March 14, 2023 — Tulare County Board of Supervisors

Documented by Dani Huerta

Here’s what you need to know

  • Fire Chief Norman and Resource Management Agency (RMA) Director Reed Schenke spoke about what the county is doing to help those in need as a result of recent flooding and bridge and road repair. The primary concerns are the Tule River and Kaweah River near Schafer Dam as well as restoring access to isolated communities such as Camp Nelson and Ponderosa. They estimate about 20 sites have permanent damage.  For road issues and nonemergencies residents can call 559-647-000 and for property damage call 559-802-9791.
  • Supervisors adopted the 2023 Tulare County Multi-Jurisdictional Local Hazard Mitigation Plan. It contains new requirements to mitigate hazard, and approval will help with the  review by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Many members of the public spoke against the approval because they said it  does not meet SB-379 requirements for permitting residential solar power systems. People also voiced their concerns over contaminated water in the area and flood damage.
  • A presentation was given by the County Administrative Office on the Mid-Year Budget Report for fiscal year 2022/23. Its proposed schedule was approved. The proposed state budget is $296.9 billion, with a decrease of $11 billion. The county’s general fund budget is $1,050,753,369 and 81 percent of positions are filled. Revenue is 1 percent  lower than last year, expenditures are 4 percent higher, and general fund departments are within budget. Most budget adjustment requests are the result of  inflation, particularly in utilities. 

Follow up Questions

  • Why is the Housing Authority not helping residents experiencing flooding and redirecting them to the county for support?
  • What are the exact rules and guidelines for the opening prayer waitlist?

Board of Supervisors

  • Larry Micari – vice chair, District One
  • Pete Vander Poel III, District Two
  • Amy Shuklian, District Three
  • Eddie Valero, District Four
  • Dennis Townsend – chair, District Five
  • Jason T. Britt, county administrative officer
  • Jennifer M. Flores, county counsel
  • Melinda Benton, chief clerk

The Scene

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting was held simultaneously both in-person and streamed via YouTube at 9 a.m. on March 14.


  • (Approved) Special Meeting Consent Calendar (Items 1 and 2)
    • Ratify a Proclamation of Local Health Emergency due to Flood Water Contamination by the County Health Officer on March 11, 2023. Ratify all orders related to evacuations issued by the Emergency Services Director between March 10 and March 13, 2023.
    • Jason Britt introduced the item. Fire Chief Norman and Resource Management Agency Director Reed Schenke spoke about those affected by flooding. Norman said there have been about 400 emergency calls since last Thursday. They have entered into Unified Command where nearby counties work together on solutions. They are a Type 3 Incident Command Team but could change to a Type 1 if the incident worsens.
    • The primary concerns are the Tule River and Kaweah River near Schafer Dam. Schenke described the road closures. At the peak there were about 100 road closures. They estimate about 20 sites have permanent damage. Their primary concern is restoring access to isolated communities such as Camp Nelson and Ponderosa.They have spent about $500,000 between Thursday and Monday and estimate they will spend about $1 million restoring known damage to bridges. For road issues and nonemergencies residents can call 647000 and for property damage call 559-802-9791.
      • Shuklian asked about sandbag availability. Noroman said they have some available and are trying to get them replenished as soon as possible.
      • Valero asked if the impact of this storm will be as bad as the last storm. Norman said he does not think it will be as severe.
      • Vander Poel asked about calling the property damage phone number. Schenke said it helps to have an official government inspection to verify the damage.
      • Micari asked Schenke to explain the difference between canals and creeks. Schenke said it depends on the irrigation district but usually creeks are natural bodies of water that run through properties and it is up to the property owner to maintain them.
      • Valero asked how long until access is repaired to bridges in Three Rivers. Schenke said access at Bailey Bridge has been repaired. Damage to Mineral King Road will take weeks to repair. They have not been able to access Southfork Drive.
      • Micari asked about the link to report property damage. It is available on the County website
    • Public Comment
      • Jesus Ventura, a resident of Cutler, said it is unsanitary because of flooding where he lives, and he has not received any help. His family needs dumpsters.
      • Juanita Martinez, another resident of Cutler, asked how her family will know when it is safe to return. She has lost trust in the canal and said she has lost everything. 
      • Townsend encouraged her to go to a shelter and contact the Red Cross if it is not safe to return. 
      • Valero asked if the housing authority has helped her and families in county instead. 
      •  Micari said residents should attend the Housing Authority meeting because they have their own Board.
    • Both items Approved
  • Board of Supervisors matters:
    • Shuklian
      • Last week she attended the Equal Opportunities Commission meeting. The Homeless Task force meeting will be rescheduled.
    • Valero
      • There are upcoming events for those affected by floods in Orosi and Woodlake. He thanked the county for their hard work.
    • Micari
      • Last week he went to the Emergency Operations Center to discuss resources. He encouraged residents to report damage.
    • Vander Poel
      • Last week he judged the Tulare County Spelling Bee.
      • Upcoming is the swearing-in of Kelly Vernon as the new Tulare County Probation Chief, First5 meeting, Kings Tulare Area Agency on Aging and a Tulare County Association of Governments meeting.
    • Townsend
      • Last week was a meeting of the Rural County Representatives of California and a Tulare County Water Commission meeting.
      • Upcoming is the Convoy of Hope in Springville, meeting with Leadership Porterville, swearing-in of Kelly Vernon, Tulare County AG Advisory Committee, prepping for the San Joaquin Regional Valley Council, Springville Sierra Rodeo dinner and a TCAG meeting.
  • Present a proclamation recognizing March 2023 as Red Cross Month in Tulare County.
    • Townsend presented the proclamation. Miguel Perez accepted the proclamation. Perez thanked volunteers and other community members who have helped. Perez took pictures with the board.
  • Presentation by Leadership Porterville Facilitator Virginia Gurrola regarding the 2023 Porterville Leadership class.
    • Virginia Gurrola explained Leadership Porterville. Individuals are selected to develop their leadership skills by networking. She invited the members to introduce themselves and tell where they work. The board took a photo with all the members.
  • (Approved) Consent Calendar (Items 6-28)
    • Some of the approved items included the approval of the entry fee waiver for the Kings/Tulare Area Agency on Aging, Senior Day in the Park event at Mooney Grove Park for the 51st Annual Senior Day in the Park Event on May 5, 2023 Item 11), an agreement with Tulare County Superintendent of Schools for Mobile Crisis Services for Children and Youth aged 21 and younger (Item 14), and the forgiveness of county loans to county Service Area Sewer and Water funds totaling $665,000 (Item 26)
    • (Approved) Item 24 was pulled for discussion. The remainder of the consent calendar was approved.
      • Item 24: Adopt the 2023 Tulare County Multi-Jurisdictional Local Hazard Mitigation Plan. Approve a Categorical Exemption, Find there is no substantial evidence that the proposed activity will have a significant effect on the environment and determine the Categorical Exemption is consistent with the CEQA Feasibility and Planning Studies and Section 15061(b)(3) general rule exemption. Direct the Environmental Assessment Officer of the Tulare County Resource Management Agency to file a Notice of Exemption with the Tulare County Clerk. Authorize the Resource Management Agency director to make appropriate technical revisions to the 2023 Tulare County Multi-Jurisdictional Local Hazard Mitigation Plan and associated project documents.
      • Aaron Bock, assistant director for planning and economic development for the county, explained the item as a response to comments from a letter by the Leadership Council. It contains new requirements to mitigate hazards, which will help with the Federal Emergency Management Agency review. 
      • Public Comments
        • Emma De La Rosa, regional policy manager of the Leadership Council, asked that the board delay the adoption of this item because it does not meet SB-379 residential solar system permitting requirements. She also asked that the emergency operations plan be made available online.
        • Luisa Quesada works with the Dolores Huerta Foundation. The Foundation does not want the board to approve the plan because of a lack of unincorporated community engagement.
        • Angel Reese said there needs to be more research on census tracts and does not want the item approved.
        • Leonard Oakens asked for help from the county with flooding. 
        • Maria Olivarro, a resident of Pixley, said they have a lot of contaminated water and chemicals. She does not want the board to pass the item. 
        • Olivera also said it is hard to drive in Pixley, and they are scared it will flood again.
      • Micari explained that this is not a law that they are passing. By not passing this item they would be holding up a big process.
      • Approved, with Valero voting no
  • Public Hearing: Request from the Resource Management Agency to approve a general plan amendment, Caldwell Corner, to change the county’s land use designation within the Urban Area Boundary (UAB) and Urban Development Boundary (UDB) of Visalia from “heavy industrial” to “service commercial” and change the land use designation from “Low-Medium Density” to “Service Commercial.” Adopt an ordinance amending the Tulare County Zoning Ordinance for a change of zone from AE-20 (Exclusive Agricultural Zone – 20 Acre Minimum) and C-1 (Neighborhood Commercial Zone) to C-3 (Service Commercial Zone). Adopt the findings of approval and approve a zone change. Find that this ordinance by statute can only be passed after notice and public hearing, so it is exempt from the usual requirements that an ordinance be read in full and adopted over two regular meetings.
    • Bock explained the item. Visalia was not able to attend because of flooding, and requested the item be moved to March 28. Public testimony from the applicant was heard during this meeting,
      • Chase Morgan, the applicant, was available for questions.
    • Public hearing for this item will be continued to March 28 at 9:30 a.m.
  • (Approved) Request from the County Administrative Office to receive the Mid-Year Budget Report for fiscal year 2022/23. Approve the proposed schedule for preparation and adoption of the fiscal year 2023/24 budget, which incorporates a rollover budget as the operating budget (including the capital projects budget) for the period between July 1, 2023, and adoption of the fiscal year 2023/24 budget. Approve the capital asset purchase list. Authorize the auditor/controller/treasurer-tax collector, with the concurrence of the county administrative officer, to process any budget adjustments proposed in the Mid-Year Budget Report.
    • County Administrative Officer Jason Britt presented the item. The budget is in alignment with fiscal sustainability.
    • Proposed state budget
      • $296.9 billion, decrease of $11 billion
        • General fund is $223.6 billion, the special fund is $70.4 billion, and the selected bond fund is $2.9 billion.
    • General fund budget is $1,050,753,369 and 81 percent of positions are filled.
      • Revenue is 1 percent  lower than last year, expenditures are 4 percent higher than last year, and general fund departments are within budget.
    • Britt asked the Board to recognize $4.5 million in unanticipated revenue from Prop 172 be designated for the Goshen Fire Station, the new morgue, and the Earlimart Sheriff substation. They recommend using unanticipated revenue from local sales tax and use tax revenue to be used for the construction of the Registrar of Voters remodel, Ledbetter Park Well, and the Mooney Grove Park dog park.
      • Vander Poel asked if these projects are expected to be finished this year. Britt said he thought so..
    • Most budget adjustment requests are the result of  inflation, particularly in utilities. 
    • The county’s long-term debt is $255 million.
    • Public comment
      • Emma De La Rosa said the public has requested input on the budget. She suggests there be meetings held in the morning and evening to allow for the public to provide feedback. She does not believe that the posting of the budget for 20 days is enough.
    • Approved
  • (Approved) Request from the Board of Supervisors’ staff to approve and adopt the proposed policy language regarding invocations at meetings of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, effective within 30 days of adoption.
    • Israel Sotelo, chief of staff, presented the item regarding rules for the waitlist of people leading the opening prayer during meetings. There is also a request to change the wording of “congregations” to “organizations”. The rules for determining the waitlist were not discussed.
      • Micari asked whether a person needs to be part of an organization or not because he wants the wording to be generic and open to everyone. Staff said this is why there is a change of wording request to be more inclusive.
      • Shuklian asked either an individual or an organization can present the prayer. Sotello said  individuals are allowed.
      • Townsend suggested the prayer be said before the flag salute and be limited to 1½ minutes.
      • Shuklian said she didn’t support the plan because it can make the public feel uncomfortable and has become cumbersome for staff.
    • Approved, with Shuklian voting no
  • Board matter requests
    • Micari asked to see what the county can do about abatement to hold private property owners accountable for creeks on their property.

Public Comment

  • Emily Burnias of the Western Regional Vietnam Wall Foundation in Dinuba spoke about veterans’ memorials. They received a letter from the County Counsel. She said she felt insulted that veterans are only allowed in the Veterans Memorial Building one time a month for two hours and must pay to host a function.
    • Ruth Padilla said there are many violations and would like the item to be added to the agenda.
    • Tamsen Wheatley is a volunteer for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. She said the memorial should have free access. 
  • Leonark Oakens, resident of Matheny Tract, asked for a sewer system there.
  • Britt introduced Kelly Vernon, the county’s new chief probation officer. 

The meeting adjourned to a closed session.

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