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.
So be brief, and use good point!
Remember to target your comments to the council members. For example, it's probable that Brand and Brandau don't care at all about park space, art, or history. So there's no reason to send them a letter addressing those subjects. Instead, focus on the financial risk of the project to the city.
Brand has attempted to portray himself as "Mr. Money Guy" while Brandau governs as "Mr. Tea Party." That means pointing out that the fed grant won't cover all the costs, especially the overruns. This is even more true in an older area, where there are likely old pipes, wires, and gas lines under the mall that aren't on any map. Whenever an old street gets dug up, the crews ALWAYS encounter these problems, resulting in lengthy delays. That means the city is on the hook for cash.
Or point out how flimsy the EIR and economic report are. A bad EIR means the city can and will be dragged through the court system. Aside from legal fees, lengthy delays mean forfeiting the fed grant.
For example, the EIR claims that there will be no traffic increase, and thus, no mitigation required.
The circular logic is astounding:
Project will create high economic impact -> more shoppers, more workers, more people
More people = more cars right?
Nope, according to the EIR, because any economic impact is speculative, then there will be no additional traffic.
So they're saying approve the project for its economic impact, which is guaranteed.....but no mitigation is needed because economic impact is not guaranteed.
So ask your council member who is right. The EIR that says there will be no economic boost, or the project backers that say there will be?
The EIR response to comments also stated that increase in vehicle/pedestrian injuries is speculative, and doesn't have to be addressed - but the cost-benefit analysis notes a significant increase in collisions. Makes sense right? When you turn a ped-only street into a 30mph road, you create more conflict.
Oh, and theres the bit about the EIR claiming the mall doesn't act as a park, so no open space mitigation is needed.
Playgrounds, benches, gazebos, trees, bikes, peds, fountains, art.....nope not a park?
You can also talk to them about how there's no real proof the project will revitalize anything at all. $20 million is quite the gamble, and if it doesn't work, Fresno has nothing to show for it. While the mall didn't revitalize downtown when built, at least an attractive space was created, which has been well used for events and such.
You can also talk about a potential civil rights lawsuit. Right now, most of the business on the mall is minority-operated and visited. If the project puts them all out of business, that's a serious issue.
Another angle is the claim that changing the mall into a road will cause the office space to be suddenly popular. But that assumes the only barrier to use is the road.
LA has many wonderful historical buildings on very busy streets....that are vacant from floor 2 up. Why? Most old buildings have obsolete layouts for modern needs. Adding a few street parking spaces doesn't change the design of the interior.
The report states that:
"As the downtown area has the second lowest office vacancy rate in the Fresno region, it seems that the project study area’s high vacancy rate is not attributable to its location and is due to other conditions"
I agree. Such as the fact that the oldest buildings are there, and will require millions in internal improvements to be attractive.
Or just bitch about how you don't want your tax money being spent for anything.
The point is, make sure your voice is heard.