Jan. 17, 2023 — Clovis City Council

Documented by Rachel Youdelman

James Borunda, Jr., accompanied by his father, spoke at the Jan. 17 Clovis City Council meeting about the damage sustained to his father’s house due to a city water-main break that occurred on Jan. 3. 2022.

What happened: At the Jan. 17 Clovis City Council meeting, members of three families whose homes were damaged by a city water-main break near Sunnyside Avenue over a year ago appeared in person, not for the first time, to plead with the council for a fair resolution to the displacement and loss of property they have experienced.

The evening’s closed session also concerned the families’ impending litigation against the city, which Attorney Scott Wolfe said would be considered, but that there would be no action to report at that time.

One of the impacted residents, Cheryl Medrano, spoke during the meeting, saying that she and the other families whose houses were destroyed now experience lives of “daily struggle.” Sobbing and struggling to speak through tears, Medrano added that “the city of Clovis has failed us.”

James Borunda, Jr., accompanied by his father in a wheelchair, also spoke about the damage caused to his father’s house and how little the assistance they received the night of the water-main break. Borunda described throwing his father over his shoulder and getting him to safety in his truck, with water up to his knees. He said that police officers came at 3 a.m. and “watched us scramble,” adding, “that was indicative of how the next year went.”

Borunda said that Assistant City Manager Andy Haussler suggested, as a solution, that Borunda put his father in a nursing home. Now, Borunda was “tired of games and false assurances.” Borunda, Sr., unable to speak, used an electronic speaking device, assisted by his son; through the device, Borunda, Sr. said, “I do not want to live in a nursing home. I do not want to be homeless. I want my house back.”

Sheri Persons, who last appeared before the council on Nov. 7 about the damage to her home, said that she and the other families have been waiting one year and three weeks for resolution, receiving inadequate offers from the city. “Were all my counter-offers for nothing? Do we as victims have no rights?” she said. She wanted to know when to expect to hear from the council with a date for rebuilding.

Mayor Lynne Ashbeck thanked the residents and said “we can’t comment” but that, “we hear you.” City Manager John Holt added that “staff will reach out” and provide information about more specific timing.

Liquor license denied: After a lengthy discussion, the council approved by a 4-1 vote, a resolution to partially deny an appeal to the planning commission’s approval of a conditional-use permit for a property at the northeast corner of N. Temperance Ave. and Owens Mountain Parkway.

The project is a 24-hour convenience store with an application to sell liquor developed by Dave Virk, LLC, and the appellant was Beal Developments LLC.

Concerns about over-saturation of liquor licenses in the particular census tract where the property was located were expressed by several, including Chief of Police Kurt Fleming and another police officer, as well as a few council members. There was a long discussion about how liquor licenses over the permitted limit had been issued; there were five or six (the exact number seemed to be disputed) when the maximum allowed was four.

In the end, the council voted to allow 24-hour business hours but denied the request for a liquor license. Ashbeck was the sole vote against the approval.

Question remains: How were five or six liquor licenses approved in an area, when the maximum number allowed is four?

Up next: The next Clovis City Council meeting is scheduled for Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. and is a joint meeting with the planning commission.

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The Fresno Documenters are a group of local residents who are trained and paid to attend and take notes at local public meetings where officials decide how to spend public money and make important decisions...