Feb. 15, 2023 — Madera City Council

Documented by Hugo Galindo

Here’s What You Need To Know

  • The Feb. 15 Madera City Council meeting was highlighted by councilmember concerns about public works projects and the use of taxpayer dollars. From lengthy timelines to strained budgets, the council worried about issues that may come up with these projects in the future. 
  • In a 4-3 vote, the council voted against the allocation of public funds to Madera Community College in support of bringing Dolores Huerta to the school. The main issue expressed by council members is the lack of a city policy about these types of allocations and that it will set a precedent for organizations to simply ask the council to set aside public funds as donations or sponsorships.

Follow-up Questions

  • The Clean California State Beautification Project will have a portion of the Route 99 block wall beautified by adding shrubbery, vinery, and feature local artists. Will similar projects take place throughout the whole of Madera City?  
  • Mayor Garcia urged council members who voted against Item E7 to make personal donations to match the college. Will this promise be fulfilled?

Call to Order

Roll Call

  • Mayor Santos Garcia
  • Mayor Pro Tem Elsa Mejia, District 5
  • Councilmember Cece Gallegos, District 1
  • Councilmember Jose Rodriguez, District 2
  • Councilmember Steve Montes, District 3
  • Councilmember Anita Evans, District 4
  • Councilmember Artemio Villegas, District 6


  •  Joyce Lane, Glory of Zion Ministries

Pledge of Allegiance

Approval of Agenda

Today’s agenda was approved with no amendments.

Public Comment

No members of the public approached with comments either in person or over remote access.

Written Communications




A. Workshops


B. Consent Calendar

  • B-1: Minutes – November 16, 2022
  • B-2: Informational Report on Register of Audited Demands
  • B-3: Informational Report on Personnel Activity
  • B-4: Informational Report on Contract City Attorney Services and Litigation Expenditures
  • B-5: Community Development Block Grant McNally Park Project 2022-2023 Agreement
  • B-6: Rescinding Resolution 20-30 Proclaiming a Local Emergency Within the City due to COVID-19

C. Public Hearings


D. Petitions, Bids, Resolutions, Ordinances, and Agreements

  • D-1 Clean California State Beautification Program — Madera Block Wall Enhancement Project.
    • Consideration request from CalTrans to enter into an agreement under the Clean California State Beautification Project (CCSBP) to fund an art installation on the block wall along Route 99.
    • The agreement would greenlight the installation of vining shrubbery along the block wall, alongside art panels that would feature creations by local artists (chosen by the Art Selection Committee, formed by this agreement, dissolved after art selection).
    • If approved, the city would receive $100,000 to supply the artists. $230,000 (previously awarded) would be set aside by the city to maintain the new vegetation.
      • An unnamed citizen worries that installing any new shrubbery would increase the number of unhoused residents that seek shelter along the highway. “Just an idea is to not put the bushes… and give people a place to hide and start bringing garbage.” 
      • DJ Becker, freelance writer and news reporter worries that the toxic smoke produced by the proposed oleander vines could pose a potential health risk should they catch fire. “…They emit a toxic smoke from the fires along the roadsides I have seen, and they collect windblown trash at the base…”
      • Councilmember Rodriguez shares similar worries, “I believe this will attract folks that are, um, I do hate to use the word ‘homeless’… ‘unhoused’, yes, unhoused… I see the point the public made that that’ll create temporary housing for the unhoused.” Because this project is being spearheaded by CalTrans, Councilmember Rodriguez said that, if the shrubs get out of hand, it will be difficult to get CalTrans to take care of them. “What instrument exists between us and CalTrans that will make CalTrans accountable when we see these things getting out of hand?… So that five to ten years down the road we’re not all ‘we told you so.’“
    • Despite the uncertainty surrounding this project, the item is approved unanimously.
  • D-2 Amendment No. 1 to the Landscaping Maintenance Services for the Downtown District, Certain Facilities, and Median Islands Agreement with EMTS Inc.
    • Adopt a resolution approving Amendment No. 1 to the LSMS, chiefly extending the contract the city holds with EMTS Inc which expires February 19, 2023. An approval would extend the contract by 2 additional years. 
    • Compared to other proposals, EMTS Inc. was ranked at the top in approach to work, staffing, and fees.
    • Currently, the city pays $200,880/year, the extension would raise this rate to $224,985.60. Revenue comes from the Downtown Association Fund, gas tax revenue, and the city’s general fund.
      • Councilmember Gallegos asks, “I just wanted to see if staff have done an analysis about how much it would cost us if we maintain these facilities and median islands ourselves.”
      • Strategic Plan Coordinator Gabriela Salazar reassures the council that, as of the 2016 cost analysis, self maintenance was estimated at $1.5 million, versus the contract cost of $883,000.
      • Councilmember Montes adds, “Are there any oleanders around there? Just kiddin’.”
    • Item D-2 is approved unanimously

E. Administrative Reports

  • E-1 Acceptance of the Audited Financial Statements for the Fiscal Year ended June 30, 2022.
    • It is recommended city council accept of audited Financial Statements for Fiscal Year ended in June 30, 2022, report by Anthony Forestiere.
    • Andrew Roth representing the Pun Group presents the financial statements for the year. Findings are conclusive that:
      • Financial statements are fairly represented in all material respects
      • Significant accounting policies have been consistently applied
      • Estimates are reasonable
      • Disclosures are properly reflected in financial statements
    • Item E-1 is approved.
  • E-2 Update on Temporary Barricade Along Hazel Avenue
    • This item is informational only.
    • A new arm gate along with signage to notify residents of a dead end were installed
    • This action was taken to curb illegal activity, namely street racing and illegal dumping
    • The financial impact of these installations is approximately $1,000
  • E-3 Emergency Repairs to Avenue 13 Sewer Trunk Main at Granada Drive, Update #2
    • This item is informational only.
    • A collapse occurred Jan. 2, 2023 at Pecan Ave and Granada Dr.
    • Staff hired Floyd Johnston Construction to make emergency repairs on Jan. 9, 2023
    • Additional damages and worsened conditions were reported on Feb. 1, 2023, but FJC is making good progress on the emergency repairs
    • Over 150 feet of deteriorated 27 inch pipe will be replaced with new 30 inch pipe, expected to be completed by mid-March.
    • Estimated cost is still within range of the reported $1.4-1.5 million, but has exceeded $1.4 million.
  • E-4 Yosemite Avenue Improvement Grant Opportunities
    • This report by Keith Helmuth is submitted to the council for consideration of options in the pursuit of grants used to fund certain improvements presented in the State Route 145 Yosemite Avenue as Downtown Main Street Plan.
    • The council is urged to make preparations in case the Reconnecting Communities Grant application is unsuccessful. 
    • RCP improvements include: wider sidewalks, rectangular flashing beacons at crosswalks, decorative lighting, landscape irrigation, shade trees, improved drainage, high visibility crosswalks, hardscape improvements, furniture, and any potential improvements approved by the city manager. 
    • In a successful grant application, construction may start as early as 2025.
      • DJ Becker, freelance writer and news reporter, stresses the importance of the addition of flashing beacons to the crosswalks to ensure safety for elderly or disabled pedestrians.
      • Mayor Santos Garcia said, “I’d love to focus on the core of the project, and then we can branch outward.”
    • The motion to consider other potential grant opportunities passes unanimously.
  • E-5 Update on Video Conferencing of Brown Act Meetings of City Council and City Boards, Commissions, and Committees
    • This is an informational item only.
    • In summary, after Feb. 28, 2023, the council will not be able to continue to adopt Reauthorizing Resolutions to allow for video conferencing under AB 361 for the council and its boards, commissions, and committees. It also summarizes the Brown Act Traditional Rules for video conferencing and new AB 2449 rules for limited video conferencing. 
    • Presented by City Attorney Hilda Cantu Montoy, the update informs of the new AB 2449 rules, namely the requirement of the council to publicly post the location of any members present via teleconferencing.
    • This comes at the end of the statewide health emergency order and places upon members the necessity of presenting just cause for not attending in person.
    • This still permits the public to access public forum via teleconferencing, but if the council’s audio/video equipment fails, the meeting must close with no further action taken.
      • DJ Becker, representing the ADA Council said, “People are used to the video conferencing convenience, the safety, the savings in fuel… folks with disabilities don’t have temporary disabilities, and residents are busy… this seems to be a no-brainer.”
      • “I don’t think anyone would want to take that away from them,” affirms Mayor Garcia.
      • “Let’s revisit AB 2449 when we have more information… we will continue to allow the public to Zoom in,” Councilmember Gallegos concludes.
  • E-6 City Contribution towards the Madera County Economic Development Commission (EDC) for Fiscal Year 2022/23 in the Amount of $181,437.86
    • The EDC recommends the city council adopt a Minute Order approving the 2023/24 basic Service Level Budget as submitted by Executive Director of the EDC Darren Rose
    • Darren Rose presents the progress the EDC has made for Madera County.
    • Upcoming developments include:
      • WHSE Partners
      • In-n-Out
      • Dutch Bros.
      • Madera Marketplace Shopping Center
      • Country Club Shopping Center
      • AG Machining
      • Amond World
      • North Fork Mono Resort
    • The item is passed unanimously.
  • E-7 Consideration Regarding the Proposed Dolores Huerta Day, a Community Event in Partnership with Madera Community College
    • This item is being brought for consideration and direction at the request of the City Council, as reported by Arnoldo Rodriguez.
    • William Mask, Latin-Americanist history instructor at Madera Community College speaks on the cultural value of bringing Dolores Huerta to Madera Community College. She has visited Fresno and Clovis Community Colleges, but has yet to visit the relatively new Madera Community College.
      • Mask said this is an opportunity to bring Dolores Huerta to Madera for a discounted rate . He said the Dolores Huerta Foundation charges $25,000 plus expenses for visits within California and $35,000 for visits outside of the state. 
      • “She’s going to come to Madera March 30 and we’re looking to start a relationship with Madera where we get to co-op and do these things together more often to highlight our community,” he said. “In this particular case, we’re going to highlight the fruit of her labor and I would argue that most of you on this council are indeed the fruit of her labor in more ways than I can count on my hands.” 
      • “We want to introduce her and lift her up in front of our kids so that our kids know it’s doable, especially young Latinos,” he said. 
      • Mask said she would spend the morning with the city then visit the college and be the keynote speaker for a luncheon.
      • “I didn’t have a big presentation, I’m not going to confuse everybody with Brown Act stuff, but this is a real simple request, $3,000 to 5,000, co-opt in with us,” Mask said
      • Councilmember Montes addresses the request with, “I think it’s a worthy cause, but for the city we have been trying to get a policy and procedure for situations like this. These are public funds… I’d vote ‘No’ right now, but contribute personally.”
      • Montes said that absent a well-articulated policy, he would personally contribute, but he is not comfortable allocating city funds in this way. “No comment on the merits of the person or what you’re trying to do, but absent that well-articulated policy anybody can come ask us,” he said. 
      • Councilmember Gallegos worries that pledging public funds would set a precedent for organizations to ask for direct contributions, which would then put the members in direct conflict, having sponsored some events and not others. This is due to the lack of policy surrounding requests for donations. 
      • Mayor Garcia agrees with Mask, saying, “I think it’s a shame we can’t match the I miss you college. We make expenditures every year, we can make at least a $3,000 contribution to having Dolores here.” At this point, the mayor creates a motion to set aside the exact amount in public funds.
    • The motion fails with a vote of 4 No and 3 Yes.
      • Councilmember Gallegos: No
      • Councilmember Rodriguez: No
      • Councilmember Montes: No
      • Councilmember Anita Evans: Yes
      • Mayor Pro Tem Mejia: No
      • Councilmember Villegas: Yes
      • Mayor Santos Garcia: Yes

 F. Councilmember Reports/Announcements/Future Agenda Items

  • Councilmember Gallegos informs of the citywide curbside cleanup, set for Feb. 20. As per SB1383, it is imperative to now compost our organic waste, required from private enterprises. In order to receive a household composting bin, please contact Mid Valley Disposal at (559) 661-5406. 
  • Councilmember Evans informs of the Black History Month celebration at McNally Park, Sunday Feb. 19. Evans is also set to be inducted as a Black History Trailblazer at the Fresno African American Historical and Cultural Museum.
  • Mayor Pro Tem Mejia informs of the upcoming Presidents’ Day. Presidents’ Day is marked by sales, which Mejia says leads to an uptick in illegally dumped mattresses. Mayor Pro Tem Mejia adds that if you are to get rid of your mattress, contact byebyemattress.com to schedule a free pick up.
  • Mayor Garcia has adopted a rescue puppy named Hercules.

G. Closed Session

  • G-1 Conference with Labor Negotiations — Pursuant to Government Code §54957.6 
    • Agency Designated Representatives: Mayor Pro Tem Mejia and Councilmember Montes
    • Unrepresented Employee: City Manager


  • The Madera City Council adjourned from the public to convene for closed session at 10:08 p.m. The council will publicly convene next on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. For more details on location, times, and future agendas, see the Madera City Council website.

Upcoming Meeting Dates

  • Wednesday, March 1, 2023
  • Wednesday, March 15, 2023

If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at fresnodocs@fresnoland.org with “Correction Request” in the subject line.

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