Documenter: Heather Halsey Martinez

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Clovis City Council approved a request by Wilson Homes to reduce the acreage in its Shepherd North Sphere of Influence from 1,050 acres to just 155 acres, due to some acreage being identified as potential breeding habitat of the threatened California tiger salamander. The acreage could be considered for development again in the future should a developer express interest. 

  • The council also approved eight items on the consent calendar, including adding an engineering technician position in the planning department, $117,750 grant funding for the police department and $284,101 in change orders for reservoir work being done at the Clovis Surface Water Treatment Plant.

  • The council approved an employment agreement with future City Manager John Holt, which is effective Jan. 1, 2022. His salary will be $18,246 per month, plus benefits including CalPERS, deferred compensation, health, dental, automobile allowance, sick leave and vacation comp time. 

The Scene

The Clovis City Council meeting took place on Nov. 1, 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)

Bessinger led the council in the Pledge of Allegiance. 

From there, the meeting was open for public comments: 

  • A resident named Elizabeth Hale was in council chambers. She commented on a Granville Homes development, which she said has made it feel like like they’ve lived in a construction site since 2019. She said her animals have been disturbed and garbage has littered their property. She said they have also not finished work on their front yard and a barrier. 


  • Approved minutes from Oct. 11 meeting

  • Approved adoption of amendments to the Clovis Development Code relating to housing development project standards and procedures, density bonus provisions, accessory dwelling units approved “by right” and review procedures.

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

  • Approved adding one engineering technician position within the Planning and Development Services Department. 

    • Currently the department is authorized for two of the positions. 

    • The salary and related benefit costs of the change for the remainder of the fiscal year are approximately $55,000. 

  • Approved the Clovis Police Department’s renewal in the State of California Department of General Services Surplus Property Program. 

    • The department has participated in the program for more than 25 years. 

    • Property obtained through the program allows the department to procure items needed at a reduced rate or no cost. 

  • Approved amending the police department’s budget for 2021-2022 to reflect the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control 2021-2022 grant assistant program grant in the amount of $44,750. 

    • The grant is awarded to reduce the number of violations at ABC licensed establishments and reduce minors’ access to alcohol through enforcement and education. 

  • Approved amending the police department’s budget for 2021-2022 to reflect the award from the Office of Traffic Safety Selective Enforcement Traffic Program Grant in the amount of $73,000. 

    • The funds are for overtime operations related to traffic safety, pedestrian education and traffic enforcement. 

  • Approved three contract change orders in the total amount of $284,101 for “urgent structural repairs and recoating work” for the existing steel 2.5 million gallon water storage tank at the Clovis Surface Water Treatment Plant. 

    • Unified Field Services Corporation is doing the work and CSI Services, Inc. will provide professional inspection services for the tank repairs. 

    • The orders address the replacement of roof rafters in the tank that are experiencing severe corrosion, to add dehumidification for additional quality control and to maintain the construction schedule and to provide surface preparation and coating for the entire exterior of the tank. 

    • The approved bid award was in the amount of $676,270. 

  • Approved a request by Wilson Homes to modify the boundary of a proposed amendment to the City of Clovis Shepherd North Sphere of Influence (SOI) reducing acreage from approximately 1,050 acres to just 155 acres, due to it being identified as potential California tiger salamander (CTS) breeding habitat. They also approved amending a consultant agreement between the city and De Novo Planning Group to reduce the area included in an environmental impact report (EIR) and related services. 

    • The amendment will allow for the preparation and submission of an application to the Fresno County LAFCo. 

    • The revised boundary allows the applicant to continue moving forward the development on the approximately 75 acres at the northeast corner of Sunnyside and Shepherd Avenues. 

    • An email from Wilson Homes COO Jeffrey Harris was included in the agenda packet. It states that Kathy Kinsland, senior biologist at Argonaut Ecological Consulting, conducted a preliminary wetland mapping and endangered species survey on approximately 350 acres, located north of the Shepherd and Temperance Avenue intersection. 

      • It states she “specifically identified acres of potential California Tiger Salamander (CTS) breeding habitat and advised the entire balance of the acreage potentially could be classified as CTS upland habitat.”

      • In mid-August, Wilson Homes consulted with Dr. Brent Helm, a premier California Tiger Salamander authority. He noted that prior to developing the land, it would require “drift fence surveys,” which are “very expensive” and “require a minimum of two wet seasons, after obtaining concurrence from the agencies for the scope of the surveys.” 

      • It also notes that it would likely require mitigation for CTS for much of the proposed project area, but that there are “no agency-approved CTS mitigation habitat available.” Because it has all been “previously acquired by the High-Speed Rail Authority.” 

    • Deputy City Planner Ricky Caperton presented the item:

      • He said they received two letters to still be included in the sphere and another letter commenting on it. 

      • The council directed staff to proceed with EIR in March 2021. 

      • The reduction in acreage will reduce costs of the EIR and provides additional time to prepare a Master Plan for the acreage near the Dry Creek Reservoir. 

      • He said they sent out 1,200 to 1,300 notices to nearby property owners. 

        • Received four letters in response. 

      • He said additional neighborhood meetings will be held as part of the process. 

    • Whalen asked about the “rather large homes” that are in the southeast corner of the SOI expansion. He said he’s heard that they may not want to be in the city and was curious if they have heard anything. 

      • Caperton said last year they had meetings with them and it seemed like they “saw the benefit of it for being one step closer to getting water by being annexed.” “I think a lot of them see the value of potentially coming in,” he said. 

    • Mouanoutoua asked if there were other areas that they were looking to grow “where there are these potentials as well.” He said property owners should be educated so if they are farming, they continue farming so that an “endangered species doesn’t come in.” 

    • Ashbeck said it takes a lot of land “out of the mix.” But, that the majority of them thought it was a good idea to cast a wider net. 

    • Mouanoutoua asked about the EIR and VMT. Caperton said they would have to study VMT regardless, but that area that has already been studied won’t have to do another VMT. 

    • Flores said the other area in red on the map and that it was “orphaned” now and said it would be “solely up to Clovis and what our priorities are.” 

      • Caperton said it depends on if another developer comes in and decides it wants to build there in the future. 

      • Flores replied that at the very least, it could be carried with the General Plan. 

    • Dirk Poeschel, principal planner with Land Development Services, was in council chambers and said he was frustrated with the California Environmental Quality Act. He addressed Whalen’s concern about annexing the residents in the southeast corner. 

      • Ashbeck asked what happens if they don’t have two consecutive wet years to do the studies. To which, he said the state would not accept the studies. 

      • Mouanoutoua asked about when land becomes available for mitigation. He said they have to wait and ask. But at that time, they would be required to buy three acres for every acre they are disturbing. 

      • Whalen asked about the replacement land and whether they could purchase another piece of property and use it for a park, as well as mitigation. He said the Harlan family is looking at doing mitigation on their property so that they could bring it to the city and serve regional needs to offset. 

        • Whalen said he might want to buy some property for mitigation at that rate, but added that he was just kidding. 

      • Passed unanimously. 

  • Approved acceptance of work performed as complete for a half mile of street rehabilitation on Clovis Avenue from Alluvial to Nees Avenues. The final contract cost was $602,000 to Dave Christian Construction Co., Inc. 

    • Bessinger owns property within 1,000 feet of the subject property and recused himself. 

    • Mouanoutoua said that he’s never recused himself from projects and asked if the staff would let him know. He was told that it has changed recently from 500 to 1,000 feet. 

  • Approved an employment agreement with future City Manager John Holt, which is effective Jan. 1, 2022. 

    • He shall be placed on step 1 of the salary schedule in effect on Jan. 1, which is $18,246 per month, plus benefits including PERS, deferred compensation, health, dental, automobile allowance, sick leave, vacation comp time, etc.  

Flores opened the meeting for comments by City Manager Luke Serpa. Serpa gave an update on COVID cases and shared a chart showing trends. He shared a chart showing a “double bump” in Covid hospitalizations. He shared a chart showing that those unvaccinated are 6.9 times more likely to get Covid than those who are vaccinated. 

Flores then opened the meeting for council comments:

  • Whalen said he virtually attended the North Kings GSA last week. He said they are experiencing some frustrations about water allocations. He said now there are just two interests discussing water, which is rural and urban. “We fortunately in the City of Clovis are an entity that are in good shape when it comes to sustainability and we are happy to assist those that aren’t when addressing water table issues,” he said. He said he was going to work to ensure that “our neighbor to the west doesn’t act like a hog at the trough that it usually does,” referring to Fresno. 

  • Mouanoutoua said he attended the grand opening of Raising Cane’s, Courtyard by Marriott and a 7-11. He attended a working group that meets every week to bring a recommendation of the general policy committee of the League of California Cities. They are pushing for local laws to prevail. 

  • Ashbeck thanked Flores for attending a Measure C meeting last week. She said they received some constructive feedback and there is another steering committee meeting tomorrow. 

  • Bessinger said he also attended the grand opening of the Courtyard by Marriott. He said it is very well done and he could see residents of the neighboring senior community going there for happy hour. 

  • Flores said he attended the COG meeting last week. 

  • Ashbeck said she saw 100 cars yesterday in the drive-thru at Raising Cane’s. 

The meeting adjourned at 6:56 p.m. The next meetings will be Nov. 8 and 15. 

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