Tag: city council

Fresno councilors trying to kill infill general plan again

Developers aching for more sprawl versus everybody else. Sound familiar? It should, because in December of 2014, I published this post: Will Fresno council kill infill general plan? with that exact sentence.

Five years later, here we are again.

As a reminder, the 2035 General Plan Update (enacted in late 2014) directed Fresno to focus on infill development instead of continuous sprawl. Local developers were furious, and pulled every trick they could to block it. Fortunately, the council at the time did listen to the people of Fresno, who throughout the public process strongly preferred curtailing sprawl. Click to read more!

Discussion begins in Fresno about prioritizing frequency over coverage on the bus network

Last month, the Fresno City Council heard a workshop on a proposed restructuring of the Fresno bus system (FAX), one that would allow for improved service on trunk routes, creating 15-minute headways in the corridors with the most transit demand.  =&0=&

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 firstname.lastname@fresno.gov 

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!

    Will NIMBYs derail new Fresno infill plan?

    I was pleasantly surprised to see last month that the City Council approved the general plan update on a vote of 5-2. Honestly, I expected them to punt it to 2015 on some sorry excuse about a need for more input. If you haven’t been following the new plans puts a focus on infill growth, rather than sprawl.


    No one noticed, but Fresno killed its proposed BRT system

    Nashville, and the ludicrous attempts to ban bus rapid transit (BRT) there by state legislators, has been getting all the news lately, but it’s not the only BRT system to see its future flushed down the toilet by short-sighted elected officials.=&0=&

    What’s next for the Fulton Mall?

    As you probably read in the Fresno Bee last week, the city council has voted to celebrate the Fulton Mall’s 50th anniversary by destroying it and building a road. The decision was surprising but not shocking: the council has yet to see a silver bullet revitalization project they didn’t love.

    This blog is obviously not in favor of the decision. Does the vote mean the fate has been sealed? Is it game over? Are the bulldozers on their way?


    The vote last week was to certify the EIR to move forward in the process. Absolutely no construction will happen on the Fulton Mall in 2014. So those looking to celebrate the mall’s 50th anniversary, you can do so in peace, under mature trees, and classic art.

    Yes, you might see even more fountains fall in disrepair, as the tiny maintenance budget has probably been completely zeroed out, but they will still exist. Sadly, the mall will be spending its birthday in the worst ever state of disrepair.

    The council has to vote again in January of 2015 to approve the final design, and the bid for construction. I believe at this point they have a 30% design. The city has to move to 90%, and submit the project for construction bid. If approved, construction would begin about 90 days later- so no sooner than a year from now.

    It’s important to note than only then will the actual cost of the project be known. Once that is known, the council must vote to hand over the money.

    Those of us who think the city has been playing loose with the cost expectations may see some good – or some terrible – news. If the design and bids come well above what has been promised, the council will not be happy. They simply will not vote for a project that is not 100% funded by outside sources (fed, state, county).

    Does a high price mean the project dies? Possibly. However, at the council meeting last week, the council, and the city, many times talked about value engineering the project if the cost escalates.

    That’s terrible news. Yo can’t lower the cost of the design work. You can’t cheapen the asphalt, or ask the contractor to cut their wages.

    So what can be cut? The art. The restoration. The fountains. You know, all the stuff that was sold to us as a benefit will be the first to get the ax. And if they do get cut, then we will truly be left with the most average of streets. That would be a disaster.

    That does present another lobbying opportunity though. The council didn’t seem bothered that the city had lied throughout the entire process, when they promised putting up three options for vote – and then only submitting one. However, they may be more concerned if every last vestige of the mall is removed from the project due to cost cutting.

    It’s not just the cost that may derail the project. The EIR was especially shoddy, as it claimed that the Fulton Mall was not a park, for example. Bad EIR means a lawsuit, or two.

    Ask yourself (or a judge!) what an open public space used by pedestrians and cyclists, filled with benches, public restrooms, playgrounds, fountains, a sound system, a stage, art, over a hundred trees, gazebos, etc is. I think most people would call it a park.

    It looks like a park, acts like a park, is used like a park….and was even maintained by the city parks department.

    It is a de facto park, and mitigation should have been considered during the EIR, but wasn’t.Instead the consultant stated that because the city didn’t call it a park, it’s not a park. When asked how a park is defined, they could not answer.

    I think a lawsuit pushing that point has strong standing.

    They also claim that the project will have zero traffic impacts, and no adverse affects on minorities.A road project that will create zero car trips? Huh?

    One group is hosting a fundraiser to sue the city.  I’m sure they’re not alone.

    A lawsuit could easily delay the project, and if the city were to lose the case, requiring a new EIR, the council would probably vote to stop the money pit.

    At the very worst, remember that you have all of 2014 to enjoy the mall. That means another Cinco de Mayo, another Fiestas Patrias, another Ice Skating Rink, and maybe another Catacomb party.

    Continue to enjoy the mall, and support the businesses – but make sure to let them know that once construction starts, your business is gone.

    Incidentally, lost in the mall news was the fact that a new coffee shop has opened.

    I took a picture of their sign last December, and it opened  last week: The Little Bean Cafe.

    Not open past 6:30pm, but it’s nice to see something new.

    Important Fulton Mall Dates Coming Up

    Time is running out to help preserve the Fulton Mall.

    Monday is the deadline to send comments to Caltrans for their report on the Fulton Mall project. 

    You can send Caltrans comments until Feb 24 to Kirsten Helton, Department of Transportation, 855 M Street, Suite 200, Fresno, CA 93721.

    More important is February 27, when the council votes.

    Here is the item from the meeting agenda (large PDF) 

    While speaking in person is important, make sure to also contact to council members directly by email.When a public comment at a meeting drags on for hours, as it will, people stop listening. Sending an email means more attention. Click to read more!

    Old Town Clovis Trail Gap to Finally be Closed!

    It’s finally happening!

    The two blocks in Old Town Clovis where the regional bike trail disappears will apparently be completed as soon as this year.

    The next city council agenda has this surprise:

    City staff intends to bid and construct the Clovis Old Town trail connection on the west side of Hughes Avenue from Third to Fifth streets in the 3rd quarter of 2013.
    Council document (PDF)

    The gap is especially notable, because it’s in the heart of Clovis, and there is absolutely no accommodation to direct trail users through the missing area.

    Here’s where the gap is, Clovis Avenue is the large road on the left. The red lines are the existing trails points, where they suddenly end. A parking lot was built on the rail right of way (ROW).

     photo trailclose_zps61aa719b.jpg

    About a year ago, I wrote about this section of the trail. The most unfortunate part is the complete lack of signage and accommodations at the intersections. Car traffic has no idea the trail just pops out there.

    Cyclists must make an awkward turn to find the rest of the trail. They hopefully have seen a map before riding it, so know where to go.

    Going north:

    Going south there are no crosswalks, signs or bike lanes.

    In the post I linked above, you can see some pictures taken from the ground.

    In that post, I proposed an easy fix: using the wide road ROW to make a cycletrack.


    What will they actually build? I don’t know – I put in a request for diagrams but was told they won’t be made public until October. I guess Clovis isn’t a believer in the “public input” side of things. So until October, we won’t know if they’re building an on-street path, a wider sidewalk extended into the road, or a wider sidewalk into the property.

    There is one bit we do know, and it’s good news:

    A request is being put in for a full stop where Hughes meets 4th. Right now, 4th has a stop, but Hughes doesn’t, and there are no crosswalks or curb ramps. The Clovis Veterans Memorial District is specifically asking for a crosswalk and stop sign, and wants to install art along the trail.

    Here’s that intersection today, the trail would be on the left side of the street.

     photo trailclose2_zps61ed5ede.jpg

    Of course I’ll post an update as soon as they release the plans for the trail connection.