March 13, 2023 — Clovis City Council

Documented by Rachel Youdelman

At Monday’s Clovis City Council meeting several members of the public advocated for and against keeping backyard hens and a resident criticized Council member Diane Pearce for objecting to the word “equity,” saying her behavior was “racist.” Credit: Heather Halsey Martinez / Fresnoland

What happened: At Monday night’s Clovis City Council meeting several members of the public advocated for and against the legalization of keeping backyard hens.

Five commenters spoke about the subject of allowing residents to keep backyard chickens, which is not permitted. The subject had arisen after the outset of the pandemic lockdown and at the July 20, 2020 meeting, the council voted 3-2 to postpone the matter for a year; a year later the subject was dismissed.

Angela Bates and her husband, Garan Bates, were among the three commenters who spoke in favor of allowing backyard chickens. “You guys are destroying what Clovis is,” Garan Bates said. “Give us a little city farmland back…let us have our chickens.”

Chip Wipfler and June Vehn spoke against allowing backyard chickens. Vehn said she would be “living in a chicken coop” if all her neighbors kept chickens and that the council should conduct an “environmental impact study” regarding the potential effects of backyard hens.

Mayor Pro Tem Vong Mouanoutou confirmed with City Manager John Holt that Mayor Lynn Ashbeck, who was absent from the meeting, would need to request the subject to be added to the agenda for formal consideration. Holt reminded everyone what the previous meetings’ outcome had been, and asked one of the commenters to ask Ashbeck about putting the item back on the agenda for consideration.

And also: A resident also criticized Council member Diane Pearce for her objection to the word “equity” at the Feb. 21 meeting and called her behavior “racist.”

Crystal Reed, who described herself as a lifelong Clovis resident and an Old Town businessperson said she had a “big issue” with Pearce’s “actions of racism.” Reed said she was referring to a previous meeting during which Pearce said that “equality is racism.”

Pearce actually said that the word “equity” was “socialist” and objected to not having had ”sign-off” on a proclamation honoring the African-American Historical and Cultural Museum in Fresno, despite the fact that no council members are given the opportunity to review the wording of proclamations.

Reed said that Pearce was offered training by the California League of Cities but rejected it, because she “didn’t have time.” She also commented that Pearce had lived in Clovis only four years and as a new council member had already missed several meetings.

“She has blown up what Clovis has worked for,” said Reed about Pearce, concluding, “Councilwoman, I’m coming for you.”

Up next: The Clovis City Council will hold a joint meeting with the Planning Commission at 6 p.m. on March 20.

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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...