Documenter: Bre Yamaoka

Here’s what you should know

  • The city council adopted the 2021/2022 budget which is balanced and includes pay increases and higher health insurance and pension costs

  • Chief Lawson provided an overview of the police department cameras in place, stating all employees in the field are outfitted with body cameras, including patrol, detectives, and special investigators, and recently entered into agreement to have code enforcement officers assigned body cameras. He also noted that the crime rate has been going down since 2019.

  • Council Members are split on returning to in-person Council meetings at City Hall. The Director of the Madera County Department of Public Health will be asked to present at the next meeting to provide more information on the Delta Covid-19 variant.

Purpose of Agency

The Madera City Council, a board of seven Council Members, is the elected legislative body of the City of Madera. Members of the City Council are elected by district, and the Mayor is elected at large. There are six (6) Council districts. Members of the City Council, including the Mayor, serve four-year terms.

Madera City Council Board Members

  • Santos Garcia, Mayor

  • Cece Gallegos, Councilmember for District 1

  • Jose Rodriguez, Councilmember for District 2

  • Steve Montes, Councilmember for District 3

  • Anita Evans, Councilmember for District 4

  • Vacant, District 5

  • Artemio Villegas, Mayor Pro Tem and Councilmember for District 6

The Scene

The Madera City Council meeting was called to order at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 by Mayor Santos Garcia. The meeting was streamed live virtually through the City of Madera’s website at, the City’s Youtube channel and conference call. The meeting consisted of the six council members, including Mayor Santos Garcia, Councilmembers Cece Gallegos, Jose Rodriguez, Steve Montes, Anita Evans, and Artemio Villegas. All Council Members participated in the meeting remotely. 

Call to Order and Roll Call
The meeting began at 6:00 p.m. 

City Clerk Alecia Gonzales noted that item D2 was distributed to Councilmembers and posted to the City website late (fewer than 72 hours in advance of the meeting). 

Public Comment

City Clerk Alecia Gonzales read the public comments received via email, all related to recent Cannabis Ordinances:

  • Marilyn Delasia – request the Council change square footage requirements for vertical integration applications from 20,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet, to facilitate finding a building for any applicant.

  • From George Delasia, born/raised in Madera. Urged Council to reconsider square footage requirement for vertical integration applications, from proposed 20,000 square foot to 10,000 square feet to give opportunities to the local community. Also would like to bring awareness to the need for two more equity licenses. This is preferred from a local opportunity standpoint. 

  • Rico Saldovar, concerned about equity licensing, asked the Council to add two more equity licenses, to give small business owners a chance. Additionally, asked Council to edit square footage requirements for vertical integration applications to 10,000 square feet. 

  • Roman Gonzalez asked for a vote to add four equity licenses and to reduce square feet requirement for vertical integration applications. 

  • Akrim had concerns regarding how cannabis licenses will be awarded, and if there will be a focus on awarding licenses to local, small businesses. Recommended lowering square footage requirements  for vertical integration applications.


Request for Direction on Possible Changes to the City of Madera Typical Street Cross Sections

  • Engineer Keith Helmuth presented, noting the purpose of this item was to seek direction/confirmation of previous Council direction, as the City Council approved in concept the new cross-sections in June 2015, but none of the Councilmembers  who approved it at that time are currently serving. 

  • Goals include a walkable city, bikeable city, and transit oriented. The approved standards include dedicated bike lanes, improved pedestrian amenities such as wider sidewalks, wider arterial islands, and wider collector median lanes, wider park strips, and a meandering sidewalk. The cost for the enhanced standard is $15,624,000. 

  • Requested direction from City Council regarding sidewalk width (maintain 5 ft or increase to 6 ft), bike lanes, arterial median width (maintain 16 ft or increase to 17 ft), and collector median lane width (maintain 12 ft or increase to 14 ft), collector park strip width (maintain 10 ft or increase to 15 ft), arterial park strip width (maintain 10 ft or increase to 11ft – 20.5 ft). It was noted that most additional costs came from bike lanes, park strip, and wider lanes. 

  • Councilmember Montez asked if the enhanced standards may impact development. Engineer Keith Helmuth responded that everything that is done that increases cost is passed along to the buyer/developer, and if there is additional space allocated to sidewalks, that space is then not available for development. 

  • City Manager Arnoldo Rodriguez stated NE Fresno is an example of extremely wide landscape buffers that look nice and provide noise mitigation, but it comes at a cost in terms of resources and land. The goals are to balance having pleasant community spaces and be careful with ensuring safety of cyclists, pedestrians, and noise mitigation. 

  • Motion to accept recommendations from staff on this item passed unanimously.

Consent Calendar

The Board unanimously approved the following consent agenda items:

  • Minutes – 05/12/21

  • Informational Report on Register of Audited Demands for June 5, 2021 to June 25, 2021

  • State Department of Transportation (Caltrans) Master Agreement No. 06-5157S21 for State Funded Projects for Program Supplement Agreement No. 00000W81 and all Future Program Supplement Agreements

  • Acceptance of Parking Lot Improvements at Fire Stations 56 and 57. Recommendation:  Adopt a Minute Order Approving 1) Acceptance of the Construction of 2020-21 Fire Station 56 & 57 Parking Lots Project, City Project No. FD-01 & FD-03, 2) The Recording of Notice of Completion, 3) The Release of Retention 35 days after Recording of the Notice of Completion

  • Section 125 Benefit Plan Restatement

Councilmember Gallegos requested to pull the item “Acceptance of Parking Lot Improvements at Fire Stations 56 and 57”  to recognize Dave Christensen & Company for completing the project under budget. 

Public Hearings

Public Hearing to Consider Declaration of Nuisances and Abatement Order for Weeds and Debris.

  • The Weed Abatement Program is designed to prevent fire hazards created by overgrown vegetation and combustible debris. Staff requested approval of a resolution authorizing the abatement of weed nuisances existing within the City of Madera. 

  • As of this meeting, four properties were in violation, including 815 Bloker St, 701 South A St, 876 E Olive Ave, 1205 E Almond Ave. These properties have been sent citations. 

  • Councilmember Gallegos mentioned that she was out and about in the city today and saw several examples of weeds above 6 inches and asked about the process for abatement. Councilmember Gallegos asked about properties in violation multiple times / “repeat offenders” and if there can be additional penalties or citations. Out of 397 lots, 15 are repeat offenders. Councilmember Montez suggested looking into total cost recovery for repeat offenders.

  • Resolution authorized

Petitions, Bids, Resolutions, Ordinances, and Agreements

  • Landscape and Lighting Assessment District Zones of Benefit: Engineer’s Report and Intention to Levy and Collect Annual Assessment for City Wide Landscape and Lighting Assessment District Zones of Benefit for Fiscal Year 2021/2022

    • Approved

    • Public hearing was set for 7/21/21

  • Public hearing on the City of Madera Operating Budget and Capital Improvement Program for Fiscal Year 2021/2022 

    • Finance Director Roger Sanchez Ruiz presented an overview of the final budget. Purpose of this item was to adopt the operating budget of FY 2021/2022. The budget is balanced.

    • Some adjustments were made related to special revenue funds that improved revenue projections. Total operating expenses are $78.6m, of which $41.5m (53%) is in the general fund. 

    • Citywide labor costs in 20/21 budget were $21.5m; proposed labor costs for 21/22 are $24.8m (reasons for the increase include pay increases, increases in health insurance and pension cost)

    • Outstanding debt is currently $63.2m; $5.4m is budgeted for debt payments in FY 2021/22

    • City Manager Rodriguez clarified that at the last meeting, Council discussed the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) presented in April. Discussion brought up regarding sidewalk on Shore Avenue that is included in this evening’s budget. Councilmember Evans requested to revisit CIP $268k for Shore Ave. at a later date.

    • Budget approved unanimously

Administrative Reports 

  • Update on the Madera Police Department Cameras and Three Year Arrest Totals

    • Chief Dino Lawson presented, stating all employees in the field are outfitted with body cameras,  including patrol, detectives, and special investigators, and recently entered into agreement to have code enforcement officers assigned body cameras. Total of 44 cameras. All patrol vehicles have in-car cameras (48 cameras in patrol and motor vehicles). This was a strategic priority.

    • Chief Lawson stated they received a grant from CCP for hard mounted license plate readers (LPRs) and 2 mobile LPR units that have been installed. They share with other local police departments, including Fresno PD and San Jose PD. Chief Lawson specifically noted they do not share LPR data with ICE.  

    • Chief Lawson noted that as part of the Citywide Surveillance project, there are 5 hard mounted cameras throughout the city to view and capture evidence, including traffic accidents.  They have been approached by CalTRANS and CHP to obtain additional cameras for county properties.

    • Chief Lawson provided the arrest counts for the four ‘beats’ in the city. In 2019, there were 4,319 arrests, which went down to 3,091 in 2020. For the first half of 2021, there were 1,761 arrests, and the crime rate has been going down since 2019, including a 3% reduction in violent crime.

  • City Council to provide direction on how City Council meetings will be conducted going forward

    • City Manager Rodriguez noted in March 2020 at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Governor of California issued a series of orders addressing public meetings under the Brown Act. One of the relaxed requirements is that local agencies could conduct public meetings virtually, with Councilmembers attending by teleconference. The Governor’s orders that allow Councilmembers to attend by teleconference are set to sunset 9/30 though it is possible the Governor will extend the order. City Hall opened two weeks ago, and some employees are working remotely. Not all programs are operating as they were before the Covid-19 pandemic.

    • Mayor Garcia stated his preference is to wait to return to in-person meetings. He noted the California Capitol reinstated its mask mandate on Tuesday, July 7th as there was a Covid-19 outbreak amongst staff. 

    • Councilmember Gallegos encouraged the Council to consider returning to in person meetings starting with the next meeting. She noted that residents may not have access to computers, understand how to work with Zoom, and encounter challenges trying to connect.

    • Council Member Montez agreed with Council Member Gallegos to return to in person meetings as soon as possible, stating access is important. He noted he has seen people struggle with Zoom here in Council and at work, and that it can be a barrier for people to participate. He noted to allow the public to participate via Zoom if they choose, but that Council should show up in person. 

    • Council Member Rodriguez requested Sara Bosse, the Director of Madera County Department of Public Health, attend a future Council meeting to provide more information. 

    • Council Member Evans requested more information first before returning to in person meetings. She noted she recently received information from a hospital that they are not allowing volunteers to return since cases are increasing. Requested Sara Bosse return with information on Delta variant. 

    • There was a motion to meet in person at the next meeting, with a virtual option for the public to attend. Motion failed 3-3 (Mayor Garcia and Council Members Evans and Villegas voted noes). 

    • There was a motion to request Sara Bosse from Madera County Department of Public Health present data and information on Covid-19 at the next Council meeting, and that based on information received, that there will be an open meeting in August. There was a lot of discussion of this motion and at times it did not seem clear what was being requested. Motion failed 2-3-1 (Mayor Garcia and Councilmembers Evans and Villegas voted noes, Councilmember Gallegos abstained). 

Councilmember Reports/Announcements/Future Agenda Items

Council Member Gallegos reported that she attended The Lisa Project for Madera County, and recommended others attend.

Council Member Rodriguez requested Sara Bosse present at a future Council meeting regarding the Delta Covid-19 variant and new data. The City Manager will reach out to her. 

There was one public comment over the phone, the person did not identify themself. They said that Council meetings should be available in person and that members of the public should be able to meet Councilmembers in person. They questioned the necessity of hearing from Madera County Department of Public Health stating there is information available from the CDC online.

Closed Session

The Board went into closed session at 8:38pm. 

  • Conference with Legal Counsel – Anticipated Litigation, Workers Comp Claim

  • Conference with Labor Negotiators

Reconvene into Open Session

The Board meeting reconvened to Open Session at 8:50 p.m. There was no reportable action taken during closed session.


Mayor Garcia adjourned the meeting at 8:50 p.m.

Next regular meeting is July 21, 2021

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