Feb. 6, 2023 — Clovis City Council
Documented by Rachel Youdelman
What happened: The Clovis City Council met jointly with the Clovis Planning Commission on Feb. 6, to give feedback to a consultant from the De Novo Planning Group about revising and updating the city’s General Plan. Consultant Ben Ritchie led a roundtable discussion, soliciting detailed input regarding the current General Plan’s priorities so it can be appropriately updated, a process which will take several months.
On inclusivity: While discussing what they view as community assets, Planning Commissioner Amy Hatcher said that the city needs to be “more inclusive” and that there needs to be more affordable housing.
Commissioner Paul Hinkle said that the needs of the less mobile, aging population need to be considered as well. He said that wheelchair users need sidewalks on both sides of the street and they need to be able to reach shopping areas easily. “Keep ‘em here,” he said.
While Councilmember Vong Mouanoutoua said that “our job as government is good streets” and that if they “keep the streets clean” that real-estate developers will “develop a product that people want and because of that, it’s automatically diverse.” According to U.S. Census data, Clovis is about 47% white, 33% Latino, 12% mixed-race, 11% Asian, 3% African-American, and a small percentage of other ethnicities.
Vision for the future: When asked what three things they want to see accomplished by 2045, Commissioner Mike Cunningham said that he would resist with his “last fiber” the change to elect city council members by district, because, he said, “it leads to tribalism,” like the “city to the west.” But, he said that he would like to see infrastructure improvements south of Shaw Avenue because “they feel left out.”
Commissioner Alma Antuna said she wants to “protect downtown.” Commissioner Brandon Bedsted said he would like to see more walkability, better access to shopping, more business development, and preservation of water infrastructure.
Hatcher said she would like the city to “stop doing things that don’t work,” and would like to see more housing density, while maintaining a “small-town feel.” And Hinkle said that he would like to see affordable housing “sprinkled” around, not concentrated.
Councilmember Diane Pearce said she would like to see a lot of commercial growth, because that’s the best way to “increase revenues,” in addition she would like to see more amenities, such as pickleball courts and golf courses, which she said will “create that quality of life.”
Councilmember Drew Bessinger said he wants Clovis to be a “great medical destination” with a variety of housing so people who work here can live here. Councilmember Matt Basgall said he wants to see new funding sources, keep up with technological advances, and plan for staff succession. Mouanoutoua said he would like to see completion of all the current developments, in addition to a park, an arts district, and a retirement community.
Mayor Ashbeck said that she would like the “medical neighborhood” to be completed and to bring medical suppliers to Clovis. She said that she wants everyone to be able to “tell the Clovis story.” Additionally, her goals include increased walkability, self-sufficiency with revenue, and to be a city whose answer is always “yes.”
Next steps: In closing, Ritchie said that over the next few months, his project team will complete their written review of the General Plan and write a “strategy report.” Legal requirements will be scrutinized and the current plan will be analyzed for effectiveness of meeting the city’s priorities. The final report will be presented to the council and the planning commission by end of the fiscal year, before July.
Planning and Development Services Director Renee Mathis said that a public workshop has not yet been held, but Ritchie said that “robust public outreach” was to come. Ritchie said that the last update in 2014 entailed a General Plan Advisory Committee with 21 members, who gave advice and suggestions. The update was planned on a 24-36-month schedule, but it took 67 months, said Ritchie.
City Manager John Holt pointed out that the last General Plan took 67 months to update because it was the end of the recession and there was not enough funds to pay for it. But now there is adequate funding, so he estimated it would take 24-36 months to fully update.