Documenter: Joeanna Lopez

Here’s what you need to know

  • Mendota City Council adopted Resolution 21-88, transitioning City Council meetings to in-person participation and ending virtual attendance service offerings.

The Meeting (in full)

The Scene

Mendota is a general law city governed by an at-large elected five-member City Council and operates under the council-manager form of local government, according to the City’s website.

The Mendota City Council meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. at 643 Quince Street, Mendota, CA 93640 and via Zoom.

The Zoom audio and video were connected through an iPad. There were up to 28 participants joining the meeting via Zoom throughout the night.

Mendota City Council Board Members

Rolando Castro, Mayor

Jesus Mendoza, Mayor Pro Tempore

Jose Alonso, Council member

Joseph R. Riofrio, Council member

Oscar Rosales, Council member (not present)

Call to order at 6:02 p.m. by Mayor Castro, flag salute led by the Lieutenant and the invocation by Catherine Montejano.

Motion to finalize the agenda with no adjustments carries, 4 aye.

Chief of police Smith then asks if they can go just a little bit out of order as Axon presenter Travis Cole asks to share his screen and he is allowed, continuing with his powerpoint presentation about the Axon Body 3 camera. 


  1. The Axon Company to provide a presentation on body worn cameras and tasers.

  • Combines the tasers, cameras and storage. Dock the battery and it recharges, checks for any firmware updates and uploads any firing logs to, a very streamlined process as Cole describes it.

  • Mayor Castro’s first question is what is the total cost for 5 years.

  • $159 a month per officer, roughly for 16 officers that’s $30,000 a year for 5 years about $150,000 in total which is compared to a million dollar use of force lawsuit in the grand scheme of things.

  • Cole continues with the benefits of and the technology of the taser when built into the package deal. Castro responds, “we are 100% pro police,” before asking about the potential of grants.

  • Riofrio asks who Fresno City College is using for body cameras and Cole responds that he can send the information to Chief Smith as he does not know at the moment and it was not made clear why councilor Riofrio asked that specifically.

  • No public comments or questions.

  • Chief Smiths says he plans to put a resolution before the council at the next meeting.

  1. Chief of police Smith to introduce community service officers Yvonne Sandoval and Timothy Hernandez Police Lieutenant Ramiro Rodriguez.

  • Chief Smith introduces the service officers with brief bios for each. They all addressed the council as well. 

  • The new Chapel Robert Salinas, not on the list, is also introduced.

  • Photos follow the introductions and the council breaks for recess to do this at 6:53 p.m.

  • The meeting resumes at 7:02 p.m.

  1. The Mendota Carbon Negative Energy Project to present information on the Mendota Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Sequestration Project.

  • Roya Kambin shares their screen and Chris Stavinoha gives the presentation for the BECCS Projects.

  • MCNEP proposes redevelopment of the former Covanta biomass power plant in Mendota into a clean, carbon negative energy plant with near zero criteria pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions, according to the presentation.

  • Mendota resident Ofelia Ochoa makes a live public comment via Zoom. Ochoa says, “estoy preocupada por lo que esta pasando en mi comunidad, estoy preocupada por los proyectos que…” when the Mayor interrupts to ask what her question is in regard to.

  • “Por que se eligio aqui a Mendota? Cual fue la razon?”

  • The geology is said to look promising when looking from 10,000 feet away.

  • Mayor Castro asks what worries Ochoa has and she responds with concerns of quakes and being proactive, “vaya pasar algo mal.”

  • Nayamin Martinez, executive director of the Central California Environmental Justice Network, makes the council aware of the many other pollutants that are not being mentioned, adding that burning biomass is the worst and most dirty energy source.

  • Martinez makes it clear that she is very concerned in particular for the mobile park residents that are really close to the plant.

  • City Attorney John Kinsey addresses Martinez’ concern by making it clear that this is a presentation of just the basics of the project and that he doesn’t want to get too off topic from the agenda but says there will be another opportunity with ample time to make comments.

  • Jasmine Buenrostro works with the Central California Environmental Justice Network and makes a comment via Zoom before going to class making it clear that another polluting project should not be allowed citing how hard the community fought to get the Covanta plant shut down and suggests investing in renewable energy instead.

  • Mayor Castro thanks Buenrostro for their comment and adds that many people lost their jobs by the way.

  • Public comments are closed and the council moves on.

Kevin Romero makes a public comment at the podium about Mendota High football team’s status.

Joseph Amador also makes comments on the agenda and points out that the Porras family is present and asks that the council do something for them.

Ofelia Ochoa once again makes a comment about the concerns about the proposed Biomass and mentions the folks in the trailers.

Mayor Castro answers by saying it was there before and people lived there still and there were lots of jobs and that there’s still time for consideration and to gather more information.

Public comments and addresses are closed and the council moves on.

Approval of Minutes and Notice of Waiving of Reading

  1. Minutes of the special City Council meeting of October 20, 2021 and the regular City Council meeting of October 26, 2021.

  • Mayor Pro Tem Mendoza raises a point about the minutes for public hearing item number 2 but cannot cite where he saw the typo about Rosales who was not present.

  1. Notice of the waiving of the reading of all resolutions and/or ordinances introduced and/or adopted under this agenda.

  • All in favor to approve minutes with the modification and the notice of the waiving of the reading, 4 aye.

  • All in favor to approve Consent Calendar Items 1 through 5 passes, 4 aye.

Consent Calendar

  1. October 10, 2021 through November 1, 2021 warrant list checks Nos. 50997 through 51055. Total for council approval $249,877.02

  2. Proposed Adoption of Resolution 21-89, approving the Second Amended and Restated Memorandum of understanding between the City of Fresno and the City of Mendota and authorizing the City Manager to execute the same.

  3. Proposed Adoption of Resolution 21-90, accepting and filing the Community Facilities District No. 2006-1 Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2021-22.

  4. Proposed Adoption of Resolution 21-91, approving the statement of qualifications submitted by Provost & Pritchard Consulting Group for the engineering services for the Rojas-Pierce Park Expansion Project and other Community Development Block Grant funded projects.

  5. Proposed Adoption of Resolution 21-92, approving the City Manager and Public Utilities Director to be authorized representatives for the State Water Resources Control Board California Water and Wastewater Arrearages Payment Program.


  1. Council discussion and consideration of honoring Daniel “Gordo” Porras.

  • Porras’ brother addresses the council and expresses that nobody wants to come to learn that the field that was named after their deceased brother is no longer named after him due to mishandlings during renovations.

  • City Manager Gonzalez gets up and can be seen pointing a laser away from view to what he says “used to be the field.” Virginia Porras says via Zoom, “I can’t see it.”

  • It is unclear as to what the council cannot figure out but the off camera conversations about locations on the old field continue.

  • Mendoza mentions a ribbon cutting ceremony and that he will never be forgotten.

Virginia Porras makes a public comment; wants to know how long this will take. The council responds citing the city engineer and design work that will ultimately make this happen.

  1. Council discussion and consideration of Resolution 21-88, transitioning City Council meetings to in-person participation and ending virtual attendance service offerings while monitoring public health departments.

The City does not wish to proceed with continuing to provide a Zoom component to supplement in-person attendance. The savings are said to be the obvious prerogative of the City Council in discontinuing some of the Zoom services as the services will continue to be used internally by City Staff.

Mayor Castro claims that meetings have been longer due to Zoom and says that this meeting felt more normal.

Councilor Alonso added he thinks Zoom should be cancelled.

Nobody from the public added any comments.

  • Motion to cease Zoom attendance service offerings, carried 4 aye.

  1. Council discussion and consideration of Ordinance 21-18, approving amendments to Development Agreement No. 2018-01, in the matter of Application No. 20-24, the Left Mendota Ⅰ, LLC Commercial Cannabis Project (APNs 013-280-15 & 22S).

Mayor Castro brings up the concerns that were mentioned at the last meeting. O’neal responds that the air district has no regulatory authority over outdoor cultivation, as it is considered to be agriculture. 

Nobody from the council or public had comments. Motion to carry, 4 aye.

Department Reports and Informational Items

  1. Finance Director

  • Banda reports on the Mendota Internet Connectivity, Project No. 19741-CV funds that need to be dispersed by November 2021. The funding requirement of the applicant to be a U.S. citizen or have legal immigration status was the biggest challenge faced in this; staff is reviewing alternatives to expend the remaining $60,774.15. Alternatives include allocating funding to food pantry, senior citizen meals and personal protection equipment.

  • Staff will be submitting an application to the State Water Resources Control Board for $70,743.47 to assist customers who are 60 days or more past due on their utility bill (only to cover water and wastewater debt).

  1. City Engineer

  • Osborn highlighted that the 2021 Alley Project is underway and should be complete this month. 

  1. City Attorney

  • Kinsey reports on escrow soon to close on a favorable bond. Updates on the abatement saying there will be more to report on in the next couple of months.

  1. City Manager

  • Gonzalez brings to the council’s attention that the contract for translation services will soon expire and he is looking to gauge whether the council is looking to continue with that. He said that in the last fiscal year there were 2 requests. It costs $3,000 a year and said there are definitely benefits to having the services but feels it’s his responsibility to find out whether the council wants to continue with it.

  • Mayor Castro mentions not having Zoom anymore and asks if we can look at prices being that everything is going up.

Mayor and Council Reports and Informational Items

Mayor Pro Tem asks, “Where are we with the Christmas ornaments?” Garland and bows have been ordered and the Christmas trees should be in November 20th.

Celeste Cabrera Garcia continues to provide the update as Mayor Castro and councilor Riofrio converse over her off to the side. 

It is mentioned that there will not be another meeting until December 14. 

Alonso makes a comment about unacceptable dirty restrooms in downtown. Gives thanks to the Chief for the ride along.

Riofrio attended services for Felipe Gonzalez and said it was well attended.

Mendoza wishes everyones a Happy Veterans Day and a Happy Thanksgiving.

Mayor Castro also mentioned the services for Felipe and how nice they were. Promises to catch up with Celeste. Motions to adjourn, meeting ends at 8:58 p.m.

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

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