Documenter: Heather Halsey Martinez

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Clovis City Council moved forward with a pedestrian bridge design contract for $1.2 million, which was first approved in June 2019. Maintaining the contract will move the city closer to achieving the $10 to $18 million pedestrian bridge project over Highway 168 at Owens Mountain Parkway, but they have been unable to secure funding for the construction of the project. 

  • The council also approved 12 items on the consent calendar, including an accounting of developer impact fees for the last fiscal year and a Shaw Avenue widening project and bid award for $12.3 million in Measure C funds to widen the road from two lanes to six lanes. 

  • A street closure request for Old Town events was pulled from the consent calendar due to concerns about the impact of all the weekend street closures on businesses. After much discussion and hearing from a business owner who said it was a hardship, the council approved the request but stipulated that a specific parking lot remain open. 

The Scene

The Clovis City Council meeting took place on Jan. 18, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. The meeting was made available via Webex and YouTube Live. 

Despite a surge in COVID cases and a statewide indoor mask requirement that went into effect on Dec. 15, the agenda no longer states that face masks are required for those who attend in person. Only Ashbeck wore a face mask. Per the direction of the council at the last meeting, more space was added between the council members on the dais. 

Five people were watching live via Youtube and five attendees were present via Webex. 

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 and candidate for Fresno County Superior Court judge)

Drew Bessinger, Council Member (also Chief of Police, Fresno Yosemite International Airport)

Whalen led the council in the Pledge of Allegiance. 

From there, the meeting was open for public comments:

  • Paul Hinkle asked for a few moments of silence for Harry Armstrong who passed away today in 2018. He then asked if someone could look at the intersection of Sierra and Peach, which is a four-way stop. He has noticed drivers run the stop sign. 

    • He said there was an accident on Friday and a car was rear ended and the car was badly damaged. 

    • He said within an hour seven cars had run the stop sign. 

Item number 3 was pulled from the consent calendar. 


  • Approved minutes from the Jan. 10 meeting. 

  • Received and filed the Business Organization of Old Town (BOOT) first quarter report and in turn receives $15,000 according to the 2021-2022 budget. 

  • Received and filed status report of development impact fees for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021. 

    • Agenda includes amounts for each fee, including: 

      • $1.9 million for the Sewer Major Facilities Fee 

      • $6.7 million for the Water Major Facilities Fee for the construction of water wells and related items

      • $2.47 for the Water Front Footage Fee

      • $9.9 million for the Park Acquisition and Development Fee

      • $11.47 street fees

      • $1.07 million Police Department Fee

      • $1.6 million Library Facilities Fee

  • Received and filed investment report for Sept. 2021

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

  • Received and filed investment report for Oct. 2021

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

  • Approved amending the 2021-2022 transit budget to add funds for the purchase of three Ram Promaster Minibuses for $321,865 using the CalACT competitive bid award. 

  • Approved amendments to the Permit Technician Classification in the Planning and Development Services Department. 

  • Approved final acceptance for CIP20-06 Shaw Avenue Street Rehabilitation project costing $1.2 million. 

  • Approved amending the 2021-2022 Community Investment Program budget for Shaw Avenue widening phase 1 from Leonard to McCall Avenues, awarding a contract to Avison Construction, Inc. for $12.3 million. 

    • The project consists of widening Shaw Avenue between Leonard and McCall Avenues from a two-lane rural road to a five- to six-lane urban arterial street. 

    • Includes three lanes eastbound and westbound, bike lanes, raised median and streetlights. 

    • Paid for with Measure C funding, except sewer and water improvements costing $1.7 million paid for from developer accounts. 

  • Approved amending the Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District schedule of drainage costs and fees for 2022-2023. 

  • Approved 2022 street closure requests and a resolution declaring certain events as Old Town Special Events. 

    • Includes closures for 20 events, including the Rodeo Parade, Farmer’s Market and other annual events in Old Town Clovis. 

    • Business Development Manager Shawn Miller presented the item. 

    • Bessinger requested it be pulled because a downtown merchant contacted him and was concerned about the availability of parking for his business during the car show. 

    • Ashbeck said she also got a call, possibly from the same merchant, about the combination of a Saturday closure and parking lot closure. 

      • Miller said the parking lot behind Bobby Salazar’s was part of the request for closure, but it is not needed. 

      • Ashbeck asked if they could remove that parking lot from the request for the event closure. Miller said yes. 

    • Mouanoutoua asked if they could request parking lot closures for any of the events. 

      • Miller said they can, but there are only two events that need closure of that parking lot, which are Clovis Fest and Big Hat Days because there is no way to enter it with the surrounding street closures. 

    • Mouanoutoua asked if there was a way to see the economic benefits of these events. 

      • Miller said staff regularly prepares reports on the economic impact of events. 

    • Flores asked if there is anything they can do about groups that gather in the city at specific locations. 

      • Miller said he’s not sure and Flores scoffed and said they would ask Scott about it. 

      • Miller said that the police department has gotten involved in some things. 

      • Scott said if they are legally parked in public parking spots, it is fine, but if they block traffic then that is an issue and laws would apply. 

    • Bert Liberta, owner of Luna Pizzeria, was in council chambers 

      • He said he was concerned with the hardship on his business and the surrounding businesses because if customers can’t find parking, they won’t come. 

      • He suggested the Rodeo Grounds and the Sierra Vista Mall as alternate event locations. 

      • Ashbeck asked if he could designate the parking spots in front of his restaurant as being for his restaurant only. 

    • Hinkle said that when he was involved with BOOT, they held car shows on Sundays and worked with business owners closely. 

      • He said the closures are difficult for businesses. 

      • He said he is having an event in conflict with one of their events, which will “destroy” his event. 

      • “There are 52 weekends in a year not to interrupt an event that is a tradition in Clovis,” he said. 

    • President of BOOT Cora Shipley was in council chambers. She said that she has tried to work with Liberta for the last three years. 

      • “I understand where he’s coming from, but we try not to interfere,” she said. 

      • She said they are careful not to block the back alley that he uses for pick up orders. 

      • Ashbeck asked if the car show is three days and Shipley confirmed. 

    • Anthony Granata, president of the Hot Rod Coalition, got involved in the Old Town Car Show last year. 

      • He said that he got involved last year to bring a “new, fresh” Old Town Car Show. “Every quilting group, hot rod club wants to be in Clovis,” he said.

      • “If we’re not creating an hour back up line for your restaurant and that’s the average Saturday crowd that’s coming in, let’s talk about that,” he said. 

      • He said that there is a car show in Visalia that weekend too, so there are no “good” weekends to hold events. 

    • Bessinger asked if there were other events impacted by the street closures. 

      • Shipley said for the car show and farmer’s market, they are stuck there for the whole day. 

    • Ashbeck asked Granata if they are done with the street closure by 2:30 p.m.

      • Granata said they were done by 2:30 p.m. last year. 

      • He went on to say that the reason they do three-day shows is because they are the nucleus between Los Angeles and Northern California. 

    • Flores asked if businesses could designate parking spaces as pick up only. 

    • Ashbeck moved to approve the closures with the exception of the parking lot 1 behind Bobby Salazar’s and the council approved. 

  • Approved the annexation of the northeast corner of Shaw and Locan Avenues and Shaw and Leonard to the City of Clovis Community Facilities District for police and fire services. 

    • Declared the results of a special landowner election and recorded a special tax lien for the district. 

    • Flores recused himself because he has a financial interest in nearby property. 

    • Votes unanimous for the annexation. 

    • No public comments were made. 

  • Maintained a design contract for a pedestrian bridge over Highway 168, east of Temperance Avenue and south of Owens Mountain Parkway. 

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

    • Receive and file status update on the design of the pedestrian bridge. 

    • Consider approval of terminating the pedestrian bridge design contract with Biggs Cardosa Associates, Inc. for $1.2 million authorized in June 2019. 

      • The $1.2 million was comprised of federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds. 

      • Originally quotes $ 7 million

      • Mathis said that they knew when it was approved they knew that they would need to reevaluate. 

      • They have been reimbursed $260,000 from CMAQ. 

    • Estimates for the bridge range from $10 million to $18 million. 

    • Four types of bridge options: 

      • Caltrans standard box girder bridge for $10.7 million

      • Two arch bridge for $15.08 million

      • Three arch bridge for $15.1 million 

      • Cable stayed bridge for $17.5 million. 

    • Mathis said they received late correspondence from Dwight Kroll, previous planning director. 

    • Mathis said they have not yet gone out to the public for input on the concepts so one has not been selected. 

    • Planning and Development Services Director Renee Mathis said finding funding will be difficult.  “It will take some comingling of funds to get that kind of money together to finish the project,” 

    • Bessinger said he initially voted no on this project, but he appreciates the work that has been done. 

    • Whalen asked if any option was “shovel ready,” so it can qualify for some funding. Mathis said that option two is, but they would have to have construction documents ready and they don’t have a funding source earmarked for that now. 

      • She said potentially Measure C funding could be an option. 

      • She said no agency has ever received $18 million for a single transportation project. 

    • A man in council chambers said potentially the box girder bridge could be shovel ready. 

    • Whalen asked how quickly they could get the project to shovel ready. Mathis said once they terminate the contract, they will not have a design consultant on board so they would have to go back to the beginning with putting out an RFP for a consultant, which could take two years. 

      • Whalen then asked how long it would take if they go with option two. Mathis said they would have to finish the phase one work and then begin phase two, so the difference would be a few months. 

    • Mathis said the amount of the design will depend on the bridge concept selected. If they went with the cable stayed bridge they would have to spend an approximate $1.8 million. 

    • Whalen said it seems the best case scenario is that Measure C passes and funds the project in some way and then perhaps the Speaker of the House who is “friendly with Clovis” finds some federal funds for the project. 

    • Mouanoutouta asked if these projects always take this long. 

      • Mathis said no, Covid and new staff have delayed the project some. 

      • “I believe this is a complex project,” she said. 

      • Mouanoutoua asked if costs are inflated and if it could potentially go lower with the supply chain changes. 

        • She said there is no inflation factor. 

    • Mouanoutoua said that option 3 “really kills it” because it pays back the CMAQ money of $260,000. 

    • Flores said by terminating the contract, the consultant would “trash” all the work they’ve done. 

    • Bessinger asked about CEQA and NEPA work and how long it is valid. 

      • Mathis said it is good for about five years, unless the project changes significantly. 

    • Ashbeck asked if they could suspend the contract, rather than canceling it. 

      • City Attorney Scott Cross said they have certain deadlines already in the agreement, but they could possibly extend the deadlines two years and keep the contract. 

    • Ashbeck asked if “this is the right vision” and how long it will last. 

      • “I don’t want to just give up on what we’ve done,” she said. “I think if we stop now, it’s done.” “We should at least finish what we’ve started.” “This won’t come back for a decade.” 

    • Whalen said it’s a big ask, “We generally don’t gamble with taxpayer funds.” 

    • Ashbeck asked how they can be best positioned for a council in 10 years to see this happen. 

    • She said Measure C should have a category of funding for projects like this. 

    • Mathis said they would need $1.8 million to complete the design phase of the project, which could come from street maintenance funds. Then they will be looking for $18 million for the project construction. 

    • Whalen said they have the $1.2 million “paid for” as long as they complete the construction within the deadlines. “We’d like to leverage these funds,” he said and that he likes option 2. 

    • Mathis said they just completed some street maintenance work on Shaw, which cost approximately $600,000. 

    • Whalen asked what the annual street maintenance budget is and Mathis said it was approximately $14 million. 

    • Mouanoutoua asked if it includes any parks, trails funding since it is a pedestrian bridge.

      • Mathis said they have discretion for those funds. 

      • But it is funded with developer fees and this project is not included in that program. 

    • Whalen said that development in the northeast could include a development fee for this project. 

    • Bessinger said his big concern was someone listening to the conversation and they say “if you can’t afford to hire cops and we could potentially have to pay back $3 million.” For me, option 3 is the way to go, we cut our losses. I just think it’s fiscally irresponsible to risk $3 million when we’re putting together a committee to discuss police funding at the same time.” 

    • Whalen said he agrees that “the optics are problematic.” 

    • Bessinger then asked if there are funds from lawsuits that they could use. 

      • Holt said that there is money that could be loaned and would have to be repaid, but it is $18 million and they committed $9 million to a firehouse project. 

    • Flores said the bridges are “beautiful,” but “there will be optics and they’ll be negative.” 

    • Ashbeck said that they should remember Dr. Buchanan, “We’re too cheap to be cheap.” 

    • “How do we fulfill our original promise to get people from here to there,” Ashbeck said. 

      • Mathis said there is a pedestrian pathway now under the overpass. 

    • No public comments were made. 

    • A design consultant was in council chambers and said that she appreciates the amount of thought they were giving it. She said another city she witnessed has been able to secure funding for the design and construction. 

      • She said a Caltrans bridge doesn’t have to be ugly. 

      • Whalen asked about Sundial Bridge in Redding. 

        • She said it was one of a kind and was expensive at that time. “It basically made that city a place where visitors go,” she said. 

        • “It made that city a place to go and see,” she said. 

      • Flores said it could be a “reason why people come to Clovis.” 

      • Mouanoutoua asked her if she sees difficulty in being built by 2025. 

        • “Bridge projects do take a long time,” she said. “CMAQ probably will give you more time.” 

      • Mouanoutoua asked what role COVID played in delaying the work. 

        • She said it didn’t delay it all because a lot of them were working remotely prior to COVID. 

    • Whalen moved to continue the design contract with Biggs Cardosa Associates, Inc. to complete the phase one work. Then they would come back to the council to make a decision to terminate or move forward with phase two. 

      • Bessinger questioned who they would be questioning for federal funds when we don’t have a federal representative right now. 

      • All council members approved moving forward with the bridge design contract. 

Flores opened the meeting for comments by City Manager John Holt: 

  • Holt provided an update on COVID cases and shared charts showing an increase in cases and hospitalizations/deaths among the unvaccinated. 

  • He said they will push the joint meeting with the Planning Commission to the third week in March due to Omicron. 

  • Regarding the Citizens Advisory Committee, he said they met with CHSU to find a meeting space and should be ready to go next Wednesday. 

Flores then opened the meeting for council comments:

  • Mouanoutoua gave an update from Measure C Committee meetings. He said overall they are making progress, but they need to “get involved and get their voice heard.” 

    • He referred to several advocacy groups in a mocking tone. “They are starting to put several ideas in,” he said. 

    • He said that they are saying that if there isn’t more public input it would be an equity issue, which he said is “slowing things down.” 

    • “I worry because roads are for everyone regardless of the car you drive or how much you make,” he said. 

    • “People never see Clovis as disadvantaged,” he said. “It says that in just about every item.” 

    • “I think we need to start to put the meeting notices on our website so that way our constituencies can start to get engaged,” he said. 

  • Bessinger said the air board has received substantial funding from the EPA, but there is an Assembly Bill that has identified several disadvantaged communities and “a lot of money is being pumped into the environmental justice portion of this.” 

    • He said there is a program called Tune In Tune Up to assist low income individuals get their cars smogged. 

  • Ashbeck said that Mouanoutoua was referring to the Leadership Council, which she said of course their voice matters, but that right now it is the only voice in the room. 

  • Flores referred to the first homicide of the year, a shooting at a store at Shaw and Fowler Avenues recently, which was domestic violence related. “Domestic violence seems to be an issue and the majority are because of that,” he said. 

The meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m. The next meeting will be Feb. 7.

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