Documenter: Heather Halsey Martinez


  • After returning from a closed session to discuss ongoing litigation against the city regarding affordable housing, Flores announced that the council approved appealing the decision of the court. “This involves the arena overlay and the way that the city is using this as a tool in order to have more affordable housing in our jurisdiction,” he said. “We need to use this overlay tool to find land in our city and it’s been effective.” 

  • The council and city manager discussed uses for $17.3 million that the city will receive from the American Rescue Plan. After some discussion, the majority agreed that using the funds to make up for a loss in general revenue funds would give the city the greatest flexibility. The council may then decide to direct general revenue funds for specific uses, such as premium pay for essential workers.

  • The council voted to extend an emergency order to Oct. 15, 2021 that allows restaurants and other businesses impacted by COVID-19 to expand services to temporary patios in public and private outdoor common areas. 

The Scene

The Clovis City Council meeting took place on Monday, May 17, 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. 

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 Whalen leading the council in the Pledge of Allegiance. Then Bessinger presented a proclamation declaring May 16 to 22, 2021 National Public Works Week. 

From there, the meeting was open for public comments. No members of the public were online or in council chambers. But one piece of correspondence from Rachel was noted as received and would be placed on the record. 


  • Approved minutes from the May 3 council meeting.

  • Approved purchase of support and maintenance contract for network and telecommunications equipment in the amount of $93,447.89 from Zones, Inc. Staff received seven bids and Zones, Inc. was the lowest. 

  • Received and filed Business Organization of Old Town (BOOT) third quarter report.

  • Received and filed Economic Development Corporation serving Fresno County quarterly report.

  • Received and filed investment report for February 2021.

  • Received and filed treasurer’s report for February 2021.

  • Approved ROI to annex territory on northwest corner of Locan and Teague to Communities Facilities District and authorized the levy of special taxes and set public hearing for June 21, 2021.

  • Received and filed 2020 fire department annual report.

  • Approved a list of six street improvement projects totaling $4.553 million funded by Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act:

    • Armstrong Avenue from Tollhouse to Sierra Avenues

    • Bullard Avenue from Armstrong to Temperance Avenues

    • Gettysburg Avenue from Sierra Vista Parkway to Clovis Avenue

    • Ashlan Avenue from DeWolf to Locan Avenues

    • Clovis Avenue from Shepherd to Teague Avenues

    • Barstow Avenue from Villa to Minnewawa Avenues

  • Approved an increase in development impact fees through a resolution revising the master development fee schedule and provided a description of fees to be requested for County adoption. 

    • Sean Smith, supervising civil engineer, presented the item. The changes will take effect on July 19, 2021. 

    • The parks fee will increase from 2 to 3%. 

    • The fire department fee will increase from 3 to 5%. 

    • “We don’t want to be reactive to spikes, but we also want to plan wisely and be prepared for trends in the market,” Smith said. 

    • Staff performed public outreach via email to more than 130 stakeholders. 

      • In response, the BIA of Fresno County requested a meeting and then responded with a letter saying that it will not oppose the proposed increases.

  • Approved amendments to articles 1, 10 and 11 of Chapter 2.2 of Title 2 of the Clovis Municipal Code pertaining to the appointment of city clerk and city treasurer.

    • Ashbeck abstained from voting because said that she hadn’t read the amendments. 

  • Continued introduction of the 2021-22 City of Clovis annual budget, five-year capital improvement program and information regarding the Clovis Successor Agency.

    • City Manager Luke Serpa presented the budget of $295 million. He described it as a, “recovery budget,” in that it restores cuts and freezes that were made last year:

      • Restoring six police officers.

      • Restoring three and adding six new firefighters and operating funds for fire station 6.

      • Operating funds and debt service for the new senior center.

      • Fire station 2 replacement.

      • Significant investment in public safety vehicles.

      • 24 new or resources positions city-wide.

      • New finance and utility system implementation.

      • Police Department technology upgrades and replacement. 

      • Fire equipment replacement. 

      • Economic Development. 

    • $732,000 unreserved general fund balance will remain. 

    • Budget does not include American Rescue Plan funds. 

    • Still some concern of secondary economic slowdown due to supply-side disruptions, Serpa gave the example of new vehicles being in short supply.  

    • Serpa said revenues decreased less than anticipated due to COVID-19 and they did not tap into emergency reserve.

    • Budget will be adopted on June 14. 

  • City Manager Luke Serpa gave an update on the American Rescue Plan (ARP). He said Clovis will receive $17.3 million. Funds must be obligated by Dec. 31, 2024 and expended by Dec. 31, 2026. 

    • Allowable expenditures include:

      • Response to public health emergency limited to costs incurred after March 3, 2021. Potential for the city to implement new programs, such as a program to promote vaccines. 

      • Response to economic impacts, such as potential direct assistance to households, small businesses, nonprofits and impacted industries. Or salary and benefits for city staff positions that were eliminated due to COVID-19. 

      • Premium pay for essential workers-identifies specific industries and job types, targets lower paying occupations and includes government workers.

      • Offsetting lost revenue to the city. Serpa said the city lost $2.9 million as of Dec. 31, 2020. Projections for lost revenue through 2024 depends on economic growth, but could be $12.6 million with 6% growth or $27.4 million with 3% growth. 

      • Infrastructure repairs or improvements limited to water, sewer and broadband. Water and sewer projects need to be consistent with EPA revolving fund criteria and it has to fix a problem for current users, not expand capacity for new growth. 

    • Disallowed expenditures include deposits into a pension fund and offsetting a tax reduction.

    • Serpa recommended using the funds to replace the lost general fund revenue projections are potentially more than the entire ARP allocation. He said they would explore other programs if annual evaluations show projected revenue losses to be less than ARP allocation. 

      • He said hiring staff to fill positions that were cut or frozen is also specified as an allowable expenditure and could be considered.

    • Bessinger asked if this is the safest course of action.

    • Whalen asked how the money would come into the budget and whether it needs to be spent. 

    • Flores asked about the revenue projections and Serpa said they provide a methodology that is used to make the calculations.

    • Mouanoutoua asked for clarification on the types of infrastructure projects it would cover and Serpa explained it couldn’t be anything prior to March 3, 2021.

    • Ashbeck asked about giving funds to households, such as fee offsets to affordable housing developments for those impacted by COVID-19. Serpa said they could use general fund revenue for that use.

    • Flores asked about city construction projects. Serpa said sewer projects are all growth driven and won’t qualify. He said some water treatment improvements could qualify. He also asked about broadband infrastructure and, “digital divide,” but Serpa pointed out that is a lack of household finances to pay for internet bills, which could possibly be a use for the funds. 

    • Mouanoutoua asked about water filtration and Serpa said it has been done to all facilities. He also asked if they could evaluate how safe the city’s networks are. Serpa said they could evaluate that for projects to take place after March 3 and that they do have user-fee driven services to pay for that. 

    • Ultimately, if they accept the funds as general revenue funds then they can allocate funds to different areas from the general fund, without risking not meeting the stringent ARP guidelines. 

    • Whalen said, “This approach, I think, allows for the greatest amount of flexibility because if we are using it to replace lost revenue then that’s something that could be used in the future and even in the present for anything that we want it to.” 

    • “I do want to point out that I know this is directed toward equity, but I think it’s important for us to remember that there’s a difference between equity and equality,” Whalen said. “When it comes to equity, it’s a lot about identifying different classes of people and figuring out how whatever is identified as the lower economic class somehow can receive a benefit that the upper economic class does not and that can create some confusion and tension that is unnecessary.” 

    • Mouanoutoua said he would like to gauge the community needs through a survey or program.

    • Flores said he believes staff will recognize gaps in the community and he believes the staff’s proposal will allow them to do that.

    • Ashbeck said she’s experienced the problems in her day job with needs of the organization not fitting the approved expenditures for the ARP funds and fears that would be the issue with asking the community for their input. 

    • Bessinger agreed with the recommendations and thought it was the safe route to take. 

  • Community and Economic Development Director Andrew Haussler presented updates regarding COVID-19 emergency orders and sought policy direction to assist restaurants and other businesses severely impacted by COVID-19, which were allowed to temporarily expand capacity into public and private common areas under specified circumstances and potential for longer term uses.

    • Initially considered to be a very short-term solution for a few weeks. 

    • Currently, 19 businesses are operating temporary outdoor patios and one in Old Town Clovis. 

    • Haussler asked the council, “Would the council like to allow outdoor use beyond current emergency orders?” 

      • Whalen said if they do nothing then those businesses would need to close their outdoor operations. Haussler confirmed that was correct.

      • Haussler said some businesses have received sidewalk dining permits in Old Town Clovis, which would allow them to continue using sidewalk space for dining.

      • For private property, owners can submit applications to expand business spaces outdoors.

      • Ashbeck said she does think there are some interesting uses for the space in Old Town, but they do need a standard and expectation for use. But the need for parking in Old Town Clovis would require more thought. She said she is in the, “yes and category.” 

      • Bessinger said he knows the owners of Luna’s Pizzeria and was curious if they would have to remove their patio structure and it was confirmed that they would need to if another decision isn’t made. He said, “I can’t be real supportive of shutting people down like that.” 

      • Flores said, “I think the pandemic is almost over, I think here in Clovis we’ve reached herd immunity and if people continue to get the vaccine, it’s over. But 2020 was devastating to restaurants and service industry businesses.” 

        • “Government doesn’t do nuance very well,” Flores said. “Every single business is going to be a different case and you can’t make a regulation to fit all businesses.” 

        • “My parents had a restaurant and I’m glad they didn’t have to live through this,” Flores said. 

      • Haussler said he was hearing that they had a desire to provide restaurants access to outdoor space around them to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 so they could allow them to submit permits to allow them to occupy adjacent street space.

        • He said the emergency order could stay in place into July, but they would give businesses time to apply for outdoor permits and make permanent improvements. 

        • He said they would recommend a limit of days and times for outdoor operation. 

    • The Williams family, owners of 559 Beer, on Pollasky Avenue and Fourth Street, were in council chambers. They said they are paying fees to BOOT for two spaces for the Friday night Farmers Market. Additionally, he said it is a lot of labor to move the patio inside and outside. He said he’s had two positive months and is an advocate for the proposed parklet in Old Town Clovis.

    • Haussler said they would extend emergency orders through Oct. 15, 2021 and they would examine ways to manage Old Town uses and how they work around planned events. 

From there, Flores opened the meeting for council comments. Mouanoutoua commented on Butterfly Gardens and thanked city staff for the invitation. Bessinger said that he thinks some residents may be confused about the city council’s role in building affordable housing, based on some of the public comments he’s read. “If any government entity decides that they are going to be the lead role in affordable housing, it becomes a very costly item,” Bessinger said. “Affordable housing almost becomes prohibitive.” He said he wished they would educate themselves. 

Ashbeck commented on Butterfly Gardens and said on the way to her car she talked to neighboring residents who had concerns that they were not notified or made aware of the project ahead of time. “I’d love to think of a way to communicate this when it’s not required by law but it’s the right thing to do,” she said. 

Flores said one of the neighbors near Butterfly Gardens told him, “it’s better than a vacant lot.” He went on to say, “Clovis wants affordable housing, it’s one of my pet peeves.” 

The council then moved into closed session at 8:20 p.m. to conference with legal counsel regarding existing litigation for the case, Desiree Martinez v. City of Clovis. It was noted that they received five letters that would be recorded as public comments. It was noted that the counsel would reconvene for the public portion of the meeting and report out if any action was taken. 

The council reconvened at 8:44 p.m. Flores said that the council approved appealing the decision of the court. “This involves the arena overlay and the way that the city is using this as a tool in order to have more affordable housing in our jurisdiction,” he said. 

“We need to use this overlay tool to find land in our city and it’s been effective,” Flores said. “Just last week, we used this tool to allow Self Help Industries and Upholdings to build a 75-unit affordable housing project at Holland and Willow, Butterfly Gardens, and that’s the type of projects we need here in Clovis and without this overlay it wouldn’t have happened and they are trying to deny that.” 

The meeting adjourned at 8:46 p.m. Future meetings are scheduled for June 7, 14, 21 and July 6, 12, and 19. 

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