Documenter: Heather Halsey Martinez

Here’s what you need to know

  • The Clovis City Council approved amendments to the Development Code that align with recent state housing laws. The changes relate to housing development project standards and procedures, density bonus provisions, accessory dwelling units approved “by right” and review procedures.

  • City Planner Dave Merchen said that SB 9 and SB 10 will require further amendments. They will be discussed at a joint meeting with the Planning Commission and an urgency ordinance will likely follow by the end of the year. 

  • The council repealed pandemic-related emergency orders that allowed restaurants, retail and services to temporarily expand into public and private common areas. 

  • Until the last meeting with Clovis Unified School District, the council regularly had few to no public comments during meetings. At this meeting, the council heard from seven people speaking against Covid vaccine requirements, several belonged to the conservative group, Liberty Coalition.

The Scene

The Clovis City Council meeting took place on Oct. 18, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. The meeting was made available via Webex and YouTube Live. The agenda no longer states that face masks are required for those who attend in person due to COVID-19 and none of the council members wore face masks. 

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)

Ashbeck led the council in the Pledge of Allegiance. 

A presentation was made by Shawn Miller and Mykel Suntrapek recognizing participants of the 2021 Children’s Business Fair, which took place Sept. 25 during Clovis Fest in Old Town Clovis. Suntrapek said it was the first annual fair and they had 52 young entrepreneurs participate at the all-day event. More than 20 children, only a few wearing masks, were introduced and posed for a photo with the council. 

Ashbeck then presented a proclamation declaring Oct. 2021 as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) awareness month. A doctor was present in council chambers and said it was, “as simple as the A, B, Cs, that children should be alone, on their back and in a crib.” 

Whalen then read a proclamation declaring Oct. 2021 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. He said 9,000 calls for domestic violence were received in Fresno County last year.  Clovis Police Chief Curt Fleming thanked the Marjaree Mason Center and said too often, domestic violence ends in tragedy as it did recently in Clovis

From there, the meeting was open for public comments:

  • Eric Rollins was in council chambers. He said he was a business owner and a leader for the Liberty Coalition and said there were several members in the audience. He said he thought requiring vaccines and passports was “absolute tyranny.” He asked where the council stands regarding “medical tyranny” and said he speaks on the radio weekly. 

  • A man named, Joe, was also in council chambers and spoke against the Covid vaccine.

  • Another man in council chambers said he lives in the County adjacent to the City, where a pipe was damaged by Woodside Homes. Now, due to a question in property ownership, no one has access to fix the damaged pipe and a block wall is going up that will block access completely. 

  • A woman was in council chambers and spoke about a “shielding approach” she said she found on the CDC website. She said it was removing sick people and putting them in camps. 

  • A man named, Steven Bricker, was in council chambers and spoke about the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). He said the average vaccine takes 13 years to develop and the Covid vaccine took less than one year. He said that people should take the D-dimer test to check for microscopic blood clotting. 

  • A woman named Elin spoke about freedom. 

  • Bill Lurch was in council chambers and said he lived in Fresno, but has lived in Clovis. He spoke against Covid vaccine requirements. 

  • A woman was in council chambers and said “shots are not a cure.” 


  • Approved minutes from Oct. 4 meeting

  • Received and filed investment report for June 2021. 

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

  • Approved a resolution of intention (ROI) to annex territory at Gettysburg and Highland Avenues to the community facilities district and authorized the levy of special taxes therein, as well as setting public hearing for Dec. 6, 2021. 

  • Approved a ROI to annex territory on Willow and Nees Avenues and Nees and Armstrong Avenues to the community facilities district and authorized the levy of special taxes therein, as well as setting public hearing for Dec. 6, 2021. 

  • Approved amending the city’s classification plan by revising the police lieutenant, police captain and police chief classifications to reflect the job duties, current license, education and experience required. 

    • The agenda noted that these revisions were necessary in order to comply with AB 846, which requires that peace officer job classifications “deemphasize paramilitary aspects of the job and place more emphasis on community interaction.” 

  • Approved the execution of certifications and assurances for the FY 2021-22 California SB1 state of good repair program. 

    • The city is eligible for $20,677 in grant funding to rehabilitate and modernize local transit systems.

    • “Replacement of two outdated boilers in the fleet has already been completed, and the replacement of two heavy-duty vehicle lifts will commence once an adequate level of funding has been received through multiple year allocations.” 

  • Approved acceptance of completion for Peach Avenue street widening, overlay and pavement rehabilitation project from Escalon to Fremont Avenues.

    • The final contract cost was $814,648 to contractor, AJ Excavation, Inc.  

  • Approved final map for a Granville Homes subdivision in the southeast area on Shepherd and Temperance Avenues. 

    • The subdivision will consist of 55 planned residential units on 18.44 acres and a trail, including bollard lighting, landscape, benches and trash receptacles. 

  • Approved annexation of the aforementioned tract to the landscape maintenance district no. 1. 

  • Approved amending the development code relating to housing development project standards and procedures, density bonus provisions, accessory dwelling units approved “by right” and review procedures. 

    • City Planner Dave Merchen presented the item. 

    • In Dec. 2019, the council adopted an urgency ordinance to amend the code, which has been extended twice and is now set to expire on Dec. 14, 2021. 

    • Density Bonus-Merchen said the city has only ever approved one density bonus project, which was the Butterfly Gardens project. 

    • ADUs-Merchen said the changes make it easier to construct ADUs and Junior ADUs. He said anything that is 800 square feet with 16 foot maximum height and four feet side and rear setbacks is always allowed. 

      • No replacement parking requirements can be required if garages/carports are converted for ADU/JADU use. 

      • He said developers are interested in them and he’s seeing “growing interest.” 

      • Mouanoutoua asked about plumbing for ADUs and if it’s being considered. Merchen said it’s not being discussed at a local level, but that a separate plumbing off the home’s main line is allowed, but he’s not sure if there’s enough interest for it to come from the street sewer line. 

      • Merchen said that 1,200 lots could see development under SB 9, including ADUs. 

      • Ashbeck asked what the review process is like and verified that neighbors don’t have to ask for permission from neighbors. She was told they would be approved “by right” as long as they meet the correct measurements. 

      • Merchen said if an ADU did not meet requirements (over height or setbacks too small) , it would have to be reviewed by the Planning Commission and a few could come to the council. 

      • Whalen asked if SB 9 and SB 10 would require amendments by the city. Merchen said they most likely will have an urgency ordinance to address them before the end of 2021. 

      • Mouanoutoua asked about a sentence that refers to “non-conforming conditions.” Merchen said it would refer to an existing building with a structure that doesn’t meet guidelines and that the city and county would not be able to “preclude issuance of ADU permits.” 

    • Applications & procedures-Merchen said procedure has been added for filing a preliminary application and streamlined application process. 

    • Low barrier navigation centers-temporary living facilities while individuals experiencing homelessness transition into permanent housing

      • Requirements and procedures for “by right” development of low barrier navigation centers are added. Centers are allowed in areas zoned for mixed use and nonresidential zones permitting multifamily uses. 

      • Bessinger asked what if a group decided to purchase a strip mall and put in bunks to house homeless people, would they need to have certain restroom facilities? Merchen said he’s not entirely sure, but because it’s a commercial zone it may not conform. 

      • City Manager Luke Serpa said it does not waive fire code and building code restrictions so they wouldn’t be able to house people in an unsafe building. 

    • Objective standards-new chapter added, ministerial process for projects meeting certain criteria added, provisions to implement objective design criteria are incorporated. 

      • For applicable multi-family projects, limits appeals to fact-based appeals by applicant. 

Minor amendments addressing residential district land uses and permit requirement are made to remove conflicts. 

  • New state requirements SB 9 not included. Further discussion will occur at joint meeting with the Planning Commission in December 2021. 

  • The Planning Commission considered the ordinance at its Sept. 23, 2021 meeting and voted 3 to 1 to adopt the amendment, with Comm. Cunningham voting in opposition due to state mandates and Comm. Antuna was absent. 

  • Proposed amendments will “permanently” incorporate provisions of urgency ordinance previously adopted with some changes and are required to allow the City to comply or conform with state law. 

  • Ashbeck asked what would happen when a developer presents a map and development, what is referred to as a “concession” or “amenity.” She asked if they were park benches and trash cans. 

    • Merchen said the code on density bonus says that if they have an affordable housing project with at least 10% affordable housing, they could ask for lower parking ratios or reduced setbacks in exchange for providing affordable housing. 

    • Ashbeck clarified that “density bonus, concession and incentives” are not synonymous. 

  • Mouanoutoua said, “This is not Clovis, but someone pays enough, you overlook a process, it’s done, there’s no recourse. At least with us, there’s recourse, we get paid off.” 

    • To which, Ashbeck said, “Let’s please not let the public record reflect that you just said, ‘we get paid off.”  

    • Mouanoutoua responded saying that if you get paid off, the FBI is going to come after you so there’s recourse for that. But without it, he asked where is the potential without oversight over the process.

  • Whalen clarified that what the state is doing is making it less transparent when it’s ministerial. 

    • “When there’s less transparency there is an opportunity for people to think that something funky may be going on when an open meeting and a transparent process like we have in the City of Clovis there is less opportunity for that kind of shady business going on,” he said. 

  • Flores said now there won’t be any public meetings or discussion on these items. He asked what would happen to Clovis if they vote against this. 

    • City Attorney Scott Cross said that they have to process applications that meet the state guidelines so those developers could sue the city if they didn’t allow them. 

    • Flores went on to say that very few people will have the funding to bring this type of development here because the state isn’t offering any incentives. 

  • Ashbeck said it could be interesting if developers start to see ADUs as a way to profit from them. 

  • Flores asked for a motion and joked saying “just say no.” 

  • It was unanimously approved. 

  • “We have to do this ladies and gentlemen, whether we like it or not,” Flores said. 

  • Approved a request to rezone 3.48 acres from the single-family residential zone district to single-family medium density zone district and approved a tentative tract map for a De Young Properties 18-lot subdivision south of Shaw Avenue between Leonard and Agua Dulce Avenues. 

    • Lily Cha presented the item. 

    • Minimum lot size of 5,516 square feet and maximum lot size of 9,140 square feet. It will be a standards cul-de-sac street. 

    • Mouanoutoua said he had no issues with the project but had concerns about the trail continuance along Shaw Avenue and crossing at Leonard Avenue before going back to Agua Dulce Avenue. 

      • Cha said they will have signs, a thematic bollard and will continue to work on trail identifying features to ensure people don’t lose the trail. 

    • A resident of the neighboring Lennar development was in council chambers and expressed concerns about there being only two entrances into the neighborhood. 

    • Brandon De Young of De Young Properties as on the Webex and spoke about the project. He said it was a straight forward project with an unsubstantial impact on the neighboring community with only 18 homes. 

    • Bessinger thanked the citizen for attending the meeting and commenting on the project. 

    • Ashbeck also said she appreciated her comment. 

    • Flores also thanked her for her comment, but said it was essentially too late because they were not going to allow it to exit to Shaw Avenue. 

  • Denied implementation of AB 361, which amends the Brown Act effective immediately to allow legislative bodies of local agencies to continue to meet remotely during declared emergencies under certain conditions. By not adopting it, council members would need to post their location publicly in order to attend remotely. 

    • City Attorney Cross presented the item. 

    • Cross said dozens of legislative bodies have not returned to meeting in person and have continued to only meet remotely. 

    • The only benefit to implementing AB 361 is to easily allow council members to participate remotely. 

      • Without it, they would have to post there remote location and allow members of the public access if they wanted to join from their location.

      • The public wouldn’t see any difference if implemented AB 361, but if it is adopted and there is a technical disruption they can’t continue to take any action until the remote access is restored.    

    • Not implementing AB 361 requires the city to comply with the Brown Act as written prior to the pandemic. 

    • Flores asked if one of them tests positive for Covid and can’t attend the meeting, what would happen. 

      • Cross said he would be required to not attend the meeting physically so he could be absent or if they know a few days in advance, they can post his location publicly and he could attend remotely. 

      • Cross said they could also wait to adopt AB 361 until it is needed. For example, if they need to attend remotely in the future, it could be the first item on the agenda at that meeting. 

    • Cross said the Webex is not going away, it is staying the same. The difference is only for council members and their ability to participate via phone or Webex. 

    • A member of the public commented and told Flores that since he is vaccinated, unless he is showing symptoms, he will not have to quarantine. 

    • Whalen said he was concerned about adopting AB 361 due to the possibility of litigation due to technical issues experienced by the public that they could be unaware of when decisions are made. 

    • Mouanoutoua said that meetings are for the public. He said he prefers seeing people in person or on video rather than just on the phone. 

    • Mouanoutoua also clarified that if the declared emergency ends, then the AB 361 options would end as well. 

    • Flores said he is “very proud that they never really closed their doors” and allowed the public in to address them during meetings for the duration of the pandemic. 

  • Approved a resolution in opposition to Pacific Gas & Electric’s June 2021 general rate case filing to California Public Utilities Commission requesting rate increases of an average of 19% from 2023 to 2026 for all customers and 22% for residential customers. 

    • Serpa said these rate increases burden Valley customers more. 

    • Flores left his seat and Ashbeck led the meeting from this point. 

  • Approved a request to repeal emergency orders 2020-14, allowing restaurants to temporarily expand into public and private common areas, and 2020-15, which allowed for retail and service in public and private common areas. 

    • Presented by City Manager Luke Serpa. 

    • Serpa said Colton’s is the only one still operating a large patio under the emergency orders. He said they and the property owner would have to allow them to use the property in that way. 

    • Whalen said he thought 559 was also operating under the orders. But Serpa said in Old Town they allow for a sidewalk dining permit, so they would be allowed to continue. 

    • Ashbeck said she received an email from 559, but couldn’t tell what they meant. She was told that they wouldn’t be able to continue operating in the street. 

Flores opened the meeting for comments by City Manager Luke Serpa. Serpa gave an update on COVID cases and shared a chart showing a downward trend. 

Flores then opened the meeting for council comments:

  • Whalen said they continue to get state mandates and last week they talked about “what hill we’re going to be dying on.” He said he knows that they are a “general law city” and given the authority to govern given that they continue to comply with state law. 

    • He said they are going to be asked to not comply with state laws and it would be helpful for them to know exactly what would happen if they choose to not comply. 

    • “I would like to know how to answer those who ask ‘why aren’t you fighting Sacramento on that?” he said. 

The council moved into closed session at 8:43 p.m. to discuss the employment of the city manager and conference with labor negotiator. Flores said they did not expect to have anything to report back, but a press release was issued the next day about the decision to hire the current Assistant City Manager John Holt to replace Serpa when he retires at the end of the year.

The next meetings will be Nov. 1, 8 and 15. 

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

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