Monday, December 14, 2015

Clovis now has an Urban Greening Master Plan

Clovis recently released an an "Urban Greening Master Plan," a new plan which calls for adding more trees, more green infrastructure, and promoting more sustainable transportation.

Now by recently, I do mean July, which is a little embarrassing. Embarrassing, because this is the first I have heard of it. Not only did I miss the release of the final plan, but I also missed the release of the draft, and nine public workshops held in 2014.

Although to be fair to me, a search through Google News reveals zero articles on the subject. Also, the final report shows the first community meeting with a grand total of 28 attendees (13 with white hair), and according to the workshop summaries, the 4th, 5th and 6th workshops had attendances ranging from 1 to 5 people.

The report however, is decent.

You can view the Final Plan (PDF) here.

So what's this plan about?

It builds on the 2010 Parks Master Plan, the 2011 Bicycle Master Plan, a 2012 Urban Forest Master Plan, and various area specific plans, including a 2012 Shaw Corridor Study.

Specifically, it calls upon the many (MANY) benefits of having a healthy urban forest, and of course, doing so in the context of the drought. For Clovis, they focus on reducing ambient air temperatures (via shade), improving air quality, and tying into storm-water management and bike/ped transportation.

 The goals of the plan are to:
  • Educate business 
  • Draw people outside
  • Utilize green infrastructure
  • Promote alternative transportation 
  • Grow the local economy
  • Implement previous recommendations 
  • Maximize partnerships

The plan itself is not amazing, but it does hit on some key points which the city has ignored in the past. One I find particularly important is the need for shade to promote bicycling and walking. The report also talks about how some streets are too wide, and could be made safer by using the extra space for trees.


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Note that while this is simply a concept, it is the first render I've seen coming out of Clovis that features green paint and a buffer for a bicycle lane, something not found at all in the area. 

The plan also talks about specific plant types, especially those that are drought tolerant and suitable for the region. 

Of course, the plan features talk about implementation. Fortunately, Clovis has a good record with implementation of the park and trail plan. What I specifically hope to see is the addition of green infrastructure that also calms traffic. That is, sidewalk extensions at corners with rain gardens. That's a concept foreign in Clovis, but one that is now on the radar thanks to this plan.

What is most likely to happen in the short term is a renewed effort on sustaining a healthy tree canopy in the commercial areas, especially Old Town. The report has the recommendations broken up by goal and time-frame, so they're worth checking out.

An again, speaking on outreach, the plan ends with summaries of the workshops. There were nine workshops, three for each "round". The middle three workshops had an attendance of "approximately 3 persons,"  "5 persons" and "1 member of the public who could only stay for fifteen minutes." Clovis, if you're going to hold public workshops, you need to learn how to actually engage the public, especially if you're going to pay 6 staffers to talk to a single person. Let me guess, there was a single ad placed in a weekday edition of the Fresno Bee?

Friday, December 11, 2015

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.

The main advantage is that if you want to go to the airport, you can skip the masses at the standard border crossing in San Ysidro. This can get very congested, resulting in some very long waits at times. Instead, you are funneled through a customs checkpoint exclusively for airport users. Of course, for people at the standard crossing, every person that opts for this bridge is one less person ahead of them in line, so everybody wins.

The Tijuana airport, the second best connected in Mexico, served nearly 4.4 million passengers last year. More than half of the users of the airport — according to one study, as many as 60 percent — cross to or from California, and CBX’s owners are counting many of them using their facility. Valle hopes the new bridge will entice others to fly out of Tijuana, including non-Latinos interested in flying to different parts of Mexico.

The lack of windows is a shame, but maybe it's a feature to keep people from thinking that they're in an active warzone

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The LA Times has a video in their article - they state the lack of windows is for "security."

Here is where the airport is located in relation to the border and the main border crossing (the star).

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This image from April shows the construction on the US side, which is a massive parking deck, a terminal to get your boarding pass, customs, and a bridge directly into the main airport terminal.

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Why use the Tijuana Airport? Primarily, for flights within Mexico. You'll have access to more Mexican airlines, and thus, more competition, meaning significantly lower pricing than from San Diego, LAX or FAT.

You also get to fly Interjet. I flew them for the first time this past Thanksgiving, and it was a fantastic experience. They're a low cost carrier, but the legroom is enormous...

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And for a 90 minute flight, you get some free goodies

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Much better than what the American companies offer you. 

Another advantage is that the Tijuana Airport has no noise restrictions, unlike the San Diego one. That means it allows bigger planes. There is currently a flight to Shanghai, and it's possible more flights to Asia or Europe could exist in the future if use of the airport becomes more popular by people in the region. Also, as popularity increases, the airport could grow, something the San Diego airport cannot do, as it has no room to expand.

Because this project was financed privately (and cost $120m), to use it you're required to pay an $18 toll. That's reasonable considering the time saving and convenience, but obviously should be considered when shopping for deals.

I'm curious as to what the bus companies will do. Right now, there's an extensive network of buses that extends as far north as Washington. They serve the entire western corridor and their primary destination is mostly the Tijuana airport. Various buses stop in Fresno, and also smaller cities like Madera and Fresno.

The companies include Intercalifornias, Fronteras del Norte, and Tres Estrellas.

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If you've never heard of them, it's because they have a limited online presence. They conduct most business the old school way - cash for paper tickets.

I wonder if they'll serve the new access point as a way to save them the headache of crossing the border.

Anyway, in the era of infrastructure projects that can't get off the ground, and hysteria about the border, it's good to see a functional, common-sense project open.