Documenter: Heather Halsey Martinez


  • The Clovis City Council spent over an hour discussing an assessment increase on a 126-home gated community, where the city is essentially operating as the defacto homeowner’s association (HOA). The development was built in 1994, but since homeowners wanted a gate yet did not want an HOA, the city formed an assessment district to collect fees to fund property management, gate repairs, landscaping and road repairs. Council members discussed the possibility of removing the gate entirely and eliminating the assessment district altogether, but ultimately voted to move forward with allowing homeowners to vote on a proposed fee increase. 

  • The council repealed pandemic-related emergency orders regarding price gouging, waiving RV parking restrictions, suspending transit fees, local enforcement of statewide stay at home requirements and enforcement of local emergency orders.

  • The council awarded a $77,969 contract to Calgon Carbon Corporation to remove and replace Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) at Well 12 located at 900 Gettysburg Avenue. Well 12 is currently offline and cannot be placed back into production until the carbon is replaced so that the contaminant level stays below the maximum level set by the State. GAC is used at Well 12 to remove 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP) from the drinking water.

The Scene

The Clovis City Council meeting took place on Monday, May 3, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. The meeting was made available via Webex and YouTube Live. The agenda states that face masks are required for those who attend in person due to COVID-19. None of the council members wore masks while seated in council chambers. Ashbeck was absent from the meeting, as she said she would be unable to attend at the April 19 meeting. 

Names of officials:

Jose Flores, Mayor (also Chief of Police, State Center Community College District Police Department)

Lynne Ashbeck, Mayor Pro Tem (also Senior Vice President Community Engagement and Population Wellness, Valley Children’s Healthcare)

Vong Mouanoutoua, Council Member (also External Relations and Project Development Director, Community Medical Foundation)

Bob Whalen, Council Member (also Fresno County Deputy District Attorney)

Drew Bessinger, Council Member (also Chief of Police, Fresno Yosemite International Airport)

The meeting opened with Mouanoutoua leading the council in the Pledge of Allegiance. Bessinger then presented a proclamation declaring May 3 to 16, 2021 National Salvation Army Week. 

From there, the meeting was open for public comments. A couple who introduced themselves as The Williams family, owners of 559 Beer, on Pollasky Avenue and Fourth Street, were in council chambers. He commented on the challenges as a small business owner due to the pandemic, even now in the orange tier they can only operate at 50% capacity. But he said their ability to offer outdoor dining really helped their business and asked the city council to reconsider their decision to remove the, “street corrals,” at the beginning of May. Flores said since it’s not on the agenda he can’t comment on it specifically, but said that they are open to solutions to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on businesses. 

Whalen asked City Manager Luke Serpa about when they would make decisions about the relaxation of outdoor dining restrictions. Serpa said it may be July 15, which would be 30 days after June 15 when restaurants will be allowed to operate at full capacity indoors. Whalen commented that he would like to continue that conversation before July 15. They also discussed restrictions on Friday nights for the Farmer’s Markets in Old Town Clovis that could restrict businesses from operating outdoor during those hours. 

Michael Sigala, president and founder of Innovative Development and Living Solutions of California , provided the council an update on the senior assisted-living community, Magnolia Crossing. He said they were doing well and made it through the year with low COVID numbers and no deaths, and received vaccines in January. He said the cost of PPE, limited new residents and staff turnover made it a difficult year to operate. “We could not have made it without federal assistance,” he said. Sigala said the unique design of their community made them in a good position to cope with COVID and he has shared the community’s success with state and local government agencies. He asked if the council would consider using some COVID relief funds for operational support of nonprofits like them that cared for the most vulnerable populations during the worst pandemic of our time. “We would be thrilled to build more housing, especially affordable housing, which is very much needed in our great community,” Sigala said. 

Chrissy Falk, owner of Cabinet Connection and former owner of Blast & Brew, was online and she asked the council, “What culture are you trying to achieve in Old Town Clovis?” She said she was there on Saturday night during rodeo weekend to see live music on the patio near Blast & Brew from 5 to 8 p.m. But just before 8 p.m., Clovis Police Officers came in and asked them to turn off the music and asked them to stop serving alcohol and beer to the customers on the patio, due to people in the parking lot consuming alcohol. 

Flores thanked her for her comments and said that Old Town Clovis has a reputation for nightlife, but that reputation has also, “got out of control too.” “We want the heart of our city to be the best example of our city,” he said. Whalen seemed friendly with Falk and asked Serpa for more details on why they took the action that was taken. Bessinger said that most of the police units were in Old Town Clovis after midnight due to these types of issues with alcohol. “We have to make sure we plan it well, otherwise we’ll be the victim of our own success,” Bessinger said. 

It was noted that video was not working on the Webex meeting, but that audio was working, and it indeed was.


  • Approved minutes from the April 19 council meeting. Approved unanimously with no discussion.

  • Approved a $77,969 contract to Calgon Carbon Corporation to remove and replace Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) at Well 12 located at 900 Gettysburg Avenue. Well 12 is currently offline and cannot be placed back into production until the carbon is replaced so that the contaminant level stays below the maximum level set by the State. GAC is used at Well 12 to remove 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP) from the drinking water.

  • Approved preliminary engineer’s report and approval for a resolution declaring the city’s intention to levy and collect annual assessments for landscape maintenance. 

  • Approved a request to rezone approximately 23 acres, located at the northeast corner of Nees and Minnewawa Avenues from single-family residential very low density to single-family residential low density. It is on the agenda because at introduction it was approved with a less than unanimous vote on April 19 (4-0-0-1 with Whalen abstaining due to his connection with The Well Community Church).

    • Whalen said he would remain on the dais this time. Three voted in favor, one abstention and one absence. 

  • Approved a resolution to levy and collect assessments for fiscal year 2021-22 and authorized the City of Clovis to conduct a property owner Proposition 218 proceeding for Blackhorse Estates. The arrangement allows the city to act as the homeowner’s association for this development to collect the assessments and then pass them along to Regency Property Management to use and manage the property accordingly. 

    • The first tract was originally developed in 1994 with public streets. Then the developer and residents wanted a gated subdivision and the assessment district was formed in 1995 to provide for maintenance of streets and gates. 

    • Current assessment rates are $557 per lot for area 1 (45 homes) and $461 in area 2 (81 homes). Proposed increased fees are $646.58 for area 1 and $544.46 for area 2. 

    • If the council does not approve the levy, street sealing may have to be delayed to a future year.

    • If approved, ballots will be mailed to owners on May 5. On June 21, ballots will be opened, tabulated and the results declared by area. 

    • Bessinger asked if there was a water main break in the area would the city be responsible for fixing the roadway. Sean Smith, supervising civil engineer, said it would be the city’s responsibility.

    • Mouanoutoua asked if every rate increase goes through this process and was told that yes, it goes through a Proposition 218 vote.

    • Whalen asked what they would need to do to eliminate the assessment district and take down the security gate, if the homeowners decide to vote against the fee increase.

    • Bessinger asked if they could poll residents if they would like to take their gate down and allow the city to take back the maintenance of their streets and landscape. 

    • Flores said that these homeowners were promised a gated community by the developer that wasn’t real. So then, the “infamous city council of yesteryear,” approved making it this special district. “It’s been a problem every time this comes before us and we play referee,” he said.

    • Steve Doherty was online and said he lives in area 1. “It’s no secret that the roads have needed maintenance and in the last 26 years no maintenance has been done,” he said. But he asked why the funds haven’t ensured the ongoing maintenance of the roads when it is the city engineer that is deciding the allocation of the funds. “That’s our biggest concern, is the lack of visibility about where these funds are being allocated and spent,” he said. 

      • City Engineer Michael Harrison said they have money set aside to pay for the slurry seal, but they need to start rebuilding that fund so they have money set aside for future projects. He shared a chart showing capital improvement projects with the council, but it wasn’t viewable online due to issues with the Webex video. Harrison said the information on the projects would be shared with the community this week. 

    • Bill Saberson was in council chambers. He said he moved into the district in 1995 and they were the third home there. He said he communicated with 39 homes and all but one are fine with the small increase in fees, they want the gated community, but they would like transparency. He had a copy of a resolution from May 1, 1995. He also asked for a competitive bidding process when deciding on a property management company, landscapers and other entities.

      • He also brought up Proposition 13 and that assessments can’t be based on property values, but they should be based on a benefit assessment.

    • Whalen asked about deciding on a new date for the vote, but if they do then the assessment may not be implemented until the following fiscal year. The assessment engineer said the deadline will be late July and said they could reschedule the public hearing for a meeting in July. 

  • Approved amending articles 1, 10-11 of chapter 2.2 of Title 2 of the Clovis Municipal Code pertaining to the appointment of City Clerk and City Treasurer. The amendment removes the requirement that the city clerk be assigned at the department head level and have the city clerk appointed by the city manager and ratified by the city council. It also appoints the finance director as treasurer appointed by the city manager and ratified by the city council. 

  • Received and filed an annual update on California Open Governance Laws, Brown Act, Public Records Act. City Attorney Scott Cross updated the council and noted the following changes:

    • AB 992 addresses social media use and council members may communicate with the public on social media. But social media interaction between council members relating to city business may constitute a Brown Act violation, including posting comments, liking a post or re-tweeting a communication from another member. 

    • Conflict of interest basic rule is that councilmembers have no participation in the making of, or using influence on, a governmental decision that has a reasonably foreseeable material financial effect on an individual or immediate family.

    • The recusal process should include stating the reason for recusal, partial absences still require disclosure before leaving or upon joining the meeting, must be made oral and part of the record. For closed session items, announcements must be made in open session before going into closed session.

    • New gift limit is $520 per calendar year, must report individual gifts of $50 or more. Gifts can be regifted to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit within 30 days. 

  • Approved change of council meeting schedule. Serpa said there was nothing on the agenda for May 10 and recommended canceling it. 

  • Approved a letter of opposition to SB 210 regarding automated license plate recognition (LPR) systems and use of data. Serpa said it requires information captured that doesn’t match a “hot list” must be deleted within 24 hours. 

    • Clovis Police Chief Curt Fleming said they have used historical data from cameras and LPR data to solve homicides, burglaries, shootings and numerous other crimes. “It would really hamstring the technology as we’re using it today,” Fleming said.

    • Bessinger said he’s taken part in investigations that used the LPR data to help identify a murder suspect. “I don’t think they want to be helpful to law enforcement quite frankly,” Bessinger said. 

    • “They’ve turned their backs on victims,” Flores said. “These are tools that law enforcement needs on a daily basis to apprehend criminals.” “That’s what Wiener is doing here, he wants to help in the commission of crimes,” Flores said.  Whalen jokingly asked him if he wanted them to charge him as an accessory and Flores laughed and said, “Yeah, I could make the elements. I’m very creative that way.”

  • Approved a letter of opposition to AB 339 regarding local government public meeting requirements. Serpa said the bill’s author has agreed to make some changes that address their concerns. He said the bill requires all public meetings be available via telephone or internet and requires translation services into several languages in real-time, which he said could be a challenge. 

    • Whalen asked that they change the letter to be opposed unless amended. 

  • Approved repealing pandemic-related emergency orders regarding price gouging, waiving RV parking restrictions, suspending transit fees, local enforcement of statewide stay at home requirements and enforcement of local emergency orders.

    • Serpa said these are no longer needed or are covered under other orders. They have permanently eliminated transit fees.

    • Flores asked if they could relax any of the measures in the chambers. But Serpa said no, the public health order still requires six feet of distance; it doesn’t change anything for council meetings yet. “Once again the governor, huh?” Flores said.

Serpa gave an update on COVID-19 cases in the state and local area. He said cases in California and Fresno County are dropping fast. In Fresno County,  4.9 adjusted new cases per 100,000 population, 2.5% positivity rate, 3.2% health equity quartile positivity rate. He noted Fresno County is in the orange tier and the county needs less than 2 new cases per 100,000 population less than 2% to move to the yellow tier. 

Serpa said COVID-19 vaccine rates are plateauing in Fresno County. He said 668,432 doses have been administered in Fresno County to date and 36.1% of residents have received at least 1 dose with 25.2% of residents being fully vaccinated. The county is currently vaccinating any individual age 16 or older.

From there, Flores opened the meeting for council comments. Mouanoutoua thanked Flores for attending a funeral for a man who was a resident of Clovis. Whalen said he had a great time at the rodeo. “It’s nice to slowly get back into regular life here in Clovis,” he said. Bessinger commented on the City of Clovis flag that was used during the flag, which he developed during his term as mayor. 

Flores commented on a push to postpone Measure C for two years. The renewal vote would be delayed from 2022 to 2024. “Measure C has done a lot for the whole county, 168 is a product of Measure C,” he said. He also commented on the rodeo and what a success it was. “All of us that live in this community, we were leaders throughout the region in exemplifying what needs to be done to overcome such a great medical issue,” Flores said.

Whalen said he attended the North Kings GSA and that they had approved their budgets and received grants for recharge. He also wished Flores a happy birthday the following week. 

The public portion of the meeting adjourned at 8:52 p.m. Future meetings are scheduled for May 17 and June 7, 14 and 21.  

If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at with “Correction Request” in the subject line.

Support our nonprofit journalism.


Your contribution is appreciated.