Documenter: Heather Halsey Martinez

Here’s what you need to know

  • Days after the City of Fresno closed council chambers to the public due to the Delta variant, the Fresno Planning Commission held a hybrid meeting with three commissioners in council chambers and three attending via Zoom. 

  • After hearing a public comment about traffic and street racing in the area, the commissioners approved a 48-unit, two-story apartment complex located on the east side of North Cecilia Avenue, between West Sierra and West Escalon Avenues in Fresno. 

The meeting (in full)

The Scene

The Fresno Planning Commission meeting took place on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021 at 6:10 p.m. Some of the commissioners met in the council chambers, while others joined via Zoom. The agenda states that public comments can still be submitted electronically or via Zoom. Meetings also continue to be viewable on CMAC and the City of Fresno’s YouTube channel.

Names of officials:

Kathy Bray, Chairperson (also owner of Denham Resources)

Brad Hardie, Vice Chair (also President of Regency Property Management)

David Criner, Commissioner (also pastor at Saint Rest Baptist Church)

Peter Vang, Commissioner (also Associate at Thiesen Dueker Financial Consulting Group)

Monica Diaz, Commissioner

Haley Wagner, Commissioner (also insurance agent for the Arthur J. Gallagher brokerage)

Robert Fuentes, Commissioner (also a staff attorney for the U.S. District Court in Fresno)

Fuentes was in council chambers and led the commission in the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Bray, Fuentes and Diaz were in chambers. Hardie and Vang joined via Zoom with their videos initially off, while Wagner had her camera on. Criner was absent.


  • Approved unanimously the agenda as posted. 

  • Approved a 48-unit apartment complex consisting of six, two-story buildings located on the east side of North Cecilia Avenue, between West Sierra and West Escalon Avenues in Fresno. 

    • City of Fresno Planner Thomas Veatch presented the item. 

    • A neighborhood meeting was held on April 13, 2021 and two members of the public attended. They commented on traffic at the nearby intersection, distance from grocery stores, impact to views of mountain ranges, parking and the desire for a park in the location. 

    • He said a notice of public hearing was mailed. 

    • Veatch received an email in opposition on Aug. 16 from Scott Fertig. He lives in the nearby Meridian housing tract and said Cecilia Avenue already has a traffic problem with street racing and is concerned the apartment complex would increase the problem. 

    • Vang asked if other apartments in the vicinity are two stories. Wagner said she lived in the area previously and knows one of the newer complexes is two stories. 

    • Wagner asked if Veatch had any info about speeding or traffic accidents in the area. He said they don’t look into that for the review process. 

    • The applicant, Ken Motschiedler of Barken Development and Construction, was on the Zoom. He said the property is an odd, triangular shape and was designed so garbage trucks can pull straight through and won’t have to back up or turn around. 

      • He said it allows visibility from both directions for tenants driving out onto Cecilia Avenue. He said he is concerned if the street is being used as a drag strip and would work with the city to alleviate the problem if there is one. 

    • Bray asked how many lanes Cecilia Avenue is and was told it is two lanes in each direction. She asked if they could put in speed bumps or anything to slow down drivers. Motschiedler said they would be happy to work with the city to do that. 

      • She was told horizontal deflection would be advised around a corner or a roundabout or traffic circle, but speed bumps are not allowed in the city. 

      • City of Fresno Assistant Director Andrew Benelli  joined the meeting and Bray asked him if traffic calming could be done to slow it down. He said chokers or a traffic circle could be used because they don’t use speed bumps. 

      • He said reducing the width of the street would be hard if parking will be allowed along the street. 

      • Motschiedler said they have adequate and excess parking on site so it isn’t necessary to have parking along Cecilia Avenue. 

    • Bray asked if it was zoned for R-5, how many homes could they fit on it. A staff member told her it is consistent with the land use designation. 

    • Bray said Commissioner Lopez had a comment and Diaz corrected her and asked her question. She asked why speed bumps were not allowed. 

      • Benelli said they get a lot of requests for speed bumps, but it was a concern for police and fire that it increases the response time for emergencies. Also, those who live close to the speed bumps get a lot of noise from cars decelerating and making noise going over them. 

      • He said he was at a police meeting the night before and they have seen an increase in drag racing and high performance cars. “They’ve had a lot of issues with the racing crowd causing problems,” he said. 

    • Motschiedler asked if they could add a three-way stop. Benelli said they would need traffic counts to see if there is adequate traffic. Then Motschiedler asked about possibly putting in a four-way stop and Benelli said they could look at it. 

    • Wagner said that if traffic increases on the street wouldn’t it inherently decrease the ability to speed along the street. 

      • Benelli said it typically happens at night so it would depend who the tenants are and if they are looking out for it. He said they could do speed surveys there, signage and possibly a stop sign. 

      • Veatch commented that there is no parking allowed along part of Cecilia Avenue. 

    • Bray said using less ag land and keeping infill development more dense is top of mind for her. 

      • Diaz and Fuentes said they were in support of the project. 

    • Hardie abstained from voting, all other commissioners in attendance voted yes. 

Planning and Development Director Jennifer Clark was on Zoom. She said the hybrid meeting model would be in effect at least through September 1. 

Bray then opened the meeting for public comments. No comments were made. 

The meeting adjourned at 6:34 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for September 1 and they usually occur on the first and third Wednesdays of the month.

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.