’t quite done.

It was built where the dog parks used to be – my prime reason for visiting Roeding in the past.

I assume there is grass now, as it has been a couple of months since these photos were taken.

I hope they’re adding stuff in the middle.

Another awkward transition.

The old dog park bench is still there.

 For reference, the old lakes:

Moving on, the zoo boundary doesn’t interact with the park in the best way.  I don’t know why the dog park wasn’t placed here on the left.

 Now my mission was to find the relocated dog parks. Unfortunately, there was no signage.

No maps either.

 And there they are.

They can’t be serious.

So they literally picked up the dog park, and placed it in a grassy area, without trees. And didn’t bother to maybe spruce up the grass. Can you tell this is brand new?

 The budget for this relocation must have been in the hundreds of dollars.

I get being on a budget, but they really couldn’t even wash the ancient water fountains when they relocated them?

 Wow, look how much fun. This place will be a blast in the Fresno summer heat.

 For reference, the old dog park:

As was the case in the original area, there is a big dog and small dog area.

Sadly, both are smaller than they were before.

 Even though the surrounding area is empty, they still made the dog park smaller.

The bench made the big move.

The absolute worst part is the location. See the background? That’s Highway 99. 24/7 traffic, thousands of trucks. That means constant noise and enormous amounts of exhaust.

Look how close the highway is!

I’m extremely disappointed at this part of the project.

You commandeer a public park and can’t be bothered to at least improve what you displaced?

Was planting a few trees, adding some amenities, and picking a decent location too much trouble?

 These nearby trees are nice, but they’re in a roadway median.

Overall, the zoo expansion looks great. The habitat is nice, and they did a wonderful job at preserving the park setting. It really makes the zoo a prime attraction.

However, the project clearly didn’t give a damn about the neighborhood, taking over more park space than they needed, and replacing what they destroyed with something much worse. They did not appear to have replaced the horseshoe area, the new lake is boring, and the dog park is a disgrace.

It’s a shame the councilor who represents the neighborhood did not demand his constituents be respected.

Fulton Mall supporters continue to fight removal of pedestrian mall

Last week, the city of Fresno held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of the deconstruction of Fresno’s Fulton Mall. However, there is still a small chance that this project can be stopped and the pedestrian mall can be saved.

Groundbreakings are purely symbolic. Some are held months, or even years before real construction begins. Others are actually held after construction has begun. All a groundbreaking is, is a photo opportunity for politicians involved in the project. For private projects, a groundbreaking can serve as a way to reassure investors on progress. For public projects, they serve as fodder for campaign materials

I was sent a press release which reminds us that the fight to preserve the mall has not ended. A group of preservationists is still moving through the legal process, and is soliciting donations.

The Downtown Fresno Coalition is raising funds to appeal a recent ruling of the United States Federal Court, Eastern District of California, denying their request for relief on grounds that the City of Fresno’s plan to demolish the historic Fulton Mall and replace it with 20 feet of asphalt is contrary to the National Environmental Protection Act and laws governing the Department of Transportation. The Downtown Fresno Coalition was formed to promote responsible revitalization of downtown Fresno and for the past 14 years has supported restoration of the recognized historic resource that is Fresno’s Fulton Mall.

Click to read more!