March 14, 2023 — Fresno County Board of Supervisors

Documented by Rachel Youdelman

Following a staff presentation on SB1383 organic waste recycling requirements, Fresno County Supervisor Buddy Mendes shouted profanities and said it was, “like being sent to a god—- re-education camp.”

What happened: Public Works staff gave a presentation to update the board on the implementation of SB1383, the Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction law, which requires separation of organic waste, such as food waste, so it won’t go to landfills.

As staff prepared to show slides, Supervisor Buddy Mendes remarked, “This is the garbage army?” After a few minutes, Mendes shouted, “This is like being in a god— re-education camp!” He continued that if he were chairman, “I’d a told you to stop talking!” “They can shove it up their a—! That’s bull—! That’s horse—! This whole thing is bull—!”

Though the Public Works staff had shocked expressions on their faces, no one, including Chairman Sal Quintero, admonished Mendes for his behavior. Instead he said with a smile, “We appreciate the comments,” but that staff was doing their best to comply with the law.

Supervisor Brian Pacheco then said “We don’t mean to shoot the messenger.” Then he complained about the law, which passed in 2016 and has gone into effect incrementally. He could not find “a correlation between trash and food security.” He mentioned visiting a “massive landfill” and how impressed he was with its size, but he didn’t connect the need to stop adding organic waste to it, which is the purpose of the law and which was just “another regulation we’ll have to comply with.”

Supervisor Steve Brandau said it was “fighting thousands of years of human nature.” One of the Public Works staff called the law “an unfunded mandate.” Mendes grinned and said, “Sorry about shootin’ the messenger.”

Supervisor Nathan Magsig asked if there were fines for not meeting goals of the law. Staff said, yes there were.

And also: The board approved 5-0 consideration of the use of land-secured bond financing, under the Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982, to fund construction of residential projects in an unincorporated area.

The item was on the agenda at the request of Jeff Roberts of the Assemi Real Estate development company. He said that this type of financing had not been looked at in 26 years and that he hoped it would move forward so he could bring a proposal to the board.

The reason for the request was CSA34, the Millerton Specific Plan; deficient infrastructure needs upgrading, and Roberts said he wants to seek reimbursement via the Mello-Roos Act.

Pacheco said County Service Areas (CSAs) want the board to “solve their problems.” He said they should form their own Community Service Districts (CSDs) and “control their own destiny.”

Brandau asked County Administrative Officer Paul Nerland to confirm that this was not about a particular project, but was “a tool, right?” Nerland said, “Absolutely, yes,” and that the policy amendment would allow for future projects.

Mendes asked if this decision was “a procedural deal,” and if today’s steps were approved, would it come back to the board for the next steps. He was told that yes it would come back to the board, most likely more than once.

Up next: The Fresno County Board of Supervisors are scheduled to meet again on March 28.

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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...