Here’s what you need to know:
- Fire Chief John Binaski presented the Clovis Fire Department’s Annual Report for 2021. During the discussion, he stated that developer impact fees and the Community Facilities District fees were not enough to cover its budget, which raised concerns by council members. Later, City Manager John Holt said that significant development impact fee increases will come before the council next month.
- The Clovis City Council approved adoption of a military equipment use policy for the Clovis Police Department pursuant to AB 481. The department’s military equipment list includes a mobile command vehicle, two armored vehicles, a robot, several unmanned aircraft systems, in addition to other equipment that cost approximately $1.36 million.
- The council members also approved appointments to the Planning and Personnel Commissions, including the reappointments of Alma Antuna and Amy Hatcher. Scott Fetterhoff was reappointed to the Personnel Commission and Kari Mercer, Darren Rose and Jerry Schuber were appointed to the three openings on the commission.
At the start of the meeting, four attendees were present via Webex and two were watching live via Youtube at the start of the meeting.
Clovis City Council Members:
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)
Clovis Planning Commission Members:
Paul Hinkle, Chair (also real estate agent with Kellner Properties)
Mike Cunningham, Chair Pro Tem
Whalen led the council in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Mouanoutoua presented a proclamation declaring April 24, 2022 as Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day:
- Mayor Flores said that usually they would applaud, but for this they would hold a moment of silence for all those who suffered then and all who suffer now.
- A man was in council chambers and invited two Armenian church leaders to speak.
- “This means a lot to us as Armenians and humans,” one man said.
- The other said that he was a Clovis resident and that there was a deep sense of validation in their community that they are not alone.
- Bessinger said he is leaving to go to Germany to his dad’s war camp. He said that his dad died when he was 13 and he is the honored POW of the camp. “It’s important for us to do proclamations like this because we’re the only generation that remember,” he said. “There are things happening today that are being denied that we all know are occurring.”
City Manager John Holt recognized and thanked outgoing Personnel Commissioners and announced Mayor Flores’ appointments to the Personnel and Planning Commissions:
- Alma Antuna and Amy Hatcher reappointed to the Planning Commission for four-year terms, which will expire May 2026.
- Scott Fetterhoff reappointed to the Personnel Commission for a four-year term, which will expire in May 2026.
- Due to the expired terms of office for Kari Mercer, Darren Rose and Jerry Schuber that are three openings on the Personnel Commission.
- Mayor Flores recommended the appointments of Eric Zetz, Thomas Klose and James Verros for four-year terms that will expire in May 2026.
- The appointments were approved unanimously by the council.
From there, the meeting was open for public comment and no public comments were made online or in council chambers.
- Approved minutes from the April 11 meeting.
- Approved an ROI to annex property on the northwest corner of Dakota and Highland Avenues and southeast corner of Ashlan and Thompson Avenues to the Community Facilities District.
- Approved amending the city’s FY 2021-2022 Position Allocation Plan by adding one Engineering Inspection position within the Planning and Development Services department.
- Approved adoption of a military equipment use policy pursuant to AB 481.
- According to the agenda, the policy and adopted ordinance will allow the Clovis Police Department to continue to use its existing military equipment in accordance with the new law requirements.
- Chief of Police Curt Fleming and Police Lieutenant Brett Hershberger presented the item.
- The agenda states that within 30 days of publicly releasing the annual report, the Department shall hold at least one community meeting.
- Complaints, concerns or questions may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org, 559-324-2406 or mail to 1233 Fifth St. Clovis, CA 93612.
- The list of items cost approximately $1.36 million worth of military equipment, including:
- A $542,000 mobile command vehicle
- A $149,000 crisis negotiation team vehicle
- Several unmanned aircraft systems costing approximately $78,700
- 40 MM launchers and rounds costing approximately $3,324
- Flash bang distraction devices costing $2,028
- Smoke canisters costing approximately $8,000
- Two armored vehicles, including an MRAP and $431,000 Lenco Bearcat
- Explosive breaching tools costing approximately $5,000
- Less lethal shotguns costing approximately $24,000
- A robot costing $120,000
- Whalen said that he has had people ask about the MRAP.
- Fleming said that he will not be able to purchase any equipment not included on the list.
- Mouanoutoua asked if there was some way to write the code so they are able to purchase equipment without waiting to come before the council.
- Fleming said that if one breaks he can purchase that exact item, but otherwise they have to come back before council.
- The city attorney said that there is some language in the policy that will allow for replenishment, such as ammunition.
- Mouanoutoua asked about what Fleming sees in the streets.
- Fleming said that the MRAP for example can take rifle power and protect people inside in the event of a mass shooting.
- He said it’s always confused him why the public is so concerned about them having the MRAP because it is used as protection.
- “It’s simply a protective tool, it serves no other purpose but to protect us,” he said. “It’s just a vehicle that provides protection.”
- Mouanoutoua asked if the public has a stronger military style arsenal.
- Flores said that what they are doing in Sacramento is tying the hands of law enforcement.
- “We cannot send our officers out there when they know they are going to encounter those types of weapons,” he said. “We need surveillance vehicles.”
- “This is backwards legislation and this governor is an idiot for signing these bills,” he said.
- Ashbeck agreed with Mouanoutoua that there has to be a way to write it in a way that gives Fleming some flexibility to purchase what he needs to do the job.
- Bessinger said that there was a piece he read a while back called the “Militarization of Mayberry,” and that originally he was against it, but now he gets it.
- He said the “hypocrisy disgusts him” and that if there are things out there that would protect the citizens it needs to be used to protect police officers.
- Flores said that three strikes and you’re out was a “beautiful law.” He said now the prisons are empty and we have “all this violence in the street” and cities can’t give the proper equipment to its officers. “It’s a dystopian world we’re living in and California law has got to change,” he said.
- The “abolish the police movement is alive and well and we got to stop it.”
- After approving the new policy/ordinance, Flores thanked Fleming and told him to go “buy a new tank.”
- Approved the salary increase from $1,455 per month to $1,513 per month for city councilmembers to become effective after the November 2022 municipal election.
- City Clerk Karey Cha presented the item.
- Whalen said that he is glad that he is there to vote on this because he thinks it’s important.
- Vong was the long no vote against the raise at the last council meeting and continued to vote against it this time.
- Received and filed the Clovis Fire Department’s Annual Report for 2021.
- Fire Chief John Binaski presented the report.
- In April, the department saw its largest hiring since 1999 with the hiring of ten new firefighters to staff Station 6.
- Fire Station 6 construction began in Feb. 2021, with opening slated for June 2022. It will be the first new fire station since Station 5, which opened in 2006.
- He said in a 10-year period they only replaced two fire engines so now they are needing to replace more engines.
- The department received 7,134 emergency medical calls, 2,082 good intent/service calls, 386 fire, 613 false alarm, 427 rescues/vehicle accidents in 2021 with a total of 10,722.
- Whalen asked if it represented how many times they responded or how many calls they received. Whalen said that what struck him was that only 4% of their calls were for fire. He said that he wants to get the response times down.
- Whalen asked if they could respond in a smaller vehicle to the non-fire incidents.
- Binaski said that the only time he’s really seen it work is for busy fire stations to put in an SUV to also respond to those calls to be effective for cost-dollar analysis.
- Binaski said they really don’t lose response time compared to a fire engine until they enter neighborhoods.
- He said that the developments along Temperance are tough. But they are working with developers to get back on the grid system.
- He said landscaping and cars parking along the sides all hinder their ability to respond quickly, such as Harlan Ranch.
- Response times for EMS were 8:00 and 7:43 for fire.
- “We definitely have increased in response times,” Binaski said.
- Increase of 28 seconds for EMS and decrease of 41 seconds for fire.
- Binaski said that higher densities and narrowing streets, non-linear growth and on-street parking has led to increased response times and the need for fire stations to be built closer together.
- Ashbeck said that she would like to see an assessment so they have it before the BIA comes back and asks for smaller lots.
- Binaski said the department’s responses to the City of Fresno have increased from 605 to 881.
- “We unfortunately are serving their growth area,” he said.
- He said there are 2,684 occupancies in Clovis that qualify for a life safety inspection. The goal is to inspect all occupancy on a biennial basis.
- They have completed 97% of inspections.
- He said Station 4 needs to be remodeled, but Station 2 is their biggest concern because it’s 40 years old without any major interior remodeling or upgrades.
- Many areas are not ADA compliant.
- He said the concern is whether they will still be within the budget for the remodel with inflation.
- He said Station 6 will serve 1,000 calls per year in the Southeast Area, which includes 8,140 single family homes.
- He said it will reduce call times from 11:14.
- He asked if it was ok with the council to move crews in before the ribbon cutting and the council said yes.
- Binaski said challenges for the future include:
- All measurable response times continue to increase at an alarming rate.
- Station 6 brings the department almost back to the number of sworn personnel they had in 2008.
- Current budget for rebuilding Station 2 may not be enough based on the rate of inflation.
- Developer Impact Fees are not keeping up with costs to fund the required Fire Department expansion to service new growth.
- Whalen asked about what was not being funded.
- Binaski said it was both the staffing and the purchase of equipment.
- To which, Whalen said that that is something they need to address.
- Binaski said that without commercial growth and sales tax revenue in some of the residential growth areas, it’s not enough.
- Whalen said that is what the CFD (Community Facilities District) was for.
- “That is a puzzle that needs to be worked through and solved,” he said.
- He said he hopes it isn’t to raise sales tax.
- Binaski said the original CFD number was not enough.
- He used his own community as an example and said it was not high enough.
- Whalen said that they did two things when he first joined the council and it was giving 3% at 50 and Calpers increase.
- Binaski said they really aren’t getting ahead, they are just redistributing their resources.
- Whalen said that is what the CFD (Community Facilities District) was for.
- Ashbeck said that she doesn’t understand enough how the CFD failed for police and fire. “I guess I would like to understand that, “ she said.
- Holt said that the bottom line may be that it started too low and didn’t grow enough.
- “What lessons can we learn from high density neighborhoods, what can we learn from CFD,” she said.
- Ashbeck asked about community hot spots and whether they could identify the sources of anyone with a high volume of calls.
- Binaski said that one particular caller is back calling about losing his asthma inhaler and running out of medicine.
- But said that they are seeing transient, nuisance fires in the wintertime.
- “As those communities age, you definitely see more instances,” he said.
- Bessinger asked when they would hear back from the City of Fresno.
- Binaski said they have a good relationship with them and it may be three years before they have the fire station built, but they will work with staff to get the number of responses down.
- Mouanoutoua asked about ambulance response times.
- Binaski said they have one of the better response times with American Ambulance compared to other counties.
- He said normally fire does get there before ambulance calls, which is what they are trained to do.
- Binaski said there used to be an exchange of money for calls, but it was a mess and it shouldn’t be like that.
- Binaski said it shouldn’t matter who came to the door, but that they are coming to the door, regarding which city or county responds to which calls.
- Binaski said that he is on the CalCities committee and they have a “very narrow view of law enforcement.”
- Ashbeck said that Brad is the officer that responded to her husband’s accident and she visited him on the day of his retirement.
- Flores asked about the status of the training building.
- Binaski said the current building will likely be turned over to a developer to create residential development.
Flores opened the meeting for comments by City Manager John Holt:
- He said that Mike Harrison will come forward with significant development impact fee increases next month.
- Measure C upcoming community meeting on Tuesday, April 19 from 6-8 p.m. They have one each year.
- Request from CUSD pursuing a $10 million grant for astroturf through Patterson’s office. They may want to pass the money through the city and have the city pay contractors.
- Councilmember Bessinger will not be attending the May 2 Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, it’s possible they will reschedule for May 9.
- New chamber signage installed prior to the next council meeting.
Flores then opened the meeting for council comments:
- Mouanoutoua thanked staff for putting Measure C at the forefront. He asked them to also put the info out for the virtual meeting on Friday.
- He asked if staff could also provide input on the short survey.
- Whalen said that he is impressed with the Chiefs. He said the reports that they received about Chief Fleming from the Citizens Advisory Committee and how much they respected him.
- He said that anyone who watched or sat in on the meeting would be impressed by the chiefs.
- Bessinger said he is going to Germany next week and it is a city of 120,000 people, just like Clovis. He said he never heard back from the city when he asked the first time if they wanted to be their sister city. But today, he received another letter back and needs someone to translate it.
- Ashbeck said that she thinks they should also have a sister city in the Valley because other smaller cities could benefit from things they no longer use or need.
The meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m. The next Clovis City Council meeting is May 2, 9 and 16 (noted as a budget introduction.)
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