Documenter: Loren Friesen

The Scene 

After a bit of static and muffled questions the opening title card on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors’ streaming site transitioned to Chairman Brandau starting the meeting. The meeting started at 10:02 AM. There were about 15 people in the audience, shown by one of the 3 cameras broadcasting the meeting. The chief probation officer, a Mount Pleasant Baptist Church member, gave the invocation.

Below are listed the members of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors. Present are in bold: 

Steve Brandau – District 2 – Chairman (North Fresno)

Brian Pacheco – District 1 – Vice Chairman west, rural like Kerman, Firebaugh)

Sal Quintero – District 3 (Central Fresno) (over the phone)

Buddy Mendes – District 4 (rural towns like Reedley, Sanger, Fowler, Kingsburg)

Nathan Magsis – District 5 (eastern, rural, mountains)


As stated on their website, Fresno County’s goal, in sum, is to provide excellent public services to our diverse community. Specifically the County is “defined and authorized under the California Constitution, law, and the Charter of the  County of Fresno, and provides countywide services, including elections, voter registration, law enforcements, jails, vital records, property records, tax collection, public health and social services.  In addition the County serves as the local government for all unincorporated areas.“


The supervisors approved the agenda with a 5-0 vote.

The supervisors approved the consent agenda – no items were pulled by any supervisor or public member – with a 5-0 vote.

After a brief presentation the board approved a proclamation to make April 2021 Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month with a 5-0 vote.

After a length conversation with state lobbyists, the board approved a motion, with a 5-0 vote, that added formal language to the Fresno County State Legislative Platform that:

Opposes SB 467, on the ground that it doesn’t support the oil and gas industry

Opposes AB 559, on the grounds that it allows nonlocals to be on the board for the San Joaquin River Conservancy 

Supports AB 1078, on the grounds of wanting to give less construction mandates for those rebuilding their homes in areas devastated by the Creek Fire

The board approved the proposed schedule for the 2021-22 recommended budget with a 5-0 vote. A public member brought to the board’s attention that she, a black business owner, was unable to access CARES and other Covid-19 related grant funds, reported in the budget, due to discrimination.

The board approved the partial cancellation of agricultural land conservation contract no 5705 with a 5-0 vote. There were no comments or discussions. 

The board approved an amendment to the 2020-21 Annual Action Plan with a 4-0 vote. Supervisor Quintero was absent.

The board approved the resolution that accepts the 2020 General Plan Annual Progress Report with a 5-0 vote. Before the vote, one public member, claiming to speak as a representative to the general public, said that approving the plan will deeply hurt the public’s perception to the Board if the Report doesn’t include an analysis to how close the county’s Plan is aligned with state guidelines. 

The board approved board appointments (only one from Supervisor Magsig) with a 5-0 vote. 


Regarding item 3, Micheal Zapata was recognized by his colleague for his service in the Department of Assessor-Recorder, touted as a good listener and someone who cultivated teamwork. Zapata read a statement thanking several departments he’s worked with and specified the background on personal property tax laws.

Chief Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau thanked Zapata and mentioned Amazon being the highest personal property payer. 

Chairman Brandau thanked Zapata and said it’s always a hit to lose someone who’s been working in the county for 20 years. He invited Zapata and his family for a photo opportunity with the board. 

Regarding item 4,

Trisica Gonzales of the Department of Social Services presented a video powerpoint that narrated the goals and strategy of the department in combatting child abuse in the county. The main strategy is using the 11 Neighborhood Resource Centers (NRCs) in the county. The most needed services in the last year have been basic needs, form assistance, housing, and self-sufficiency. 

Supervisor Magsig noted the 13% increase in reported cases, also commenting that the number of cases may be underreported due COVID-19. He said teachers are often the eyes and ears and are the ones who often report when they hear from children. 

CAO Rousseau thanked the department for their hard work during the pandemic and for opening up the NRCs. 

Chairman Brandau offered a photo opportunity for the presenters. 

Regarding item 5 and 6:

State lobbyists Paul Yoder and MIcheal Corbett presented an update on state legislation. In sum:

  • The state of California is in a state of “perpetual budgeting” because of additional funds being given by the Federal government through the CARES Act and now the American Rescue Plan (ARP). To that note, Yoder said he “can’t underscore enough that you can expect a lot of state budget actions later in the summer”.

  • CalFire is already notifying local governments and NGO’s to send applications for grant money related to firefighting and forest resilience. According to Yoder it is extraordinary because the money isn’t appropriated yet.

  • Supervisor Mendes and Brandau commented on their irk of SB 467 (the “let’s kill the oil industry bill”, according to Mendes), citing Kern County’s oil industry. Brandau said it would be good for Fresno County to show support for other valley counties. Yoder said they are waiting to see if Governor Newsom will engage with the bill, and commented that 2021 will be a big year for energy legislation. 

  • CAO Rosseau asked if there will be any money available to cover costs of the Creek Fire not covered by FEMA. Corbett said there is so much money and there will be “something close to a frenzy” of people identifying pots of money available. 

  • Regarding AB 559, Chairman Brandau said Assemblyman Arambula is trying to change the board rules to make them “hyper brief”, to allow “social justice folks” in on the board, and to allow people not local to be on the board. For these reasons he opposes the bill.

Supervisor Magsig agreed, saying people on that board shouldn’t be groups or organizations but rather representatives of the communities.

Supervisor Quintero asked if Arambula had contacted anybody here. Brandau said the short answer is no. Quintero then agreed to oppose, with the rest of the board, the bill. 

  • Chairman Brandau voiced his support for AB 1078 in order to make it easier for Creek Fire homeowners to rebuild their homes instead of requiring them to install solar. Supervisor Magsig agreed, saying that Title 24 requirements may need to be suspended for them as well because solar is meant to help them meet Title 24 requirements. 

  • Chairman Brandau asked about redistricting and how it would affect Fresno County. Yoder said the state is behind in processing the data, but as soon as the state does so it will be passed to the county and the county can take it from there. 

  • The Board of Supervisors clarified the language they want to pass (see “Policies”. Supervisor Magsig noted that Coalinga oil is in the top 5 of property taxpayers, and losing them would be a hit for the general fund.

Regarding item 7, the mid- year budget report:

  • In sum, CAO Rousseau said the county is in line with expenditure expectations. He said “we expected the worst and the worst did not occur… we got the V shape recovery that some people said we would”. He brought up the question of affording salary and benefit increases, and said he appreciates the unions for “being patient”. He said we are on track to exhaust the CARES Act funds by summer, to hope to use the ARA funds to cover the costs of Creek Fire damage not covered by FEMA, and that they are “buying hotels left and right” – spending $500 million – in response to homelessness. 

  • Supervisor Magsig said this is a great opportunity to invest in infrastructure, noting library construction projects in Reedley and Clovis.

  • Supervisor Quinetro asked about the jail construction. Rousseau said that project was “moving along”, and that there was a hiccup because of the state fire marshal, sharply criticizing how the marshall approved the fire plan 3 or 4 years ago but then came back recently and found something wrong. 

  • Julia Douglie Nigeem (unable to proof spelling), a black business owner, is concerned that she was unable to receive CARES Act and other COVID 19 related grant funds because there is a pending lawsuit against EOC. She cited California law that denies discrimaintion in grant fund distribution Supreme Court rulings that deem businesses as people in grant fund distribution, and therefore is “concerned that she’s being discriminated against in being denied grant funds.” 

Regarding item 8, 

After background on the item was given, there was no discussion or public comment. 

Regarding item 9, 

Christie Johnson of Public Works and Planning gave a presentation and recommended approval of the item. There was no discussion or public comments. Supervisor Quintero was absent. 

Regarding item 10, 

  • Supervisor Magsig said he received a letter from the public about the lack of an analysis of the 2020 general plan progress report and wanted to double check with legal counsel that they legally met the requirements. Counsel Cedorborg said they did. 

  • Bradley Reed, who sent the letter, commented and said the public feels that “the county has been unresponsive to us and our concerns about the general plan”, “you aren’t willing to fully implement the plan and make sure reports are accurate and complete”, “you aren’t willing to work with the public to resolve these issues”, and encouraged the board to “step up” by including the analysis. 

  • The board passed the plan anyway. 

Regarding Supervisor comments:

  • Supervisor Magsig said there is a lot of confusion about VMT rules in the development community, and is wondering what mitigation measure the board can incorporate to make the fees lower. He’s concerned that developers will go to other communities where costs are lower.

Magsig also reported about talks of a program with PG&E for them to remove trees at no cost if the county can take care of them. He said this item will be agendazied soon. 

  • Supervisor Pacheco said that today is “National Ag Day”, and while farming “may not be glamorous and high profile it is steady and consistent”. He’s also had several inquires about redistricting from the public. Chief Operations Officer Paul Nerland clarified that committees can be formed for that process in two meetings time, although the data on redistricting is dependent on when the state releases it. 

  • Chairman Brandau said the time has come to lift the Fresno County Declaration of Emergency and that at the next board meeting we need to vote on this item. He said the county will still be under the state’s declaration of emergency but there is no need for the county to keep this declaration with vaccines on the way. Supervisor Magisg said he supports this but will keep an open mind on the item. Brandau also said he will be working soon to create an ad hoc committee to disperse the American Recovery Act funds, to which Magsig said he’d be interested in joining that committee. Supervisor Quintero said he would be asking questions about that committee later.

Regarding Public Comments: 

Two men voiced their support for an amendment to the penal code 830091C, and asked the board to support them. The men framed it as support and protection for peace officers, who are amazing contributors to the community. They said it would be “despicable to oppose it” and asked it to be agendized so they can bring it to the state of California. 

Mark Stevenson, CEO of CMG Construction, thanked the board for the work they do and asked for their support as he finalizes the completion of transition and sale for a project near Fresno City. He said it would be a great asset to the community and much needed for businesses in downtown Fresno. 


The main item of the day was the changes to the Fresno County State Legislative Platform during a discussion with state lobbyists. The board formally opposed a bill that didn’t include oil and natural gas as part of energy priorities, opposed a bill that was framed by Chairman Brandau and Supervisor Magsig as unsupportive of local representation, and supported a bill that exempts those rebuilding homes due to disasters (Creek Fire) don’t have to implement solar as energy-savers.

In addition, Chief Administrative Officer Rosseau presented a mid year budget report that essentially said the county is doing well and growing as expected.  

Other noteworthy comments came from the public, such as one black business owner asking support from the board as she claims to be discriminated against in not receiving COVID-19 related grant funds. Another public member strongly voiced his disapproval about the 2020 General Plan Progress Report, citing a lack of analysis on how closely the county follows state guidelines.

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