Friday, September 30, 2011

Chaffee Zoo construction pictures

I visited Chaffee Zoo last week, and took a few pictures of the construction of the "Sea Lion Cove" project.

While I am against the expansion of the zoo (and enormous parking lot) into public areas of Roeding Park, I have no problem with expanding exhibits in existing zoo property, or property being used for non-park purposes (asphalt).

The size of the construction project surprised me.

So here are a few pictures of the dirt being moved.






Bonus: Hungry bear

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Council shouldn't let political games get in the way of common sense approval

According to the Fresno Bee, what should be a routine approval from the City Council this week has become a "battle".

I'm talking about one of the three projects I highlighted earlier this week, the restoration of Hotel Fresno.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and City Council President Lee Brand are headed for a fight over the fate of the nearly century-old Hotel Fresno building.

She wants to spend taxpayer money on what she calls a risk-free project that will spark downtown.

He thinks she is pushing taxpayers into a disaster.

Swearengin's administration on Thursday will ask the City Council to approve a loan of nearly $860,000 in City Hall-controlled federal housing money to help jump-start the rehabilitation of the Hotel Fresno.

Fresno Bee

Here's the deal. Councillor Brand is apparently concerned about a series of ill-advised loans the city made over the last decade. The Met Museum. Granite Park. Chukchansi Park. The list goes on. Basically, the city put up money to help a private developer or organization launch a big project...and then the project failed, putting the city on the hook for the loan payments.

Brand said the Hotel Fresno loan documents are based on faulty revenue and cost estimates, which almost inevitably will lead to a failed project. He said it makes no difference that the city's shrinking general fund, which goes largely to public safety, is not on the hook.

So is concern warranted? Sure. We don't want that to happen again.

But that's not what the council will be voting on.

The council will not be voting to put up a loan from Fresno money.

The final piece in the $16.5 million package is about $860,000 in federal housing funds, Swearengin said. She said this money can be used only for affordable housing. If the city doesn't commit the money by the end of September, it must be returned to the federal government.

That is, the council is being asked to take $860,000 in FEDERAL money, that has been specifically set aside for affordable housing projects. That's what the money is for, and can't be used for anything else.

And there's more

Swearengin said the city's money won't be spent until the developers have secured the HUD loan and their money is in the bank. If the developers fail in any of these steps, she said, the city gets its $860,000 back.

There doesn't appear to be any kind of risk.

On top of that, as I mentioned a few days ago, there is one other brand new residential project where the same pot of money is being requested from. Apparently, there are no concerns about that project.

What's the difference? One is new construction for seniors, while the other is a high profile renovation.

City Council President Lee Brand is playing this for the politics and nothing more. That's not just foolish, but reckless. Downtown needs all the help it can get, and turning away federal money to make a political point is not what Fresno needs.

I hope the rest of the council sees past these games and approves the request.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Air Pollution Control District should be given power to act

Last week, the San Joaquin Valley was hit with a $29m fine because an air monitor in Clovis passed a federal threshold for the 4th time.

It pushed Clovis over the federal limit for one-hour ozone violations in a three-year period. In 2010, Clovis had three similar violations for one-hour readings – which are the highest daily readings at each monitor.
Fresno Bee

Now every motorist in the Valley will have to pay an extra $12 on their vehicle registration to help pay the fine. Early this year, local lawmakers decided that the penalty should be paid for by motorists, and not industry.

The fine is supposed to be the stick that will motive that valley to clean up its act when it comes to ground level ozone pollution. The money from the penalty will be used to help decrease local pollution by buying cleaner school buses, subsidizing purchases of clean farm equipment, etc.

The problem is, the local population is too far removed from this penalty for it to be of any real purpose.

And the current strategy of getting residents to comply with measures that would have avoided the penalty are ridiculously weak

Officials there are pleading with the public to refrain from any activity that would create pollution over the next few days. That includes running your lawnmower, idling your car through drive-thrus, and unnecessary driving during the afternoon hours.

"So if folks out there have errands they were going to run this afternoon, run them on Saturday, run them on Sunday. Push them off till the weekend, wait until the temperatures cool off a little bit," said Holt.

Right, because some official issuing a press release is really going to change behavior. I'd give $10 to meet a single person who read the warning and decided to not drive that day.

"What, I didn't even know about that," said Clovis resident Holly Rollis. Many Clovis residents were unaware that their area could push the Valley over the limit when it comes to meeting federal air quality standards.

The fact is, only people who read the newspaper are aware of this issue, and how many of those readers will be bothered to take any action?

This is especially stupid because we have one agency begging people to drive less, and not use drive-thrus, but then we have other sides of government approving new highways, wider roads, and more fringe development. Does every bank, fast food chain and pharmacy need not one, but two drive-thru lanes? Build them and people will use them. Asking people to refrain from using the drive-thrus that are the prominent feature of many news retail developments simply does not work.

Something as critical as dangerous pollutions levels should not be left to volunteer efforts. It's time the Air Pollution Control District is given the tools needed to make the short-term changes that can decrease pollution on those key days.

Some cities like Sao Paulo and Mexico City have a program called "do not circulate" in which motorists with a license plate ending in a certain digit are not allowed to drive on specific days of the week. This is similar to how watering days are set based on your house number (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday for example).

Such a harsh measure is not needed here, but there are many steps that can be taken to make sure the valley doesn't exceed the standard.

For example, instead of issuing a "volunteer action alert" take the following steps on days and hours in which a violation may occur:

----Mandate that all drive-thrus* must be closed from 2pm-7pm on high risk days. The establishment can still open, but patrons must park and walk in if they want their meal to-go.
*Exceptions could be allowed for stands (like the coffee ones) which ONLY offer a drive-thru option.
----Put a $1 surcharge on drive-thru bills every other day of the year. Call it a "pollution convenience tax". This will educate people that their convenience is having real negative effects on other people. Many will choose to save $1 by parking and walking inside.
----Ban lawn work on high risk days, unless the gardeners are using electric equipment. This will give an incentive to purchase cleaner equipment so that they can work every day.
----Institute electronic tolling for trucks on 99 that varies with air quality. For example, on a day with 110f temperatures, between 3pm and 7pm, trucks are charged $20. But after 7pm, they only get charges $10. This encourages them to plan their trip during the "safer" hours for air quality. The tolls would vary every 15 minutes as needed to encourage trucks to pull over, turn off their engine and have dinner. Tolls on clean days can be $1, simply to help pay for highway maintenance.
----Ticket idling vehicles waiting for their children after schools. They can park and wait, but the engine must be off.

There are many other measures that can be taken to actually affect behavior.

Of course, some crowds will immediately respond with the "get government out of my freedom to idle!." These people are incredibly selfish, and do not understand that we have set up government to regulate activities which are harmful to others. Your 6 minutes at the drive-thru may be the reason an old lady has to stay home all day using her asthma medication. When your freedom to be lazy takes away the freedom for someone to breathe, we have a problem.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Council approval could lead to more housing downtown

The September 29th agenda for the Fresno City Council meeting has a few interesting lines about potential upcoming projects. I say potential, because we all know that even approval and loan guarantees don't necessarily mean the project is seen to completion.

Nonetheless, they are exciting proposals, and if all are completed, downtown will get just a little bit more pleasant. The first project began planning a year or so ago, and the other two have been in the works for much longer (2007 and 2005).

The first I would like to note is a proposed project by GVUrban, the people behind recent downtown projects I highlighted last week.

This new project, on L Street and San Joaquin, will be similar to the Van Ness Cottages. They are proposing 2 story town-homes on an underutilized lot.

Units: 28
Density: 21.71 units per acre



Current structures:


As the project requires demolition of what may or may not be considered "historic" homes, the approval process is ongoing. Any demolition and construction, if approved, should begin next year if GVUrban is satisfied with sales at their Fulton Village property, which should open in a month. Assuming all goes well with Fulton Village and the Van Ness Cottages, we may see this open for business in 2013.

The second is an exciting proposal to reuse what is currently a significant abandoned building. This project is being worked on by the same people currently fixing the Mayflower building into lofts, and fixed the Hotel Virginia a few years ago, so they have a proven record here in Fresno.

The council is being asked (pdf) to approve an $859,868 long-term loan. The total cost of the project is $16.5 million of which $11m are expected from HUD.

The project I am talking about is rehabbing the Hotel Fresno (built in 1913) into a 72 unit apartment building: 6 affordable units, 19 moderate income, 47 market rate and ground-floor retail. The rehab will include making the exterior and lobby look as it did when new, but modernize the rest of the interior. This team began the project in 2007, when they purchased the building, and it looks like the market may now be ready for the serious renovation to begin.


One unfortunate aspect about the location is that the construction in 2005 of the federal courthouse destroyed the street grid, leaving the main entrance of the building in an odd dead-end block.


The rear. What used to be a street is visible.


The side, front, and the dead-end street.



I hope these developers are able to make this a successful project. It will be great to see not only such a large, old building come back to life, but also have a modern (non-government) residential tower in Fresno.

The third project is not in the downtown core, but part of the downtown region, on Ventura street east of 41. It is called the Allied Plaza Senior Apartments

This project requires an $818,034 loan, and will be a 52 unit affordable senior housing facility. This project began planning in 2005. Details can be found here


The property was occupied by an eyesore.


Seriously, who builds this?


The project area has since been cleared.


The project will consist of 2-story structures with central surface parking lots. The amount of parking shown in the diagram is unfortunate, but it is certainly an improvement of what was there before, and is denser than the surrounding neighborhood. The main building will front Ventura, but parking will be visible from 7th and 8th.


I hope the council continues to support these project, and the developers behind them keep moving forward.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Visalia gets GPS tracking on buses, how about FAX?

GPS tracking on buses hit the scene a few years ago in America in major cities like San Francisco and DC, courtesy of a company called Nextbus. The technology had already been wildly deployed in Europe for many years.

Now Visalia has joined the party, but Fresno, with the largest bus agency in the central valley, hasn't given its customers the tools they need to have a better bus experience.

So why is GPS tracking important for riders? In cities like Fresno, where buses are infrequent at best (the two most popular bus lines have the best service at a bus every 20 minutes), missing a bus can lead to a very long wait. Some buses come just once an hour, and missing the bus can mean losing a job. This means passengers must arrive extra early and waste their time with no idea of where the bus is, when it is coming, and if the journey will be completed on time.

This is especially problematic in the valley, where daytime temperatures can reach 110 the shade. Most bus stops lack benches or shade canopies.

GPS tracking lets riders find out exactly where the bus is, and how long it will take to arrive. This means the passenger can run if they are late, or relax in an air conditioned space if they know the bus is still 15 minutes away. As I pointed out a few months ago, the Fresno bus schedules have very few time-points, so stops between these points can have arrival times that vary greatly.

The tracking is also good for the agency. More information leads to more accurate schedules and better dispatching.

So how does it work?

Now a new alert system in Visalia is helping passengers know exactly where their bus is and what time it will arrive at their bus stop.

The program allows people to receive an alert on their computer or smart phone when their bus is 5, 15 or even 30 minutes away. The alerts are based on real time information, not when the bus is scheduled to arrive.

In addition to the new alert system, people can also depend on electronic signs at each bus stop telling people, in real time, how far away their bus is, or find the latest information by calling a toll-free number.

I'm not sure if Visalia is using Nextbus, but in other cities, riders have many options.

-Those with access to a computer can visit the website
-Those with smartphones can download an app, featuring countdowns and maps.
-Those without smartphones can text and receive a free reply stating how long until the bus will arrive.
-Those without texting, or without a mobile phone, can call a toll free number to get an automated message listing the next bus arrival.

And finally, as the article points out, the agency can install screens at the bus stop counting down to the next arrival. This completely lifts the burden of technology from the rider, as the information is broadcast free for all.

An example of a bus stop with countdown timers is seen here in New York City:

The news article quoted above also dives into the topic of choice riders

Cox says riding the bus isn't just for people who don't have access to a car.

"These we call our choice riders, where people who are actually choosing to ride the bus, and we think we're attracting them more by offering them more options of how to get the information," Cox said.

While Visalia is using technology to try and make riding the bus attractive for those with cars, it is unnecessary to focus on this market. The truth is, anyone who can afford a car in a city like Visalia will prefer to drive rather than ride the bus because of the way the city is designed, and the infrequent schedule of the bus. Unless the bus system offered free prizes every day, these choice riders will not choose the bus. Besides free prizes, if the system were to provide 24 hour service at 5 minute intervals, to match the convenience of a private auto, ridership might rise.

However, just because one cannot afford to, or is not physically able to drive a car, and is a transit rider by necessity, doesn't mean they should deal with a bad system.

Making the lives of transit riders better is always a good goal. And while someone who is commuting to a minimum wage job may be able to afford a 30 minute wait, in a regional economic sense (it's just $5 of his time!) that doesn't mean his quality of life can't be drastically improved by handing over so much time to this person every day.

Having someone sit at a bus stop for 50 minutes is not productive for anyone.

One other thing of note is that the Visalia website has something the Fresno FAX website so sorely lacks....accurate maps of the bus system. And their map includes real time location of buses.

Riders can pick which routes they want to see, and get accurate maps of where the bus goes.


Riders can then click on stops to get real-time info on bus arrivals (because I accessed the website when no service was running, I was presented with scheduled arrivals instead)


Available at:

So come on FAX, get with the times, and join the technology age. It's sort of sad to see these smaller transit agencies get technology Fresno so badly needs while riders here are stuck waiting with no information to help them.

A tracking system isn't free, as according to the Visalia Times it cost $600,000 to deploy. But that's actually not expensive. Assuming the service life of the system is 15 years, that's just $40,000 a year. Let's say the average transit rider makes $10 an hour. As long as the system helps riders save a cumulative 4,000 hours a year they would have wasted sitting on a bench, then Visalia has come out ahead. That's an extremely manageable number to reach.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quick look at apartment construction in downtown Fresno

I was downtown a couple of days ago and stopped by the two Granville (GVurban) construction projects. For those of you outside of Fresno, these small projects are significant because downtown saw no residential construction for a 25 year period ending a few years ago. Since then, there has been some slow progress on new housing downtown, even during the recession.

These projects may be small, but they're better than the empty lots they are replacing, and they bring new hope of redevelopment in the urban core.

Here are the two sites I visited:


Fulton Village is in red, and the Van Ness Cottages are in blue.

The first is Fulton Village. This project seems to be a couple of months behind schedule, but has entered the final stretch of building.







And here are the cottages.




And now some bonus shots!

Abandoned bank (I think) on Fulton Mall

Bankers Ballroom, on Fulton Mall

Monday, September 19, 2011

Expo line delays should not be tolerated

In Los Angeles, the Exposition light rail line has been under construction since mid-2006, with planning starting well before that. After countless delays, word is coming in that the start date of service will once again miss the plan, this time slipping well into 2012, almost 2 years late. And this time, it's managerial incompetence that fueling the next delay in service.

Too many delays

Like all major projects, there have been delays and cost overruns. Some nature of delay should always be expected; when a project is so large and complicated, a small delay in the early stages can quickly affect delivery dates later in the project. Some delays cannot be avoided, such as unexpected weather events, civil disturbances (strikes for example) and even unexpected shortages in material.

But aside from "acts of God" and similar events, delays really shouldn't be tolerated. When a project is put out to bid, the contractor is promising a specific price and a specific delivery date. They must be held accountable to those promises, because any leniency simply results in future bids being "overly optimistic" (also known as lying). This punishes the honest and competent contractor, and awards the one who was willing to take the most liberties with their promises.

The Expo line has hit a series of delays. Metro blames some of them on unexpected problems like lawsuits from NIMBYs and false concerns over safety of the line. But really, how unexpected is a lawsuit? Every project on earth has a NIMBY movement, and they usually end up in court. To express surprise at such a delay is either gross incompetence or a plain lie.

Transit authorities are experts at padding schedules to account for unexpected delays. Wouldn't it make sense to add such padding to the construction timeline? Why make promises you know you can't keep? It screws you over next time you come around asking for support.

But that's not all. The contractor has been late, and late again with their deliveries, but instead of suing them out of existence, Metro has nodded their head and handed over more money as needed. That's not right, and should not be tolerated.

Earlier this year, the expectation was that the contractor would finish up work around April, hand over the project, and Metro could start running service in August, just in time for class at USC...and only 14 months late.

Then this summer, when Metro released their annual financial plan, there was a little surprise inside. The financials stated that service would begin November 15. The natural response to this was that metro was just being cautious, and service would surly begin in September. The November date was just a placeholder.

But then that final delivery from the contractor kept slipping in May, then June, then July...and well, we're in September now.

And the serious testing (prerevenue service) hasn't even started yet.

Delaying launch to avoid ridership?

And now rumors are running around that Metro may be able to hit the November 15 start date....but they're choosing not to.

That's right, after over a year of contractor delays, now it's the operating agency wanting to hold service. And shockingly, the reason seems to be that they don't want to launch when the service would be wildly used.

I'm not even kidding. Metro is looking to avoid ridership by delaying service until March of 2012.

Expo line will serve USC and Exposition Park. Indeed, for phase 1, USC will be the primary driver of ridership, as staff, students and faculty use the service to reach campus and downtown. While the other stops will attract riders, the line will not have any other major draws until Phase 2 reaches Santa Monica and the full potential of the line is available for commuters.

Besides students and staff, USC is a huge draw due to the location of the Coliseum and the massive popularity of Trojan football. Tens of thousands of fans make their way to the stadium on weekends to see college football.

And apparently, that's the problem. Instead of wanting to take advantage of this huge ridership potential, and simultaneously help clear the clogged streets of congestion, word is that Metro wants to avoid football season.

A transit agency wanting to not run because people might chose to ride their trains instead of drive?

That's mind-boggling incompetency, and should not be tolerated by the Los Angeles taxpayer.

One of the reasons given to avoid football season is "safety". People might get confused about those newfangled trains running on those shiny new tracks. That excuse might have flown in 1990, when Los Angeles had zero light rail lines, but now the region is well accustomed to trains running along streets. And while college students might indeed be a little drunk before the game, a rational solution would be to run trains at slower speeds in the stadium area, instead of not running them at all. It's especially important to note that there is no concern over the 45mph car traffic on neighboring streets. But a 15mph train? Why, that's just trouble!

But even that logic is hollow. Will USC fans not be impaired in 2012, 2013 and beyond? Metro might claim that "students learn", but do they not realize that 1/4 of the student population is brand new every September?

Of course, this also ignores every man, woman and business who chose to believe Metro and make plans around service. Any student who left their car at home because Expo was coming is probably hitting himself for not buying a parking pass. And business who opened, planning on selling coffee or wares to commuters gets to continue to look at an unused rail line. Anyone who took a job along the line, knowing they'd be able to reach it by train is left out in the cold, relying on bus service that keeps getting cut. The fact is, metro provides transportation, and nothing is more important to a city than dependable transportation.

The taxpayer should not accept delays by the private sector, and we should hold them accountable for not meeting their targets. And likewise, we must hold the public sector accountable for the delays they have caused. In Massachusetts, a recently announced delay to a light rail line has been met with outrage, and the word "lawsuit" is being brought up. Quickly, the governor is scrambling to mitigate the delay before the lawsuits pour in.

I think the same approach should be taken in LA. Don't sue to delay a project (NIMBY-style), but sue when incompetence, negligence and bad management result in delays with real world effects on business, transportation and congestion. Metro should be forced to open ASAP, and not be allowed to keep playing with dates.

Mind you, I'm not saying that a lawsuit should be the first step. The first step would be to hold a conversation with the agency and make it clear that enough is enough.

Only if the agency ignores those concerns, should a lawsuit be used. Hopefully, the threat of one is enough to wake up the agency.

We're talking about a transit system here, not a ride at Disney, and I don't think the officials making the decisions understand that.

So enough with the expo delays. Start pre-revenue testing ASAP and get riders on board as soon as the feds agree that the line has been tested enough and is safe. Holding out for a few extra months, just because, is not right.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Please do not cross at trail crossing

A few days ago I wrote about a bike/ped trail I "discovered" in north Fresno.

As you can see in that post, I detailed how the city was apparently unaware of the trail that had been in place for over a decade. The trail does not appear in maps, and doesn't seem to have a name.

Well, upon closer examination, it appears that the city is aware of the trail, but not in the way we would hope.

Let's look at where the trail crosses 1st St.


Simple enough crossing. Two lanes each way (+bike lanes) with a safe median to stop. Speed limit is 40, like most streets in Fresno.


Path was designed well, with separate curb cuts for each direction of bike traffic. Arrows too.


The median was designed for crossing and waiting.


But wait, what's that...?

The city DOES know they've built a bike path. They know because they've taken the time and effort to erect a sign that limits the usability of their path.



You know what else could have been done with two poles and two signs? In fact, using poles in the exact same position, but simply rotated 90 degrees? I'd say the city knows, because they've done it on a path they're proud about. Same road design, same median design and everything.


So why go "all out" on the Sugar-Pine trail, and paint a crosswalk and everything, but on the "secret" trail, take the infrastructure you've built....and ban the use of it?

Why is a 5 minute (+ wait time at light) detour ok for pedestrians....


But those in cars aren't expected to have to go to the light, as a convenient turn bay is provided?


Doesn't make sense.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More on Broadway redesign (Fresno)

Last week I mentioned that the city will be holding a meeting on Thursday to discuss major changes on Broadway, downtown.

Edit: Just been told the newsletter had the wrong day. The meeting was held yesterday.

As I will not be able to attend, I emailed the city, and they were kind enough to send along a diagram of the proposed changes.

I was correct that the project will end at Divisadero, so the project length is indeed the following.

I was wrong about what I guessed the layout would be. I had guessed it would be angled parking on one side, and parallel parking on the other. Instead, the city is proposing to make parking angled on both sides.


One concern this brings up is that the proposed bike lanes on Broadway no longer fit with angled parking on each side.

The travel lane will be 13.5 feet each way, which is not enough to fit both a car and a bike at the same time.

I was correct in assuming they would propose angled parking in which you drive into. I have emailed the city to let them know they should consider back-in parking, which is safer.

I also hope the city reconsiders having angled parking on both sides and returns to the bike plan.

The diagram shows a width of 60 feet +/- a foot or so.
Currently, the street is designed like this (guesstimate):

10.5 + 10.5 + 10.5 = 31.5 in three travel lanes (two south, one north)
10.5 = center turning lane
9 + 9 = 18 for parking lanes
For a total of 60.

(parking is not separated with a line, so in reality it's a 19.5-20 foot travel lane that allows parking)

The proposal wants to change that to be:

13.5 + 13.5 = 27 Travel lanes
17 + 17 = 34 Parking lanes
For a total of 61.

This design wastes space. A travel lane needs only to be 10 feet wide, but the angled parking requires that extra buffer....which isnt enough for a bike lane. So each direction will have 3.5 feet in wasted space. It will also make riding a bike more dangerous, because both cyclists and motorists may perceive the lane as wide enough to share, when it will not be.

I would change it to the following:

10.5 + 10.5 = 21 for travel lanes
17 = Angled parking southbound + 8.5 = Parallel parking northbound = 25.5 for parking

That uses up 46.5 feet.
That leaves 13.5 feet available.

That's easy to divide.

Add a 6 foot bike lane on the southbound side, plus a 1.5 foot buffer for the angled parking for 7.5 feet of bike/buffer lane.

That leaves 6 feet for a bike lane next to the parallel parking on the northbound side, for a total use of 60 feet.


Ok, my paint job isn't to scale, but the numbers add up to 60 right? That's all that matters.

Also not shown is my preferred back-in parking, just switch the direction of the parking lines. That doesnt add or reduce the required space.

Some of my other concerns were addressed with the plan they sent me. I want crosswalks on every street, and the redesign moves towards that, but isn't perfect. Amador goes from zero to 4 marked crosswalks for example. Sacramento also gets four, up from two. In fact four crosswalks are added to every intersection except San Joaquin. I hope they reconsider and also give it the full treatment. On the north end, I'd like to see a crosswalk to N Yosemite, which is part of a natural walking pattern (see picture below).

Here are the images they sent. Its' interesting that they used a satellite image that's almost a decade old. Lots has changed in the area since then.

Note: North is to the LEFT.

Here is the north end of the project. That odd curving street no longer exists. The new curb extensions are visible.


A crosswalk should be added so a pedestrian can take the natural yellow route comfortably, and not the longer red route.


Further down we get where the lofts are. The residents will enjoy the new curb extensions and the added guest parking.


As we move along, we pass the Rainbow Ballroom (far right in above image). No angled parking in front because the concert tour trucks need the curb space.

However, we do have an opportunity here. Angled parking extends out 17 feet, while the largest of tour buses, parked parallel to the curb, needs only 12 feet. That leaves us with 5 extra feet. How about widening the sidewalk so that the concert crowds have more room to breathe? Currently, the line to get in takes up the entire sidewalk, and at the end of the event, people are pushed into the road.

Here I show the Rainbow Ballroom in a lovely rainbow color (it's actually not a gay club though). I've turned the parking to be the back-in kind (the northbound parking would be the parallel type under my proposal, not shown). I've expanded the sidewalk by 5 feet (cream color), and I've left space along the curb for loading/unloading of buses while preserving the full lane and proposed bike lane (green curb painting).


On this next image, I'm interested in the "future development" marked in green. What makes this parcel more likely for development than the rest?

San Joaquin street should have 4 crosswalks.


As we reach the end of the project we note that various useless curb cuts (driveways) will be removed, creating a smoother walking experience.


Overall, I think this is a good project, and should make Broadway better for drivers and pedestrians. That being said, it's not perfect, and I think the city can add bike lanes while still increasing the amount of street parking and lowering crossing distances for pedestrians.

That concludes the project tour. These are the questions I emailed the project team but have yet to hear a reply. If anyone reading this blog attends the meeting tomorrow, I would like to know if any of these thoughts were addressed.

A few of them I mentioned above. These are the questions I sent the city:

-Has the city looked into using angled parking in which drivers back into the spots? This is safer because when leaving, the driver is not blindly backing up into traffic (if there is a larger vehicle next to them) but is positioned where they can easily see the street. Back-in parking is becoming popular on the east coast do to the safety benefits it provides, although it does have a small learning curve.

-San Jose/Broadway should have crosswalks on all 4 legs.

-I'd like to see a crosswalk across Broadway at El Dorado/Yosemite street, for easier access to Divisadero from the west side of Broadway.

-I wonder if the angled parking will be metered or time restricted (or both)

And finally, is construction scheduled for this year or 2012?