The council received an update on the cannabis industry; approved the local road safety plan with four pedestrian crossings, and more.

Single-family home building permits in Fresno County were up in April.

Single-family home building permits in Fresno County were up in April.

This week in Fresnoland, Cassandra wrote about a proposal by Mayor Jerry Dyer to fund an Express Development Team (EDT) within the Planning and Development Department. Some have criticized this plan as a “pay-to-play” model that will benefit only a few.

This is Cassandra Garibay, Fresnoland’s housing reporter.

It’s budget season, and this year, it comes with a huge pot of money to divvy up because of pandemic-related state and federal funding.

The mayor proposed a $1.4 billion budget in late May, and last week the City Council conducted budget hearings and proposed changes of their own.

Several times throughout the budget hearings City Councilmembers said Fresno has the chance to make big improvements with its $1 billion budget.

Mayor Jerry Dyer’s proposed budget focuses heavily on police, fire and homeless services, but when it came to the issue of affordable housing, very little was mentioned in the original budget proposal.

Most of the affordable housing initiatives related to the 2022 fiscal budget came in the form of motions from City Councilmembers.

Here’s a quick recap of what housing-related funds could be finalized in the budget Thursday:

  • Affordable Housing Trust Fund: On Tuesday, the city passed two motions that would put a total of $5 million — a $3.5 million one-time allocation from the American Rescue Plan and $1.5 from the Real Estate Tax — into an affordable housing trust fund. The creation of the trust fund to fulfill Fresno’s Housing Element.

  • Infill development incentive: The city is set to allocate $2.5 million to an incentive program to fund infill development, with direction to pursue all funding options for the program, including American Rescue Plan dollars.

  • Planning and Development hires: Mayor Dyer’s budget proposes a nearly $1.5 million budget to add about 13 people to the Planning and Development Department, which has seen a drastic increase in applications over the past year. Seven of the 13 proposed staffers would be part of the controversial express development team, which would allow developers to pay a fee for expedited services for some projects.

Councilmember Tyler Maxwell shot the idea down with a majority of the council members backing him up and instead the council moved to approve the 13 new positions and resources for the purpose of expanding the department, but eliminating the EDT.

  • Multi-family housing: The city council passed a motion for $3 million to the Clinton and Blackstone area parcel for development of multi-family housing.

  • Code enforcement: The Code Enforcement department will stay in the City Attorney’s Office, maintaining status quo with funding and positions, with the potential for change by City Council this month.

  • Mobilehome Park study: The Council passed a motion to allocate $100,000 to implement a Mobile Home Park study, which would comply with Fresno’s Housing Element.

Click here to read the full proposed budget and here for the City Council’s motions.

To keep up with the City Council meeting on Thursday, tune into the City of Fresno Facebook page or the city’s meeting portal and watch out for Fresnoland’s Documenter @AndyHS live-tweeting the meeting.

If you have questions regarding housing, specifically regarding evictions or the emergency rental assistance program, text me at 559-441-6004 and I’ll do my best to get your questions answered.

Last week in local public meetings:

At the Policy Advisory Committee Meeting of the Fresno Council of Governments on June 11, Documenter Eunice Choi reported the following:

  • The committee decided to deliberate on the process of naming a Chair and Vice Chair for the Fresno COG at the next meeting;

  • The Measure C Renewal executive committee will add new positions;

  • The Draft Action Element Outline for the Regional Transportation Plan is in process and will be up for approval soon.

  • Also, the next Policy Advisory Committee Meeting will be in-person or hybrid.

At the Transportation Technical Committee (TTC) of the Fresno Council of Governments on June 11, Documenter Olivia Muñoz reported that the committee the following:

  • Fresno County received more than $9.2 million in funds from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation Act (CRRSAA) for transportation related projects.

  • TTC agreed to recommend the approval of five grants to different Fresno County entities for the purposes of enhancing the mobility of seniors and individuals with disabilities; The public has until June 18 to comment on the proposed Regional Transportation Plan;

  • In partnership with Madera County Transportation Commission (MCTC), Fresno COG is conducting a study to determine needs regarding: access, safety, and connectivity for all modes of travel, including automobiles, transit, walking, and rolling/cycling.

At the Fresno Irrigation District Regular Meeting on June 10, Documenter Josef Sibala reported the following:

  • Assistant Manager Adam Claes remarked that canals are “full” and “delivering” to the growers with 130,000 acre feet (AF) of water in pipe land. Board members Wolfe, Jacobsen, Porter, and Beberian, except Prieto, approved the eastside hardship run, with a $125/acre water cost.

  • The City of Fresno is bidding the first segment of the high-speed rail between First St. to Fresno St. for construction during the winter.

  • FID offices will continue to enforce mask-wearing and social distancing due to the confusion on the relaxation of COVID protocols.

At the Eastern Tule Stakeholder Meeting on June 10, Documenter Josef Sibala reported the following:

  • The ETGSA Emergency Ordinance No. 2021-01 in place since Oct. 1, 2020, “reduced” the amount of groundwater consumption (by acre-feet) by 10%

  • The committee recognized the control of the Community Management Areas in Porterville, Terra Bella, and DuCor; also, the Greater East Tule Management Area will manage the irrigated areas.

  • The committee discussed the ETSA Legal Split Parcel opt-in agreement, which asks landowners of 1,300 acres of “partially in and partially out” parcels whether they want to be included under ETGSA.

At the Clovis City Council Meeting on June 14, Documenter Heather Martinez reported the following:

  • The council approved a $294.6 million 2020-2021 annual budget with $247 million in operating costs and $48 million in capital expenditures. Notable expenditures include cyber security initiatives, adding 10 staff members to the police department, replacing 31 police vehicles, updating city-wide camera infrastructure, new fire station financing, six new firefighter positions and replacing a fire engine.

  • For nearly two hours, the council was updated on the city’s sewer infrastructure 20-year plans. Councilman Bob Whalen expressed concerns that rather than the past practice of new developments paying for the growth of the city, current residents would.

At the Root Creek Water District Board of Directors meeting on June 14, Documenter Rachel Youdelman reported the following:

  • The Root Creek District is on schedule to receive 1,250 acre-feet of water via the Madera Irrigation District as of June 21.

  • The Root Creek District purchased Well #276 and awarded a contract to convert it from an agricultural to a drinking water well.

  • The Root Creek GSA voted to authorize Julia Berry, as the District’s representative among a group of 6 other GSAs, to vote in favor of Root Creek not being financially responsible for mitigation of wells outside of the Root Creek district, at the sub-basin level.

  • A vote among the Madera County GSAs implemented a groundwater allocation program: lands irrigated in the last five years are eligible for water allocation. Range land and currently unirrigated land within the Madera County GSA will not be eligible for a groundwater allocation.

At the Westlands Water District Board Meeting meeting on June 15, Documenter David Reyna reported the following:

  • General manager Thomas Birmingham reported that the Central Valley Project borrowed 77,000 AF (acre-feet) from the San Luis Dam, decreasing from the projection of 103,000 AF. These borrowings aim to relieve CVP demand and for “plenty of room” to avert water rationing.

  • Deputy General Manager of External Affairs Shelley Cartwright noted Executive Order 14017 of the Biden administration, which “covers” the food supply chain initiatives, technology, and mining. Then, she said state’s emergency regulations curbing “unreasonable” wastage and regarding water use on the Russian River.

At the Madera County Board of Supervisors meeting on June 15, Documenter Rachel Youdelman reported the following:

  • The Board approved an EIR for the Rio Mesa Boulevard development, despite objections from a Leadership Counsel policy advocate, who asserted that County staff is spending time developing new communities at the expense of the needs of existing ones.

  • The Board voted to adopt new sewer rates in Gunner Ranch West, entailing approval of a deposit agreement with Valley Children’s Hospital for the repayment of their deposit for cash flow.

  • The Board approved an acquisition & reimbursement agreement between the County and the developers of Gunner Ranch, where a waste-water treatment plant is located, a project 26 years in the making.

At the Madera City Council Meeting on June 16, Documenter Ramiro Merino reported the following:

  • The Council approved to allocate a total of $402,643 from the CDBG COVID-19 Round 3 funding to two organizations focused on rent/mortgage assistance, food assistance, utility billing assistance, and small business assistance

  • The Council approved allocation of $1,312,191 from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Action Plan funding to 12 organizations that serve low to moderate income persons, aid in the prevention or elimination of slums or blight, and/or meet a need in having a particular urgency.

  • The Council approved the zoning ordinance update that would allow for the retail sale (as in stores) of cannabis products in the C-1 and C-2 zone districts, which would increase the revenue from the cannabis business.

At the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency Executive Committee Meeting on June 17, Documenter David Reyna reported the following:

  • The Executive Committee (EC) discussed its Report on the ETGSA Emergency Ordinance No. 2021-01, which addresses drought concerns and impact on the California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The drought will not affect the policies of the SGMA already approved by the ETGSA.

  • The Executive Committee discussed the ETGSA Board’s (template) Report on Split Legal Parcel opt-in agreement. This refers to the number of parcels that are split by the East Tule basin (and subbasin) jurisdiction granted to the ETGSA. The Board’s template stated parcel owners should be able to opt-in per water year, or be given a one-time opt-in option.

Full summaries of Documenters’ notes will be available next week.

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