Here’s what you need to know:
- After hearing several public concerns that it will impact homes and property, the Fresno Planning Commission approved the widening of West North Avenue from South Marks to South Elm Avenues in Southwest Fresno. Staff said that only some businesses, but not homes, will be affected by the addition of a bike and turn lane.
- The commission also heard several public comments about a proposed five-story affordable housing complex at 63 West Shaw Avenue that would provide 123 units. Concerns ranged from parking and traffic impacts to a lack of green space and a safe area for children to play. Ultimately, the commission delayed making a decision on the appeal of the permit for the development and voted for a fire plan to be made public, that the developer meet with the community and for a staff meeting to discuss traffic calming measures.
- The commission approved a rezone from high density residential to regional mixed use for 1.73 acres owned by local restauranter, Dave Fansler. The property is located close to his restaurant Pismo’s Coastal Grill on Nees Avenue between North Blackstone and North Ingram Avenues.
- In response to concerns about the impact to well use and crop irrigation on a neighboring property, the commission delayed voting on a 199-lot residential development located on the southeast corner of the East California Avenue alignment and South Willow Avenue. The commission requested city staff, the developer and property owner to meet and discuss.
Consideration of the Official Plan Line (OPL) for the West North Avenue alignment from South Marks Avenue to South Elm Avenue.
Staff recommendation is to adopt the Official Plan Line for the West North Avenue alignment from South Marks Avenue to South Elm Avenue.
A resident during public comment asked “How many people attended this in-person meeting? Is there a roster?”
A property owner in southwest Fresno said “I own 4 properties and I have yet to receive any correspondence. They are not sent to all of the residents and their homes. This is what happens in southwest Fresno. Who did you send the mailers? What did they say?”
Another resident said “It doesn’t matter what the radius is, this is about all of southwest Fresno.”
“The point I am getting to is that we are considered as the dumbest people in California. It is ridiculous that we keep coming back here… you don’t tell us anything because you think we are dumb.”
Resident Emily Brandt said “I am very disturbed this evening. I did not have access to these maps until right now. When the roads will be widened, homes will be cut down. I feel like I have been misled because it’s very clear that it’s impossibly to carry this task w/out taking..
away people’s properties. I spoke to people in the area and they said they did not receive notifications. These people do not know about this. I oppose this and ala you to vote against this. This is not finished, not at all.”
Another resident said “I was there for the meeting, but it was not successful. He did not have finished maps to show us. There is going to be property taken. We asked for another meeting to clarify about what all of this is about. From our understanding, the street…”
is going to be widened. This is gentrification.”
Another resident of southwest Fresno said “Some of you look like you don’t care. I do. I raised my family here. You go back to your lavish homes. Someone comes and tells you they are taking away your property because it’s too big…”
“I worked hard for this. I have a family to raise. It’s sad that you would always the stud you have seen to happen. This is a downlow slavery. Just going to take it. But you know god sits high and looks down low. You will reap what you sow.”
A resident said “They start with the sidewalk and widen the road. Then they start taking everything. People worked hard and they end up with nothing. We will not follow like the Pinedale takeover. We’ll we took over Riverpark so we will do the same with southwest Fresno.”
A resident of southwest Fresno said “People already drove crazy on mother avenue. They don’t care about the residents that live there. Do you want to kill JS? We have enough problems as it is. We don’t need more lanes. I am against it. I have been there for 69 years.”
“We have seen how the city has lied about what they said they are going to. Why would you put sidewalks and then take it away. This is taxpayer money. People like myself worked hard for this.”
Another resident said “You can go home and lay down and not worry about people taking away your property. I don’t see no right in this. You don’t worry about people driving through your house. How much sense does it make? It might not be what you want, but it’s what we want.”
Staff with the Public Works Dept. said “Like a previous speaker stated, we did have 5 residents attend the meeting. They did not want to sign the roster.”
“The OPL is not taking away anyone’s property. This is just to show what the street widening will look like and some property acquisition. This is more for future development.”
“The proposed OPL includes 2 travel lanes, a bike lane and a turn lane.”
Commissioner David Criner said “The greatest threat tonight is that you are saying that people’s properties will not be taken away. Are you comfortable telling this community that?”
The staff said yes. “Only some businesses would be affected but they are not homes.”
Commission Chair Peter Vang said “I am sympathetic to you all. If you want change in your community, you need to participate. I feel like the problem is that there is a lack of communication between the city staff and the community.”
Commission Chair Peter Vang made a motion to deny this item. Motion failed.
Another motion was made to approve the staff recommendation. Motion passed, with Commission Chair Peter Vang and David Criner who voted against this item.
The meeting moved to the Consideration of Plan Amendment and Rezone Application No. P19-05950 and related Environmental Assessment No. P19-05950, for approximately 1.73 acres of property located on the south side of West Nees Avenue, betw. North Blackstone and North Ingram Ave
A business owner said they had an outreach meeting and all agree to support staff recommendation for the Planning Commission to approve the rezone
Chair Peter Vang opened the meeting for public comment, to which there was no public comment.
The Commission voted to approve the staff recommendation for the Rezone application of the property between North Blackstone and North Ingram Avenues.
Commission Vice Chair Brad Hardie said he has a conflict of interest and asked to recuse himself. It was announced that in doing so, the commission would lose quorum.
Chair Peter Vang called for a recess and will resume the meeting at 7:10 p.m.
Chair Vang resumed the meeting at 7:11 p.m.
Vice Chair Brad Hardie recused himself from the next agenda item.
The meeting moved to the Consideration of Vesting Tentative Tract Map No. 6345; and related Environmental Assessment No. T-6345/P22-00411/P22-00442 for approximately 36.75 acres of property located on the southeast corner of the East California Ave alignment and South Willow Ave.
“After working closely with city staff, we support this project. We have 2 conditions that we will work with the city staff to address this week.”
Chair Peter Vang opened the meeting to public comment.
A resident who owns the property to the north of the proposed annexation stated “We have only received 1 notification to this day. We do not have plans to move. This is owned by my mom, who is 100.”
“Because we do not know the impact on our use, despite what the gentleman said that we can continue, the impact of the people from across of us will be significant. I don’t know anything about what was presented today. We oppose to be annexed.”
The developer said “In terms of the notification, o thought we went through the whole process. I am shocked to hear that.”
Another speaker said “The property owners were notified. The property owner of the north property did not attend the meeting.”
Commissioner Kathy Bray asked “If the northern property is annexed, will they need to deepen their wells or connect to city water?”
City staff said “If your well does go dry, we will have you connect to Cory water. Since your parcel is 40 acres, a meter will go on the well.”
Commissioner Bray asked “If they are connected to city water, will they be restricted on irrigating their crops?”
City staff said “The fees will be substantial for water and sewer connection since the parcel is substantial.”
Commissioner Bray said “I lived in the country and it is not acceptable to me to have this family start paying the city to use their water. It is not fair for them to pay after all the years they have been farming.”
The Council made a motion for city staff, the developer and property owner to meet to further discuss this item.
Commission Vice Chair Brad Hardie also recused himself from the next agenda item.
The meeting moved to Consideration of an appeal filed regarding Development Permit Application No. P21-00420 and related Environmental Assessment for property located at 63 West Shaw Avenue on the southeast corner of West Shaw and North Glenn Avenues.
The proposed property would be affordable housing with 5 stories of 123 dwelling units.
The affordable housing concessions/incentives include at least 30% of lower income, with at least 15% very low income and at least 30% of moderate income.
Billy Alcorn with the Fresno Fire Department stated that the property proposal meets the planning standards and fire code guidelines.
Byron Beagles (also with the Fire Dept.) also agreed.
Chair Peter Vang opened the meeting to the public.
Property owner Nathan N. said “The developer has done extensive outreach, a fantastic job in making sure legit are concerns are met. Being part of the neighborhood, I saw some of the disgusting comments they made. I heard them saying they want to kill this project.”
Kevin Hill spoke in opposition to the development. “We have lived here in the neighborhood since 1988. The Better Blackstone Association has excluded us from their outreach. As commissioners you know, the residents who live there are experts in their neighborhoods.”
Another resident said “The only things I have heard is that we are concerned with buildings that are more than 5 stories and fire ladders that are not able to reach. Where will the children play? This is right next to Shaw. How does it make sense that there is no traffic study?”
Another resident said “People will park on my property, which is 1 house down. The 123 units will have multiple cars in each one. I am appalled about this. There is no other 5 story building along Shaw. I am a retired school teacher. There is legal standards for playing space.”
“The community meetings were awful. They ran a PowerPoint on Blackstone and all of the development they hav e planned. They cut our microphones so it was not a community meeting.”
“The most polluted in Fresno. There are no sidewalk, there are no parks, schools or stores within walking distance. We are talking about environmental justice. This was not the intent of the 2035 plan, my name is on it. I personally take offense to what the gentleman said.”
Dean Alexander, president of the Fig Garden Home Owners Association said “We support affordable housing. A traffic plan study should be done since Shaw avenue is backed up at all times throughout the day.”
Another resident said “I’m a school teacher and my biggest concern is that there are 8 trees and a playground for all the children in the neighborhood. It is unwalkable and goes against what we are trying to do. You are forcing people to get into cars and drive down Shaw Ave.”
Another resident said “I support affordable housing and believe affordable housing should be in all neighborhoods if designed correctly. We were not allowed to get information from the city. Public records were also submitted but we did not receive anything back.”
“This process is defective. Legally defective, morally defective for sure. This is a concern we have. Let’s work together.”
Another resident said “I started a Facebook group, which is why we had 60 people attend the meeting. My fear is that this poorly planned project will be built. We will have a crisis of traffic and children getting hurt.”
A resident said “If this project gets rail roared at the size it is right now, people will start distrusting how this is being out together. I really hope you consider this moving forward. Please work with us and make that better.”
Another resident said “I am worried about the small children running across the street and could be hit by a car. This is too congested for children to play in the little green area next to the parking lot.”
“This same builder will develop a community center in our neighborhood. The biggest thing is Christmas Tree Lane being affected. There is no nearby park so the children will gather where we walk our dogs in Christmas Tree Lane.”
A resident said “This part of the neighborhood was not planned with this amount of density. There are no real open spaces that are walkable. I don’t agree with the current project with its size and scope.”
A resident said “The average household has 1.73 children so I rounded up and we have 2 children per household. Some can have more or less. There’s 123 units, which means 246 children The play area is about the size of a garage. Think about the children.”
A resident said “I was not going to speak tonight, until the gentlemen questioned our integrity. We support affordable housing. The question here is the density of the project. I question the integrity and motive of the individual that questioned my integrity.”
Another resident said “This huge enterprise is near the Christmas Tree plot. I read the report and saw that Whole Foods is designated as the grocery store that people can walk too. There is limited parking spaces already available.”
A resident via Zoom said “We are not against affordable housing. There will be a lot of people moving into the neighborhood. I am afraid for the children. The neighborhood is not walkable.”
Jared Davis with the developer said “We expect a significant portion of those moving into the affordable housing are homeless or formerly homeless. I am looking at the letter that was provided to the Fig Garden Home Owners Association.”
“The focus has been on traffic, fire safety and the children. These are just statements to problems that have not even occurred yet. If not us, then someone else will do it. We re not doing nothing wrong. This is a necessity more so than most people realize.”
Paloma Pérez-McEvoy said “The objections made against the project do not meet the requirements. The fire department stated that the fire safety codes meet the standards. Anything other than this is pure speculation. Traffic congestion is no longer an impact through SEQA.”
Perez-McEvoy said “The concerns regarding the children and flying soccer balls are based on speculation. The project is allowed to move forward because they meet the density requirements, which are allowed.”
Traffic operations city staff said “We compare the zones of traffic that designates that the threshold for projects is 240 peak hours per trip. This project will create 54 peak hour trips, so no further analysis was required.”
Commissioner David Criner asked “Were all questions submitted by participants through the chat feature answered?”
Develop Jared Davis said “We captured the questions and answered them through the chat feature. We made more effort on that regard than required by anybody.”
Commissioner Robert Fuentes said “I appreciate you all for coming. It shows the strength of this community. I am also stuck because we are pushing for high density affordable housing because we have a housing crisis. I fear that this will be a pattern where we see this…”
across the city. I can see these types of projects proposed on other neighborhoods and for what’re reasons, sincere reasons, these neighborhoods will oppose these high density affordable housing.”
Chair Peter Vang asked “Will you consider downgrading the size of this project?”
Jared Davis said “No, I have already made accommodations. We have worked with the community, only to be disrespected time & time again. The people that need housing need this development.”
“The people that have housing don’t need this development.”
Commissioner Kathy Bray said “My recomm. is to divert traffic on Glenn. If there was a way to put a cup-de-sac or divider (I live in Fig Garden & work down the street on Shaw). We don’t have a rush hour, we have a rush minute. We live in the city now & need to bite the bullet.”
Commission Chair Peter Vang made a motion to extend the meeting to 10:15 p.m. since there are protocols to end the meeting by 10 p.m.
City staff said “Traffic circles may be needed, even without this project if traffic congestion is a problem.”
Commissioner Kathy Bray said “We can add a divider so that traffic would not go into Glenn Ave. This will keep the complex from being a problem.”
Commissioner David Criner said “I am a person of faith. Tonight, my prayer is that the developer can engage the community. I hope our attitudes can help help us, not tear us down. It doesn’t seem like there is no opportunity for us to work together.”