Here’s what you need to know:
- After nearly two hours of discussion and public comments from business owners in support and a few against, the Fresno Planning Commission moved forward an amendment that will allow electrified fencing in more non-residential zones in the city, if it is approved by the city council. The commissioners added conditions that would require there be at least 18 inches between the initial fence and electrified fence and that fences should be at least 500 feet from schools and child care centers.
- Two items were continued to July 6, including a rezone for the former Milan Institute location on Bullard Avenue and a 73-lot residential development on East Church and South Peach Avenues.
Live tweet thread
The meeting (in full)
The Fresno Planning Commission meeting took place on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 at 6:00 p.m. The agenda states that public comments can still be submitted electronically or via Zoom or call in. Meetings also continue to be viewable on CMAC.
Commissioners Vang, Criner, Diaz and Bray were in council chambers. Hardie was present by audio only and Wagner was on Zoom.
Director of Planning & Development Jennifer Clark was also in council chambers.
There were no changes to the agenda.
Vang then opened the meeting for commissioner reports and Wagner wished everyone a Happy Pride month and acknowledged Juneteenth. She said she thinks it is wonderful it’s a federal holiday and hopes everyone takes the time to learn some history.
She also thanked the commissioners for their work at the last few meetings. She said she hopes they can continue in the same sentiment.
- Approved the minutes of the June 1, 2022 meeting.
- Approved amending the Fresno Municipal Code to allow electrified fencing in some non-residential zones in which security fencing is permitted, including all commercial, employment and all downtown districts, with the exception of the downtown core. The commissioners added the conditions that there be 18 inches between the initial fence and electrified fence and that fences should be at least 500 feet from schools and child care centers.
- Sophia Pagoulatos of Planning and Development presented the item.
- The presentation was by Drew Wilson who attended remotely.
- Amendment is presented by Precision Civil Engineering, INc.
- She said they were unable to make the findings that the amendment was consistent with all findings.
- Vang asked if single family homes could be included in the future.
- Pagoulatos said currently those have a density floor so she’s not sure if they would end up in mixed-use districts, but they could be adjacent.
- Vang asked if they need to fill out an indemnity form so the city isn’t liable and Pagoulatos said they would need to.
- Bray said that she had livestock and knows that to deter someone from coming on their property they may need an increased amount of electric current.
- Pagoulatos said she would direct that to the applicant.
- Fuentes asked if it had gone to the project review committees.
- Clark said it has and District 1 recommended potential modifications to the text amendment, but not a determination. District 2 recommended approval. District 3 recommended denial. District 2, District 5 and District 6 recommended approval. Fulton Mall and Tower District recommended approval as well.
- The co-applicant Keith Keneko, government relations director for Amarok Ultimate Perimeter Security gave a presentation in support of the amendment.
- Precision Civil Engineering is the other co-applicant.
- He said the purpose is to prevent criminal trespass.
- He said it isn’t to increase usage, but to “swing the pendulum back to what was allowed in 2015.”
- He said they have at least 50 installations along Highway 99 from Fresno to Bakersfield.
- He said that since the pandemic, “the criminal element has become more brazen and more aggressive.”
- He said that electric fencing was codified in 2015, but it was amended in 2019. “We got thrown into this same bucket as barbed wire and razor wire,” said the representative from Amarok.
- He said it “severely restricted the zones” that can use electric fences and they haven’t received any complaints through the city.
- He said it is safer than barbed wire.
- He said he spoke to Police Chief Balderrama who supported this because it would reduce their call load and help businesses prevent property crimes.
- He addressed Bray’s question about cattle fencing and said this is one component of a more sophisticated system.
- He said when someone cuts it or disturbs it, it will go into an alarm mode and alert the security company or property owner of a potential breach.
- He said the electric fencing wouldn’t compromise safe walkability and would not encroach setbacks.
- Vang asked what if a residential property is adjacent and a child is playing and touches the fence.
- The Amarok representative says this fencing can “not cause death.” He said that electrocution comes from a consistent current, but this is pulsed electricity.
- Additionally, he said that criminals will go through someone’s backyard and it protects the community and will keep criminals from exiting through someone’s backyard.
- Vang then asked who takes on the liability if someone is injured by the fencing.
- Amarok’s representative said that the indemnity agreement protects the city.
- Criner said he was concerned about the risk to children and asked if they have assessed that risk to a child specifically. He asked what the distance would be from the fencing to the perimeter.
- He said this technology is “medically safe.”
- He said the world’s foremost experts on electricity and its effects on the human body have tested this in “worst-case scenarios,” including small bodies and even standing in water.
- “This is not an arbitrary system that Amarok came up with, it is tightly controlled by a standards agency,” he said.
- He said the code requires a 12-inch setback.
- Diaz asked where the systems were located locally.
- The representative had to refer to a list, including Caliber Collision, ABF Freight, Ry-Den, First Schools, ARC of Fresno and Action Towing.
- An employee of Enterprise Rental Car off Blackstone Avenue spoke in support of the amendment.
- He said they had 10-11 catalytic converters stolen in nine months.
- He said they have some in Bakersfield and Sacramento and have seen a decrease of issues.
- He said that no one touched the fence and shocked themselves and that people just “stay away.”
- “It’s been a great implementation to our operation,” he said.
- He said they are setback and no one can reach in and touch these fences.
- Christopher McComb, regional vice president of Caliber Collision in the Central Valley, spoke in support.
- He said for them it’s about protecting citizens who have trusted them with their cars while they are going through a traumatic process.
- He said from 2010 to current, a facility with this system has been incident free.
- Another location has had more than $150,000 in damage in the same time.
- The owner of Fresno Glass spoke in support.
- He said they have an alley behind his business and there have been a lot of issues.
- He said it’s been hard and tools have been stolen from employees.
- Owner of Alert-O-Lite, Debbie Hunsaker spoke in support.
- She said they have been broken in almost every single weekend.
- She said in the last 12 months they have had 17 catalytic converters stolen from company and employee vehicles.
- She said that they got approved for this electrified fencing, but if they weren’t she was considering moving out of Fresno.
- “It’s going to really hurt the small businesses,” she said.
- Lisa Flores of District 1 spoke in opposition.
- She said her concern was the distance from the fence.
- She said there has been a death in Fresno from an electrified fence.
- She said her concern were “stupid kids” and jumping fences.
- She said the fence should be at least 12 feet from the outer edge.
- She said she has a heart condition that could be impacted by something like this and there are people post-Covid that may have heart conditions they know nothing about.
- James Sponslor, chairman of the District 3 project review committee.
- He said they voted in opposition of this because it calls out in the text amendment to allow public and institutional use, which would allow schools, Courthouse Park and other recreational areas to have electrified fences installed.
- He said it would “create the essence of a prison for schools.”
- He said the second reason is because there are a number of homes, specifically in the Van Ness and Fulton corridors, which would be allowed to install electric fencing with this amendment because they are classified as commercial even though they are homes.
- He said District 3 would be the most impacted district because a vast majority of the land in that area would be permitted to allow electrified fencing.
- “Not only does it say that we are unsafe, but it also contributes to potential harm of those around us,” he said.
- Additionally, he said it creates an illusion of security.
- In response, the Amarok representative said that the Antuna family had a tragedy from a “chain link fence” that was electrified, which is not a permitted use.
- Pagoulatos said that they wanted to add some clarifications following the applicant’s presentation.
- She said mixed-use does allow residential and commercial use.
- So the existing businesses in some areas where homes could be built adjacent.
- She said that while the applicant said the Police Chief supported the application, but that they do not have a letter of support from Balderrama.
- “We are concerned about the residential interface, we are also concerned about the street presence of the fences,” she said.
- “Staff believe that children and animals could be vulnerable with these types of fencing,” she said. “These things belong where they’re currently allowed and not in the expanded zone district.”
- Hardie said he is torn on it and it is “kind of an eyesore.” He said he was going to “stay tuned and see what you guys decide.”
- Vang said that he sympathizes with the local business owners, but he was concerned about safety and referred to uses around schools.
- Hardie asked staff if current fence owners would have to remove them.
- Clark said those that already have them can continue, this would expand the use.
- Criner said that he is torn as well because his heart goes out to the business owners and their losses.
- He said he wishes they would have had a letter from Balderrama so they knew where he stood.
- “I’m just so concerned with our kids and our community,” he said.
- Diaz asked staff if it could be recommended with some conditions.
- Clark said yes, the Planning Commission could recommend denial, approval or could recommend with some conditions. She said they could also table it or send it back to staff.
- Bray said she also sympathizes with the owners and as a parent or grandparent she certainly doesn’t want any kids to get shocked.
- She said that she would be inclined to approve this with conditions.
- She said that she would like to make sure that it is not allowed for residential use.
- Vang said that with the setbacks, he thinks that 12 inches is too close, but he would be comfortable with 18 inches.
- He said he also wants to make sure it’s not on schools or child care.
- Wagner said she was piggy backing on what Bray had said.
- She said her biggest concern is how much more expansive that area becomes for potential electrified fencing.
- She said perhaps there is some middle ground and the 18-inch setback is a start, but if they can put language in stipulating how far it can be from residential.
- Clark said they can make those conditions as part of their motion.
- Bray said that she understands having the large setback between residential and commercial, but that down the road having a 20-foot space between would be an issue for trash, criminal activity and homeless encampments.
- Hardie said the requirement of having yellow signs every three feet need to be “toned down.”
- Clark said it is required by law.
- Hardie said that he doesn’t think they should even entertain an electrified fence with the signs next to residential.
- Fuentes asked about the percentage of land that currently would allow for electrified fencing.
- Clark said that as a percentage of land area in the city, she would need to confirm.
- Vang called a five-minute recess at 7:32 p.m. to allow staff to do the research needed in order to answer the question.
- The commission returned from recess at 7:38 p.m.
- To answer Fuentes’ question, Pagoulatos said that currently electrified fencing would be allowed on 13.6% of the city’s land vs. 40.3% under the proposed amendment.
- She said the applicant has also submitted a revised version of the text amendment related to mixed-use districts.
- Drew Wilson asked if the updated document was distributed and she said it was included in the packet.
- Bray moved to approve the amendment with the stipulation that the first fence is 18 inches from the second fence.
- To which, Hardie asked what about by residential.
- Bray said that she believes even by residential that 18 inches would make a difference.
- She asked if when they make findings
- Wagner said that she is concerned that they are going from 13.6% to 40.3% and Fuentes said he was as well.
- Bray asked if the map is representative of existing zoning for these types of businesses.
- Clark said that there were two maps, which showed the different zones.
- Diaz seconded Bray’s motion. Fuentes, Criner, Wagner, Hardie and Vang voted no so it failed.
- Vang then made a motion to approve it according to the findings the applicant presented with the conditions of 18 inches between the initial fence and electrified fence, exclude mixed-use and public institution zones and add that fences should be at least 500 feet from schools and child care centers.
- Hardie asked what that would exclude.
- Vang said it would exclude city facilities, schools, health services, and corporation yards.
- Clark said that any one of the zones could be adjacent to residential.
- Hardie clarified that this is a recommendation to city council and Clark confirmed.
- Hardie said he’s not really in favor of it at all, but he seconded it sinc
- Fuentes voted no, Criner, Wagner, Diaz, Bray, Hardie and Vang approved.
- Motion passes 6-1.
- Continued until July 6 the removal of the conditions of zoning tied to 5.57 acres near Bullard and North Del Mar Avenue in the Public and Institutional zone district.
- Continued to July 6 the tentative tract map for a 73-lot single-family residential development at East Church and South Peach Avenues.
In closing, Clark said that July 6 will be a lengthy meeting and then training will resume.
The meeting adjourned at 7:51 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for July 6. They usually occur on the first and third Wednesdays of the month.
If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at Documentersfirstname.lastname@example.org with “Correction Request” in the subject line.