What's at stake?
Miguel Arias had previously expressed concerns about how the city may navigate potential conflicts of interest that could arise with Jacqueline Lyday, who works for London Properties, a large real estate firm representing residential, commercial, and industrial transactions across the city. The Planning Commission, although an advisory body to the City Council, plays a significant role in land use decisions in Fresno.
The Fresno Planning Commission gained a new member, as the Fresno City Council voted 6-1 to approve the appointment of realtor Jacqueline Lyday at their meeting Thursday. Councilmember Miguel Arias was the lone vote in opposition.
Arias had previously expressed concerns about how the city may navigate potential conflicts of interest that could arise with Lyday, who works for London Properties, a large real estate firm representing residential, commercial, and industrial transactions across the city. The Planning Commission, although an advisory body to the City Council, plays a significant role in land use decisions in Fresno.
“She will have to self-police, the ability to recuse herself, should a conflict arise,” said Deputy Mayor Matthew Grundy, who added that Lyday had two active listings in the last month; her firm, London Properties, had 122 listings.
“When you compare that against the 184,000 residential units in the city, we thought that potential conflict was insignificant enough,” Grundy told the council. Lyday will be responsible for self-monitoring not just her own listings, but any potential conflicts across the board with any London Properties listing, he added.
City Attorney Andrew Janz said that if Lyday votes on a decision where she has a conflict of interest, there is a possibility that the decision could be voided.
He added that his office analyzed previous votes by Commissioner Brad Hardie, whose conflicts have undergone scrutiny, and found that his votes didn’t affect the outcome.
Arias has also raised concerns about his potential conflicts, given Hardie’s extensive property ownership and contracts with the city to manage homeless shelters through RH Community Builders, a company he co-founded. Commissioner Hardie told Fresnoland last August that he plans to step down from the Planning Commission.
City Manager Georgeanne White reported that current conflicts of interest had not generated quorum issues for the Planning Commission.
The nomination of Lyday replaces the commission seat previously held by Rob Fuentes, who resigned earlier in February to serve as a trustee on the State Center Community College District Board of Directors. He was elected to the SCCCD board in November.
Deputy Mayor Matthew Grundy told the council that the mayor’s office has had a difficult time finding qualified candidates to serve on the Planning Commission and has interviewed just two or three candidates for the Planning Commission since the mayor took office in January 2021.
Arias and Councilmember Annalisa Perea expressed a desire to increase representation of residents from south Fresno neighborhoods on the Planning Commission.
Grundy agreed to increase representation from historically marginalized neighborhoods – adding that the majority of appointments on the city’s boards and commissions come from Districts 6, 3, and 1.
Still not satisfied, Arias told Grundy that the mayor’s office should be inviting more people to apply from the city’s project review committees, representing the seven council districts.
“In my view, that’s our farm team. People spend years doing land use in their own neighborhoods, and they’re never lifted up. We only seem to find willing and able individuals from the business and developer community,” he said.
“The majority of the planning commission is from north Fresno. The majority of the difficult decisions around pollution and mitigation from that is in south Fresno.”
Other council members supported Lyday’s nomination.
Councilmember Perea said, “I have no problem supporting a strong, woman of color with a longstanding history of community service.”