Documenter: Heather Halsey Martinez

The Scene

The Fresno Planning Commission meeting took place on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. The agenda states that due to the COVID-19 state of emergency, all City of Fresno public meetings are held via Zoom or phone and the council chambers are closed to the public. Meetings are also viewable on the City of Fresno’s YouTube channel. 

The commission is an advisory committee, consisting of seven members appointed by the Mayor and City Council. The commission recommends actions on various planning issues, such as plan amendments, rezones and appeals for development permits or conditional use permits. Commission meetings are usually on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. 

Raj Sodhi-Layne resigned from the commission on Jan. 1, 2021, creating a vacant vice chair position. Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer took office in January 2021 and he will appoint a Fresno resident to fill the vacant seat on the committee. 

Names of officials:

Kathy Bray, Chairperson (also owner of Denham Resources)

Vacant, Vice Chair

David Criner, Commissioner (also pastor at Saint Rest Baptist Church)

Debra McKenzie, Commissioner (also Director of Administration for Central California Legal Services)

Peter Vang, Commissioner (also Associate at Thiesen Dueker Financial Consulting Group)

Brad Hardie, Commissioner (also President of Regency Property Management)

Monica Diaz, Commissioner

The meeting opened quickly with the Pledge of Allegiance, during which an image of an American flag was shown on screen. From there, the meeting was open for public comments and no one made comments. 


  • Bray made a motion to nominate Hardie as vice chair and all other commissioners agreed. Hardie did not have his video on and was on mute at the time. At the end of the meeting, Bray told him they had elected him as vice chair, to which he said, “Oh great, thank you.” Former Mayor Lee Brand nominated Hardie to the commission in April 2018. 

  • Approved unanimously amendments to the Active Transportation Plan (ATP), Fulton Corridor Specific Plan, Tower District Specific Plan and Downtown Neighborhoods Community Plan to reclassify 13 planned bikeways spanning 16.6 miles within the City of Fresno in order to qualify for grant funds to improve those segments. Drew, supervising planner, presented recommendations for approval to the commission. 

    • Nine of the proposed changes are upgrades from Class II designated on-street bicycle lanes to Class IV separated on-street bicycle lanes that are physically separated from motor vehicle traffic by a minimum three-foot buffer. 

    • One of the proposed reclassifications is from a Class IV to Class II on Van Ness Boulevard from Tulare to Mono Streets in Downtown Fresno. The reason is that Van Ness Boulevard has many existing constraints and does not have the roadway width to make the Class IV improvements feasible. 

    • Three segments included in the ATP will be classified since they have not been previously identified. 

    • Jill Gormley, traffic planning and operations manager, 

    • Diaz asked why the particular streets chosen were selected. Jill Gromley, traffic engineering manager, said that they have been looking for corridors suitable for Class IV lanes and already have funding for them. 

    • Hardie asked if they had subgroups help create the plans. Gromley said back in 2017 when they developed the ATP, they did have council meetings and advisory group input. 

    • Diaz asked about Chinatown and why it isn’t included in the project. “I’m thinking Chinatown would be wonderful and a great benefit to Chinatown,” she said. Gormley said there is a lot of bicycle and pedestrian planning happening in Chinatown due to the High Speed Rail. “These are projects that we have the grant funding ready to go or we actually already have received it and we’re just trying to reconcile those projects and the maps to make them match each other,” she said.  

    • Fresno resident, Sally Lewis, spoke in opposition of the amendments. She said she lives in the neighborhood between Palm Avenue and Van Ness Boulevard and asked about the bike lane that is on Van Ness and going under the overpass and why they aren’t extending that. “Why are you doing this to our neighborhood?” she said. She said she was concerned about the traffic on Palm Avenue and that there are areas where it, “doesn’t make sense.” 

      • Lewis also asked what specifically the grant money was intended for. Gormley said the grant application they submitted was specifically for active transportation projects, which include bike and pedestrian walking projects and was specific to constructing Class IV bikeways along Palm and Belmont Avenues. “Where there will be a little bit of a delay, it won’t be something that is overly burdened on vehicle traffic,” she said. “You may have to wait a little bit longer, but it didn’t fall below levels that we thought would impact traffic to a degree not going forward with the project.” 

  • Continued to March 17, a hearing to consider development permit revised application for property located at 3611 South Northpointe Drive, on a parcel west of the corner of South Northpointe Drive and East Prime Avenue.

In closing, secretary Jennifer Clark reminded the council to please respond to an invitation to attend the League of California Cities Planning Commissioners Academy via Zoom. Bray said it was helpful to her in the past and would encourage others to attend. 

The meeting adjourned at 6:28 p.m. Future meetings are scheduled for March 17, April 7 and April 21. 


  • Commissioner Hardie will fill the vacant vice chair position left when Sodhi-Layne resigned in January. There was no mention of who Mayor Dyer would appoint to the open commissioner position. 

  • The commission approved amendments that will allow for 16.6 miles of separated bikeways that will run in stretches throughout Downtown, the Tower District and along Palm Avenue. 

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