Category: Uncategorized

Central Valley Media Needs Help More than Ever

It’s almost the end of 2019, and you’ve probably seen a bunch of those “10-year challenge” posts (#10YearChallenge) where people look back at 2009/2010 and compare themselves or things with how they are now.

Sadly, it’s not something you’ll really see from local media. If the Fresno Bee did a #10YearChallenge post, it would probably look something like this. with the old Bee on the left, and the current Bee on the right.

Unfortunately, even as Central California has continued to grow at a very rapid pace, the fourth estate has been heading in the opposite direction. This year, the decline in local journalism appears to have accelerated, with the Bee ending their Saturday edition and the Fresno State Collegian sounding the alarm that they might only make it one more year. Click to read more!

We’ve moved to!

Hopefully, you’ve noticed some minor changes to this website. Although minor is somewhat major considered I haven’t changed anything since I launched back in 2011.

Basically, a year or so into doing this blog, I decided I should probably get a custom URL instead of . Unfortunately, someone already owned . They weren’t actually doing anything – it led to a page advertising the company that sold the URL – but they sat on it for YEARS. Every once in awhile I’d check, and sure enough, no changes to the ownership.

Until this past January, when it became available to purchase!

So now is mine, and leads here.

My long standing plan was simply to own this URL and have it link back to the same old website. That is, I’d have a friendly URL to share, with no additional changes. But there were two issues:

  1. My gf kept telling me my website was super ugly
  2. The photobucket incident

To the first point, I’ve always liked classic blog style. I like seeing posts in sequential order, so when I visit a blog I like, I always know what is new and what I missed. I detest the movement towards home pages that throw in 30 different posts. Sure, for a new visitor, that’s great because they see so much content up front. But for a frequent visitor, I think it’s a pain to see old posts and have to hunt for the new. And let’s be honest, this blog isn’t attracting thousands of new visitors a day, so I would rather cater to my usual readers.

Why change anything at all? Well, last year, Photobucket changed their policy and ended free 3rd party hosting, making a lot of my old posts useless. That made me a bit worried about blogger. You see, Blogger is run by Google, who also loved to kill products. Indeed, before using Photobucket, I used Google-owned Picassa, which was actually built into Blogger. Well, they killed Picassa and replaced it with Google Photos, which doesn’t do 3rd party hosting (I’ve been using Flickr since then).  There are also dozens of other products they have killed off over the years. While Blogger seems too big to fail, Google hasn’t actually done anything with it in years, which is a red flag.

In the effort to be safe rather than sorry, I decided to take this opportunity and move to a self-hosted WordPress website. That means it is completely on me if this website continues to exist, not on Google or anyone else.

Anyway, while my girlfriend was hopeful this meant I would “spruce things up,” I have done my best effort to keep things looking the same, to the best of my ability.

I don’t really know much about website design, so I’m just crossing my fingers that everything is working. So far, it appears that I have done everything right, and links both on this website and on external websites should point to the right place in most cases. Apparently any post with “a” in the title will be broken, so I have to manually fix those. But I even got the comments to migrate, so that’s great!

Leave me a comment if things are working on your end. If they’re not, you can let me know at 

Also, if there’s any change you would like to see, design-wise, now is the time to mention it! Again, I don’t code or anything, but if there’s a widget, I can handle installing that.

Oh, there is one change I will be making: I do intend to categorize my posts and have a category menu. Stuff like transit, fulton mall, whatever. I need to spend some time on that though.

Google Maps Launches Areas of Interest – How Accurate is it in Fresno?

A week or so ago, Google refreshed their maps service. Most of the changes were minor – new road outlines, a different typography, and a few other minor tweaks designed to make the maps easier to understand. However, as part of that update, they introduced what could be a major new feature: areas of interest. =&0=&: Montpelier, the capital of Vermont. With only 7,855 people, it is the smallest capital in the country. At a glance, the areas of interest seem to work quite well. The new shading does draw you in quickly.=&1=&

This is what the destruction of Fresno’s Fulton Mall looks like

Fresno’s pedestrian mall, one of the first in the country, is no more. A multi-year campaign by the city to remove the pedestrian and bicycle mall it and replace it with a street for cars has been successful, as (de)construction is well underway.

I took a walk down the entire length last week and took too many pictures. This post, from August, has some reference pictures as to what it looked like a year ago. Be warned, this post is long.

The north part has totally been removed. The center part looks disconcerting, with plenty of mall left but lots of destruction. The southern end has already progressed to the point that concrete is being laid for the parking areas.

The speed of this project has surprised me. Kicking off was a year delayed (original completion date was next month) but they’ve since moved quickly after a March groundbreaking. That’s certainly good for the businesses which are in a bad shape right now. However, I was surprised to see how superficial the construction was. It appears that they scraped off the mall and are laying the new road straight on the dirt. That is, I didn’t see any digging. I assume the area has very old sewer and electrical systems, and now would have been the very best time to replace those. Maybe lay some fiber cable as well? Seems short-sighted to ignore that. If the area “booms” as the project component claims, will the existing underground infrastructure support them?

Section 1: Tuolumne to Fresno

We start at Fulton and Tuolumne, which is the north end of the mall. For reference, all pictures taken lastThursday starting at around 4pm.

No work at the intersection yet, which is slated to get major pedestrian improvements.

The orphan street, which hasn’t led anywhere in 40 years, is being used for staging. 

 And so we begin. A pedestrian promenade reduced to around 8 feet of walking space.

The walkway to CVS.

The former mall

Narrow walkway between construction and a parking lot.

 This would make a good Halloween maze.

Maybe a maze with a maximum security prison theme.

 Looking backwards

One of the side streets, which were also all pedestrianized. 

Ah! Suddenly the claustrophobia ebbs and fences make way for trees, a playground, and open pedestrian space. For now.

I guess it was nice of them to leave the playground a little longer. Remember, the city claimed that this project would not impact park space at all.  (Fresno is 97th in park space, out of 100).

But not all is well.

Another oasis remains, for now.

 Looking back.

Warning: Massive amount of pictures after the jump.

This pub is owned by one of the strongest voices supporting the destruction of the Fulton Mall. The yellow tape marks the boundary of his outdoor seating/alcohol area.

Really a pleasant area to eat, drink, chat, and gather.

Although the owner, Craig Scharton, claimed that the project would only yield dividends to business, he closed up shop. I guess destruction scares customers away. He claims he will re-open when construction ends. We’ll see.

A few fountains remain.

You quickly notice how people walk along the shade.

Looking back.

Businesses are closing earlier than they would in the past. 


When the mall was built, creating shade was key. That won’t be the case in the future.

Section 2: Fresno to Tulare

We cross Fresno Street. 

You can still get the mall experience here.

For a little bit. Before you reach destruction. 

The new Fulton Street will not have any bicycle parking.

 The new Fulton Street will not have any bicycle lanes.

I think these trees are being saved? I hope so.

The areas that aren’t disaster zones still see shoppers.


Down a side street. Parking is coming to this stub.

Fresno’s most famous sculpture has been hauled away, to be refurbished.

This is outrageous. This business as only open for a few months when they (and their neighbors) wee forced to close due to a lack of electricity. It has since been a year. I was told that developers were going to start investing the SECOND the shovels started digging?

Not working. 

 Looking backwards

This fountain was filled in many years ago, as part of the city’s neglect of the mall.

Skateboard, bicycle, bicycle. The new Fulton Street will have zero accommodations for these folks. 

This store is quite unique.

Section 3: Tulare to Inyo

And now we get to the southern end. This part has progressed the most. However, the construction treatment is abysmal. If you wanted to kill every business this is how you’d do it.

Who on earth wants to walk down this? Narrow, dark, limited exists… it’s like crime alley.

Sure there are signs for the businesses… 

And there were some pedestrians, but I can’t imagine the businesses are enjoying this. 

Behind the fence, scenes from a disaster movie.

A maze to reach the stores


What was my favorite fountain.

Come shop guys.

Businesses are open. 

Casa de Tamales is barely a couple of months old here. I hope they survive this.

This is an accurate representation of future bicycle facilities on Fulton Street.


 This tiny part will actually remain as a pedestrian mall.

I feel so safe.

While the alleys will see more traffic, there are no plans to spruce them up.

Let’s cut across quickly and look at the opposite side.

Landscaping being removed to add angled parking. 

And again, the new circulation plan means that to access many of the new parking spaces, one will have to treat themselves to a lovely drive through these alleys.

No money has been earmarked to make these look pleasant or safe. They will make a lovely impression on opening day.

Concrete has already been placed for the parking area. As I mentioned previously, it appears that no subterranean upgrades were performed. 

And we reach the end.

 The ever-so-lively existing Fulton Street shows us the wonderful future of the mall.

We can walk around to the East side. 

And take this very lovely funnel hallway

To this very lovely enclosed space, which is completely invisible from absolutely all angles. Perfect murder spot really.The city kicked out all the vendors in that store a few years ago.

Escape route blocked off.


Elevators functional.

Inside the old department store.

We can ride this baby to the roof.  I’m sure all of the future visitors, after driving from their northern suburban home, will be thrilled to use this.

Parking is plentiful.

And we can sort of look at the construction. I believe that will be a midblock crosswalk. You can see how narrow the future sidewalk will be.


Bonus: Across the street this lovely new residential building which opened last year. 

 And this exciting venture.

Ahem. Anyway. $20 million available for cars, but apparently zero for this disaster. I trust you will believe me that the smell makes the NYC subway feel like the Swizz countryside.

Future visitors will be thrilled.

And that’s it! Fulton Mall from end to end. Next time I do a photo update I expect that all remaining traces of the mall will be gone. Again, for the sake of the businesses, I hope the city works as fast as possible.

That Fresno Blog returns – Also, why does the Fresno blog scene suck?

The Fresno blogosphere is surprisingly desolate. With a metropolitan population of just under 1 million, you’d expect a lot of voices online, typing away about Fresno food, events, crime, planning – whatever. However, for reasons I don’t fully understand, that’s quite not the case.=&0=&

Tijuana Airport is now directly connected to San Diego!

It’s been a long time coming, but just this week a private company finally opened a new “terminal” in the US that connects you directly into the Tijuana airport.

An innovative privately operated international port of entry connecting San Diego with Tijuana’s A.L. Rodriguez International Airport launched operations on Wednesday, opening a new chapter in cross-border travel.

Years in the planning, the 9 a.m. opening of the Cross Border Xpress took place with little fanfare — just the presence of luggage-toting airline passengers who smiled broadly after taking minutes to cross from Tijuana to San Diego. They emerged from what looked like a long hallway spanning the international border, presenting documents to U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors, and proceeded to their destinations. 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.

“We have to do it with the resources we have available,” Swearengin said.
Fresno Bee

While the mayor is pushing through, the final decision to sign the cheque is up to the City Council – a council which is wary about projects that are late and over budget.

That means, if you are interested in saving the Fulton Mall, you have one last opportunity to contact your council member and tell them why you don’t think they should approve the plan.

You can find who your representative is here:

Their emails are formatted as 

Remember, you can see my analysis of the construction diagrams here

I’ve written a letter addressing the following points:

  • The project is already over-cost and delayed, can we trust the other promises the city has made?
  • The mayor is promising to bring a list of changes to cut the budget – shouldn’t the vote be delayed so the people of Fresno can review those changes? Details matter. We should know what’s being chopped and have a time to comment.
  • The plan should be modified into a phased approach, so the cost and time of the conversion of one block (the northern-most) can be analyzed to see if it will hold true for the entire project. For these types of projects they always fund buried power-lines and sewer lines that weren’t mapped – adding millions in costs and months of delays.
  • Click to read more!

    Fresno is finally getting a Tesla Supercharger

    Over the past few years, I’ve posted about how Fresno is severely lacking in electric vehicle charging infrastructure. It’s especially disturbing because the state has put so many incentives in place, and yet, instead of deploying the chargers where the worst air quality is, they’re all installed in the Bay Area or LA. Three years ago, there were a grand total of zero public chargers in the area. Fortunately, that has improved. Now, Fresno State offers public chargers, and there are a few others scattered across town.

    However. one of the biggest backers of electric vehicle chargers has been Tesla, and they’ve been MIA. They have been deploying a network of proprietary “superchargers” nationwide to help sell their cars:

    Superchargers are free connectors that charge Model S in minutes instead of hours. Stations are strategically placed to minimize stops during long distance travel and are conveniently located near restaurants, shopping centers, and WiFi hot spots. Each station contains multiple Superchargers to help you get back on the road quickly. 

    Although the original intention was to act as fueling stations along long-distance route, Tesla quickly began saturating markets with them.

    This March, I noticed that as their network kept expanding, there was one giant hole – you guessed it, the Central Valley. Only a single station on I-5 between San Francisco in LA.

    Forget serving the Fresno market – Tesla didn’t even appear interested in servicing 99 or even the massive market of people driving to the national parks.

    It looks like that will change within the next month.

    Look closely and you’ll see that the Tesla map now features a grey “coming soon” icon in the Fresno area.

     photo charger1_zps96cuoem3.png

    Additional snooping has revealed the exact location – At Herndon and 99, in the new strip mall.
     photo charger2_zpsonyw1sqn.png

    Electric cars may be green, but massive parking lots are anything but

      photo charger4_zpsylc3gw34.png

    It’s a surprising location. While it serves the 99 market well, it’s not ideal for folks going to Yosemite, Sequoia, or China Peak. The ideal location, of course, would be in the downtown triangle, where all the freeways meet. A secondary location would be Fashion Fair, right off 41, or River Park.

     photo charger3_zpsshjzifsf.png

    This new center is a bit isolated, but it is better than nothing. It is certainly good to see that the folks at Tesla finally discovered the center of the state. Maybe one of them tried to drive to Sequoia and realized they wouldn’t be able to make the trip.

    Construction has yet to begin, so it is unknown if it will be up and running before the holiday travel season.

    It would be nice to see additional stations in the future. Aside from downtown, River Park, and Fashion Fair, the 180 and Temperance area would be a good choice, along with 168 and Temperance near the Clovis Hospital.