Documenter: Ramiro Merino

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Elsa Mejia won the Special Elections for the District 5 seat. She was sworn into office at the Council meeting. 

  • Councilmember Anita Evans was elected as the new Mayor Pro Tem.

  • The Council voted to approve the Cannabis Business Permits, which considers the number of cannabis business permits allowed, the procedure guidelines and criteria, and fees of $10,551.50 for the application process. 

  • The Council approved the adoption of the resolutions, which would adopt the boundary map and declare the intent to annex lands into CFD 2005-1, which would bring in an estimated annual revenue of $30,68.28.

  • In the National Opioids Settlement, the City of Madera is eligible to receive approximately $612,786, which has to be spent over the course of an 18 year period and follow other specific criteria. 

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, Council Member for District 1

  • Jose Rodriguez, Council Member for District 2

  • Steve Montes, Council Member for District 3

  • Anita Evans, Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem Elect for District 4

  • Elsa Mejia, Council Member Elect for District 5 

  • Artemio Villegas, Council Member for District 6

The Scene

The Madera City Council meeting was called to order at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, December 1, 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 seven council members, which includes Mayor Santos Garcia, Councilmembers Cece Gallegos, Jose Rodriguez, Steve Montes, Anita Evans, Artemio Villegas, and Councilmember Elect Elsa Mejia. The invocation was led by Councilmember Anita Evans. 

Council Reorganization

Declaring the Results of the 2021 Special Municipal Election and the Performance of the Ceremonial Oath of Office

City Clerk Alicia Gonzales reported “A Special Municipal Election was duly held on November 2, 2021 for Council District 5. The Madera District 5 Election results are as follows: Elsa Mejia with 383 votes, Matilda Villafan with 241 votes. Elsa Mejia was voted in as the District 5 Council seat.” The following are written public comments submitted to the City Clerk, which were read out loud. 

  • “I have been a resident of Madera for 10 years. I want to congratulate Elsa Mejia in being elected to represent Madera’s District 5. I am excited to have an advocate for hardworking families and their needs, such as affordable housing, worker’s rights and women’s rights. During her campaign, her transparency and outreach created an energy of grass root organizers from our community that got people involved in our local politics, some for the first time. I am excited to see her involvement in the City Council. Her experience and accessibility make her an excellent addition to the team.” 

  • “Glad to see Elsa Mejia in the chair.”

  • “Very happy to have a representative who shows up for her people. Congrats to Elsa Mejia.” 

Three Madera residents stated the following during public comment: 

  • “We need leaders not in love with money but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity but in love with humanity. That is exactly what Elsa stands for. It has been an honor working with many advocates who for the first time ever got involved with local politics. I am very proud of everyone who stepped up and got involved with local engagement and supported someone like Elsa. For many years, indigenous people have been neglected and belittled, many times from those we least suspected from. Now we have a voice and not just any voice but a powerful voice that reflects the humble and intellect community that is filled with hopes and dreams. Elsa, you are a very special person. You ignited a lot of passion behind a lot of us. And no matter the obstacles, you still continued to lead us in a very positive way. Adelante creando luz, forward creating light.”

  • “I was trying to reach many Council members. I spoke to some of you because I was homeless. One thing I want to bring up is more low income housing for residents. The vouchers that were given out were not enough. Elsa knows a lot that is going on in my life and with others in the area. Police discrimination needs to be addressed. I will continue to speak out about issues like this because I will make sure I am heard. Blessings to you all.”

  • “I have a close relationship with the Miteco community. I am a teacher at Thomas Jefferson. I was very impressed when I heard someone running because I think the Mixteco community needed a voice in Madera. Congratulations Elsa, I know you will do a great job. God bless you and god bless all of you.”

Councilmember Elect Elsa Mejia said “We have been underrepresented for a year. But now we have been heard. Thank you to all of the volunteers who stayed by our side. I am very grateful for all of you. I don’t want this to be the last time we hear from you. This is our City and we have a right to be heard.” She also gave a speech in Spanish.

Consideration of Selection of Mayor Pro Tem to Serve a One-Year Term

City Clerk Alicia Gonzales said “Resolution No. 12-210, which you all have a copy of, states that the City Council will select, at its first regular meeting in December, one of its members to serve as Mayor Pro Tem. Councilmembers Anita Evans and Elsa Mejia have not yet served as Mayor Pro Tem. However, Councilmember Evans has served on Council the longest without being Mayor Pro Tem, therefore this qualifies her to serve.” The Council unanimously voted to elect Council member Evans as Mayor Pro Tem for the new term. Mayor Pro Tem Elect Anita Evans said “I am now the first African-American female to sit as Mayor Pro Tem. Thank you to each and every one of you. Congrats Elsa you rock. Thank you all and God Bless.”

Public Comment

Two Madera residents spoke during public comment and said the following:

  • “For future meetings, I ask if a special consideration can be made for those who do not speak English. We have a lot of Spanish speakers who do not speak English.” 

  • “Congratulations for the continued diversity and leadership. Thank you Anita and Elsa for continuing to uplevel your leadership. As a woman of color, I acknowledge the hardships you had to encounter to be where you are at. I thank you for shaping and shifting the next generation of leadership.”

Written Communications

There were no written communications presented. 


There were no presentations. 


There were no workshops. 

Consent Calendar

The Council unanimously approved all four items on the consent calendar as presented. 

  • (1) Minutes – May, 5, 2021

  • (2) Informational Report on Register of Audited Demands

  • (3) 2021 Downtown Christmas Light Parade Entry Form for City Council Participation

  • (4) Adoption of Updated Salary Schedule

Public Hearing

There was no public hearing. 

Petitions, Bids, Resolutions, Ordinances, and Agreements

Cannabis Business Permits – Consideration of Number of Cannabis Business Permits, Procedure Guidelines and Review Criteria, and Fees

City Manager Arnoldo Rodriguez reported “This is our 15th meeting to discuss cannabis. This specific item was initially discussed on August 4, September 1, and November 17. At the latter meeting, Council requested that this item be presented at this evening’s meeting for consideration. It is noted that while the Municipal Code outlines how licenses would be allocated, it also requires the Council adopt, by resolution, the procedures to govern the application process, the procedures by which decisions shall be made regarding the issuance of any commercial cannabis business permit, and application renewals for a commercial cannabis business permit. This item is regarding the application process.”

“Staff is recommending that cannabis businesses permits be separated into three distinct categories, which are standard applications for microbusiness, social equity applications, and vertically integrated, cultivation, distribution, manufacturing, and test lab applications. Expenses associated with the operation and administration of the cannabis regulatory program are built into commercial cannabis permit fees. The fees are based on a reasonable estimate of costs, including staff time, necessary to provide these services. The total fees for the application process is $10,551.50. To determine individual application fees, the cost recovery analysis assumes the City will receive at least 20 applications for cannabis permits. Based on the size of the City and number of permits available, 20 applications appear reasonable.”

Mayor Garcia opened the meeting to public comment, which are the following: 

  • “Obviously it is not cheap but we are prepared. We just want to have a fair shot at this. We are not big dogs, but we are business owners and we have a lot of experience running businesses. We want to show that we are here for our people and here to stay.”

  • “I want to congratulate Elsa for winning the District 5 seat. I work for a technology repair center. We need to get the ball rolling. I would suggest looking into modifying the requirements and making it two out of the three. I agree with the last two speakers. We should not reward people for being convicted. “

The Council discussed their thoughts on this matter: 

  • Council member Rodriguez said “This has been a lengthy conversation, thank you Arnoldo for presenting this. I heard a lot about districts needing additional funding to improve those areas. This moment is also historic because Madera will be accepting this alongside other cities across California.”

  • “The criteria is that the way it is presented to you, it can be modified at the local level. In order to meet the requirements for state funding, you will need to meet criteria set forth so if you change it to help the people you are serving then the City will not qualify for state funds.”

  • Mayor Garcia said “I don’t believe only setting up two permits is enough. It hurts people of color. For example, for vertical integration, that is unlimited. We are limited to the residents of Madera. If you have been arrested before, you should still be able to apply for this. There are opportunities for actual corruption. We are not transparent in this area because the City Council is not directly voting for those businesses to receive permits so I vote not in favor of this.”

  • Council member Montes said “We can modify the requirements as we receive applications and notice that we are not receiving a lot. For vertical integration, it is very stringent. Businesses have to meet and maintain the requirements at all times. With ethics, I do not think this will be a problem.”

With no further discussion, the Council voted 5 yes, 2 no. Mayor Garcia and Council member Villegas opposed this item. 

Initiation of Proceedings for the Annexation of the Omni Subdivision into Community Facilities District 2005-1

Gary City Planner reported “The purpose of CFD 2005-1 is to levy an annual special tax to finance police protection services, fire protection and suppression services, park maintenance, and storm drainage system operation and maintenance. A Citywide CFD formed for the purpose of funding the gap between the revenue generated by new development and the cost of delivering the services desired. Fiscal analysis identified impacts of new development on the General Plan. The initial annual assessment was $311 for a single-family home, growing to $499.48 in 2021/22. The tax is deposited into the General Fund, since impacts are specific to the General Fund. Police services received 60% of the funds, at $268,091.66. Fire services received 25% at $111,704.86. Park/storm drain maintenance received 15% at $67,022.92. The area in question was approved in 2019. The parcel has 61 single family lots on 10 acres. For this particular annexation, with 61 family units taxed at $499.48 per dwelling unit, the estimated annual revenue is about $30,468.28. Staff recommends the adoption of the resolutions, adopting the boundary map and declaring the intent to annex lands into CFD 2005-1, allowing for the process to continue toward the special election and annexation into the CFD on January 19, 2022.” With no further discussion, the Council voted unanimously to approve this item. 

National Opioids Settlements

City Attorney Hilda Montoy reported “This is a complicated matter as evidenced by the almost 1,000 page document presented before you. This involves a litigation that has been going on for years, which was initiated by cities, counties and numerous states in the country. There are tentative settlements, with two groups of defendants. The first are the distributors for an amount of $21 billion nationally and the manufacturers of opioids for $5 billion. These settlements have a trickle down effect on cities and counties but only if critical mass is achieved. Settlements require that a critical mass of cities, counties and local governments opt in into this process by January 2, 2022. We are very close, this came on really quickly as far as procedures. There are 3 pods, where 15% go to a state fund, 70% go to local government, and 15% go to litigating local government. There are cities and local governments who participated in the litigation so they get a little extra, including Fresno County. At this time, the population is a small threshold. Another factor is how opioids affect your particular entity. Based on these formulas, the best case allocation for the city of Madera is $612,786. The amount has to be spent over an 18 year period. There are very specific requirements on how this money can be spent. In addition to the money, the manufacturers and distributors are also subject to what is called injunctive relief. It’s not only impacting their pocketbook, but also impacting their conduct as far as how they market and how they distribute the opioids. It’s not just money, there is a penalty for future conduct. By agreeing to this, you also give up your ability to issue your own litigation.” With no further discussion, the Council voted unanimously to approve this item. 

Administration Reports

There were no administration reports. 

Councilmember Reports/Announcements/Future Agenda Items

  • Council Member Gallegos: “Madera Lady Lions, which I am a part of, will be putting on the Candlelight Christmas Parade and starts at 6 p.m. Hopefully we see you all tomorrow night.” 

  • Council Member Rodriguez: “The Greater Madera Kiwanis is trying to bring back the Fourth of July Fireworks Show at the district fair. This is in partnership with other service clubs. It has not been confirmed yet. We are trying to get everyone to agree on the venue. Is it still necessary to do roll call when we are meeting in-person, or is that the prerogative of the Mayor or the prerogative of Council?”

  • Council Member Montes: “Welcome aboard to our newest Council member. It is evident to see how many people showed up today since when you are not here, we have like two people and it’s usually my mom and dad.”

  • Council Member Evans: “Congratulations to our council, we are completely full now and this is great. I want to give a shout out to the City for Adelle and Lake Street are open. People are using it and it is beautiful. Next Wednesday, I have Lunch with a Council woman. There are young people here who have told me they have never had a Happy Meal, they have never had a cheeseburger from McDonalds. I want you all to know this is the season of giving, the season of love. If you want to participate, please join us.”

  • Council Member Elsa “Thank you to everyone who joined us tonight. Thank you to the students at MadTech for having me speak. We have a Community Workshop on redistricting on Saturday at the John W. Youth Center at 10 a.m. redistricting meeting coming up this Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m. We will have interpretations at the meeting.”

  • Council Member Villegas: “Congratulations to Elsa Mejia and Anita Evans. We had two food giveaways in the past couple of weeks, which is good because people got some food.”

  • Mayor Garcia: “Madera Ford is giving away 200 bikes for children on Saturday, December 18 at 10 a.m. If you would like to volunteer to put the bikes together, you can volunteer on Saturday, December 11 at 10 a.m. This is first come, first serve. I will be taking a much needed vacation. My wife and I will be traveling out of the country. I will be missing a meeting but I will be back in January for sure.”

Closed Session

There was no closed session.


With no further discussion, Mayor Garcia adjourned the City Council meeting at 7:33 p.m. 

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