Documenter: Heather Halsey Martinez

Here’s what you need to know:

  • At its final meeting of the year, the Clovis City Council bid farewell to City Manager Luke Serpa who is retiring after 16 years of service to the city. Current Assistant City Manager John Holt will take on the role and current Community & Economic Development Director Andrew Haussler will be the new assistant city manager effective Jan. 1, 2022. 

  • The council approved 10 items on the consent calendar, including a new $432,000 police armored vehicle, as well as a status report of the Community Facilities District showing that its revenues covered 51% of expenditures. 

  • The council also received an update on Landmark Square construction and soil contamination mitigation measures, ultimately approving an amendment to the CIP budget for the project, increasing it by $3.2 million. Serpa noted the site had been a rail yard decades ago and the soil contamination could stem from that. 

The Scene

The Clovis City Council meeting took place on Dec. 13, 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. Although, California announced a statewide indoor mask requirement that day that goes into effect on Dec. 15. 

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. During roll call, it was noted that Whalen was absent. 

Ashbeck presented a proclamation in recognition of Lenny “Pappy” Papulias’ support of the annual Thanksgiving lunch at the Clovis Senior Activity Center. His supervisor was in council chambers and honored him as well, saying he’s cooked at least 1,114 turkeys over the years. He was also in chambers and said it’s been an honor to serve the community. 

General Manager of the Fresno Irrigation District Bill Stretch presented a resolution by the Board of Directors of the Fresno Irrigation District honoring Luke Serpa for his many years of service. 

“Clovis and FID has always had a strong relationship and it was strengthened when Serpa took over nine years ago,” Stretch said. “Luke’s integrity and willingness to negotiate in good faith with a partnering agency was always important. I never felt like there was going to be a gotcha somewhere…and I totally respect that and try to emulate that.” 

Flores then presented a proclamation honoring City Manager Luke Serpa upon his retirement and commending him for 16 years of service to the Clovis community. 

Serpa thanked the council for having “faith and confidence” in him five years ago. “It truly has been an honor and a privilege to serve an organization like this,” Serpa said. “I know I leave the city in good hands with John taking over.”  

Flores said he had a request to move up item 17 to consider approval of confirmation of current Community & Economic Development Director Andrew Haussler will be the new assistant city manager. Holt said that he was hired in 2006 and promoted several times since. “Andy’s education, experience and can-do attitude make him the unique fit for the position,” Holt said. 

Bessinger said he has always worked well with Haussler and it “always permeates down” to the employees that work for him. Ashbeck made comments that echoed his sentiments. 

“I’m really looking forward to the role and always willing to step up and see what role I can play and serve the city in whatever capacity is needed,” Haussler said. 

From there, the meeting was open for public comments:

  • Rami Zwebti was in council chambers to share their experience as a diabetic student. Zwebti said they feel intimidated, ignored and terrorized by their experience on campus and at school board meetings.

    • Zwebti asked if there was anything the council members could do to help educate Clovis Unified students on the importance of vaccines and the council responded that it was out of their jurisdiction.

    • Ashbeck said that their treatment at the school board was “possibly one of the most shameful things that I’ve seen in this community.” “I thought that your treatment was disgraceful and I’m really sorry that you had to experience that in this community,” she said. 

    • Bessinger thanked them for their letter. 

    • Flores asked what type diabetic Zwebti is.

  • It was noted that additional written comments have been received. 

Before voting on the consent calendar, Flores said he had a financial conflict of interest for item 9 so he pulled it so he could recuse himself. 


  • Approved minutes from the Nov. 15 meeting. 

  • Received and filed the investment report for the month of July and August 2021. 

  • Received and filed the treasurer’s report for the month of July and August 2021. 

  • Received and filed a status report of Community Facilities District 2004-1 Revenues and Expenditures. 

    • According to the agenda packet, the council approved the formation of the district in 2004 to provide funding for public safety operations in new growth areas generally located north of Herndon and East of Locan Avenues. 

    • There were 8,090 parcels assessed in 2020-2021, generating $2.13 million in assessments. 

    • The per unit assessment for 2020-2021 was $260.07 for single family units and $224.55 for multifamily units. 

    • Expenditures for public safety services associated with growth in the CFD area for 2020-2021 were $4.165 million. 

    • In 2020-2021, Community Service District fee revenue covered 51% of the expenditures. 

    • The council established a five-member independent citizens’ oversight committee for the purpose of reviewing revenue and expenditures associated with the district, which will review the status report and provide comment to council only if deemed necessary by the committee. 

  • Approved authorizing the addition of one Senior Information Technology Specialist classification and salary range of $6,028 to $7,326 per month and deleting one Information Technology Specialist position within the Administration Department. 

  • Approved  the purchase of a LencoBearCat, an armored vehicle, and amending the public utilities department fleet capital budget to allocate $431,133 for the purchase. 

    • Agenda states that the city’s current MRAP is experiencing mechanical issues. 

  • Approved second amendment to land tenure agreement with Wildlife Rehabilitation Service extending the deadline for construction by six months. 

  • Approved final acceptance for CIP for Owens Mountain Parkway Extension. 

    • The project involves extending Owens Mountain Parkway, formerly known as Alluvial Ave., beyond the Enterprise Canal. Includes a new roadway, sidewalk, water main and sewer extension and street lights. Contracted costs are $2 million. 

  • Approved a resolution of intention to move forward with the annexation of property at Shaw and Locan Avenues and Shaw and Leonard Avenues to the Community Facilities District and set a public hearing for Jan. 18, 2022. 

    • Flores abstained due to a conflict of interest. 

  • Received an update on Landmark Square construction and soil contamination and approved amending the CIP budget for the project by $3.2 million.

    • Planning & Development Services Director Renee Mathis and City Engineer Mike Harrison presented the item. 

    • Flores abstained from this item because he owns property in the area. 

    • Location of new senior center, transit center and future library. 

    • Update on soil contamination: 

      • Since April 2021, staff has been working with DTSC to ensure future buildings on site are safe. 

      • Only 25% of the work has been completed and it started in February. 

      • Vapor barrier system contract was approved by the council on Nov. 15.

      • City continues to work with DTSC on other monitoring and mitigation recommendations. 

      • The new total project budget will be approximately $23 million. 

    • Mouanoutoua asked what the cause of the contamination was. Staff said it was diesel/gasoline, but they do not know exactly which business is accountable for the contamination. 

      • Serpa noted that it was a railyard and they don’t know what could’ve happened 100-120 years ago. 

    • Mouanoutoua asked about the vapor barrier system. 

      • Harrison said it’s more than just the barrier, it also includes fans and ventilation. 

      • Mouanoutoua asked about ongoing testing. Harrison said it’s a strong possibility that they may need to have an annual monitoring program that involves a state employee visiting. 

    • He then asked about where the money would come from to add the $3.2 million. 

      • Mathis said it is not ARPA funds, it would come from general service, transit and special trust funds. 

    • Ashbeck asked if they just “inherited an ongoing mitigation project” with neighboring residents. 

      • She was told it’s possible. Serpa said he thought it was unlikely, but possible. 

    • Mathis recognized several staff members that have kept the project moving. 

    • Mouanoutoua asked if they foresee this being an issue for the site of the County library. 

      • Mathis said they haven’t asked for anything specific, but they would assist with whatever DTSC deems necessary. 

    • Approved unanimously, Flores abstained. 

  • Approved purchasing furniture for Landmark Square from Core Business Interiors utilizing pricing from a competitive bid award through the County of Fresno. 

    • General Services Director Shonna Halterman presented the item. 

      • She said they can save $30,000 by purchasing the items this year versus next due to a price increase.

  • Approved a change in council meeting schedule, canceling the Dec 20, 2021 and Jan. 3, 2022 meetings. 

  • Confirmed appointment of current Community & Economic Development Director Andrew Haussler as the new assistant city manager effective Jan. 1, 2022. 

Flores opened the meeting for comments by City Manager Luke Serpa. Serpa gave his final update on COVID cases. He said they had a “surprise announcement from the state that they would be reinstituting masking requirements indoors for all regardless of vaccination status.” He said they will not be enforcing it as a city. “It’s going to be a point of contention with some,” he said. 

  • Zwebti commented that during the last school board meeting, they heard the board president say it would not enforce a vaccine mandate. 

    • Serpa said that they don’t have jurisdiction over school board issues and it’s outside the city’s purview. 

In closing, Holt presented options about how they could modify the council chambers and asked for feedback on three options. Bessinger said he liked the full California underneath. Ashbeck and Mouanoutoua said option one or two, while Flores said option 2 with the identifying info of California. 

Flores then opened the meeting for council comments:

  • Mouanoutoua thanked Serpa and Holt for getting recognition for JS Pools. 

  • Bessinger and other council members shared holiday greetings. 

  • Ashbeck said FCTA met last week. 

The council went into closed session at 7:29 p.m. to conference with legal counsel on existing litigation, Charles Wages v. City of Clovis, Worker’s Compensation Appeals Board and two other cases listed as “significant exposure to litigation” and “deciding whether to initiate litigation.”

This was the final meeting for the council in 2021 and the next meeting will be Jan. 10, 2022.

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