The Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved a land-use designation change in Visalia to allow a commercial project to move forward, which will include a gas station, restaurants, internal parking and office pads.

March 28, 2023 — Tulare County Board of Supervisors

Documented by Dani Huerta

Here’s what you need to know

  • At the March 28 Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting, Fire Chief Charlie Norman gave an update regarding flooding. They have made over 170 water rescues and delivered 40,000 tons of sand. Norman said he does not know where the greatest impacts will be because it is hard to predict. CAO Jason Britt said there is no reimbursement for landowners to protect their private land.
  • A land-use designation was changed in Visalia to allow a project to move forward. This project will include a gas station, restaurants, internal parking and office pads. Paul Bernal, Visalia director of community development, wanted more thorough analysis of the project. The applicant, Chase Morgan, said they followed the process of the memorandum of understanding and is willing to work with the city to follow its guidelines. The item was ultimately approved after a closed session. 
  • A budget adjustment of $8 million for ongoing flood disaster response was approved. This item was added as an urgency item and was not part of the originally published agenda.

Follow up Questions

  • How will the county work with cities better in the future so that discrepancies between the city and the county like the one with item 8 does not happen in the future?
  • What can the county do to get internet access to residents of Alpaugh and Allensworth so that their concerns are heard?

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 28, 2023. The meeting began with the pledge of allegiance and a moment of silence. 


  • Board of Supervisors matters
    • Vander Poel
      • Upcoming is a Tulare Kiwanis Club luncheon. 
      • He thanked Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, Tulare County Fire and other organizations for their help with their support of Allensworth.
    • Shuklian
      • Last week she went to the super sacks filling, the speaker engagement series at College of the Sequoias for National Women’s Month, Family Services guest chef serie and made a video with Mayor Brian Poochigan about flooding, 
      • Upcoming is a Property Owners Association meeting, she will be speaking to a political science class and attending the ribbon cutting of Common Heart Coffee. 
    • Valero
      • Last week was a Tulare County Regional Transportation Authority meeting, Kings River East GSA Board meeting, Love Inc. Banquet gave an update on storm damage and reopening plans for national parks, Kiwanis Club of Woodlake cleaned the cemetery, attended the Dinuba crab feed, the reopening of the Woodlake Community Senior Center  and the Tulare Kings Hispanic Foundation Women Recognition Awards.
      • He thanked Convoy of Hope, Niagara bottling and other organizations that have helped with water distribution to East Orosi. 
      • Upcoming is a meeting with United Way, a Tulare County Regional Transit Authority meeting and the annual Water Education for Latina Leaders in Los Angeles.
    • Micari
      • He thanked emergency services and first responders for their support with the storm damage.
      • Last week was an inland trade port meeting, Health and Human Services Agency staff meeting, East Kaweah GSA, Porterville Exchange Club awards, retirement for Denise Ybarra, meeting with Proteus, a spring cleaning event, the Eagles rib cook-off, Strathmore Spartans football hall of fame dinner and Lindsay Foothill Rotary for the Global Empowerment Mission. 
    • Townsend
      • Last week was the Porterville Exchange Club dinner. 
      • He thanked Waste Management for their help with storm cleanup. 
      • Upcoming is the San Joaquin Valley Regional Policy Council trip to Sacramento, ribbon cutting of Christen’s Tonsorial Parlor and he will be MC’ing Burton School District’s Boots and Bling event. 
  • Presented a proclamation recognizing Jennah Creason for her title as a U.S.A. Boxing National Champion.
    • Shuklian presented the proclamation to Creason, who has a 4.0 GPA and trains in seven martial arts. Creason thanked the board for its support. 
  • Recognized Dr. Karen Haught upon her retirement from the Health and Human Services Agency for her many years of service with the county.
    • Haught began her career in the county in 2002 and provided a big help during the pandemic in 2020. Townsend presented the certificate of recognition and the board thanked her. Haught thanked the County for the opportunity to support the community. 
  • Recognized Angela Rose upon her retirement from the County Counsel’s office for her many years of service.
    • Rose served in many positions including fiscal manager. Jennifer Flores, county counsel, thanked Rose, who has served for 33 years. Townsend presented the certificate of recognition and the board thanked her. 
  • Received a presentation from the Tulare County Economic Development Corp. regarding a fiscal year 2022-23 organizational update.
    • Airica de Oliveira, President of Tulare County Economic Development Corp. gave the presentation.They are a non-profit working to increase job creation and economic growth. Some mid-year updates are hosting strategic planning meetings and producing a Tulare County relocation guide.They attended the World AG Expo and Sequoia Regional Economic Summit. 
  • Received an update from Norman on the status of response efforts regarding the March 2023 flood.
    • They have had over 170 water rescues and 40,000 tons of sand delivered. Eighty people were assigned to this incident. Branches 1 and 2 have been receiving super sacks. Branch 3 has received temporary fixes. Branch 7 has had two floods, and water rescues were made. Branch 9 has concerns along Kings River.
    • They are predicting a lot of work in May and June along Kings River. 
    • Valero asked where the greatest impacts will be. Norman said he doesn’t know because it is very hard to predict.
    • Vander Poel asked if there is funding for landowner resources. Norman said there is no money for preventive maintenance.
    • Micari asked where the strike teams will be located. Norman said they are where the biggest need is.
    • County Administrative Officer Jason Britt said there is no reimbursement for landowners to protect their private land.
  • (Approved) Consent Calendar (Items 9-23)
    • Some of the approved items included the approval of the capital asset purchase of a Microwave Link for the Farmersville Health Clinic (item 16), a Memorandum of Understanding with Visalia Unified School District to provide adult educational services at the Probation Connections Center (item 17) and modifications to the Jackass Mail Run to be held in April in Porterville and Springville annually (item 20).
    • There was an addendum to item 9 (consent calendar number one) that was previously voted on, but not read aloud. Prior to the addendum, item 9 reads “Reappoint Michele Eaton to the Seat 8 – Family Seat, on the Tulare County Mental Health Board for a term ending Dec. 31, 2025”.
  • (Approved) Continued Public Hearing: Approve 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 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, as set forth in Planning Commission Resolution No. 10044, and approve the 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. Adopt the Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration consistent with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the State CEQA Guidelines.
    • Aaron Bock, assistant director with the Resource Management Agency, introduced the item. There are three gas stations within a two-mile radius. The developer offers a gas station, restaurants, internal parking and office pads. 
    • Vander Poel asked about city standards. Bock said it is built to city standards, not county standards, 
    • They will change the underlying Heavy Industrial to Low Medium Density land uses to Service Commercial. 
    • Shuklian asked about office land use. Bock said office space is allowed but they need the item to be approved to have other buildings such as the gas station. 
    • Public Comment
      • Brett Taylor, Visalia City Council member, opposed the project because it does not mention repairing the road. He believes the road is unrepairable and does not think the project is built to road standards. He wants more land for housing. 
      • Paul Bernal, Visalia director of community development, wanted a more thorough analysis of the project.
        • Shuklian asked about road improvement near affordable housing units. Bernal said they are improving along Lover’s Lane and Caldwell. 
      • Chase Morgan, applicant of the project, said they followed the process of the memorandum of understanding (MOU).
        • Shuklian asked his thoughts about the roads. Morgan said he plans to make the project attractive and would improve the street if it is required by the city.
    • Shuklian asked about other applications of tier 3 in the county currently. Bock said there are none now. She asked if heavy industrial projects could be built in the heavy industrial section. Bock said they would need to rezone it. 
    • Valero asked why the city did not proceed 10 years ago when asked by the applicant. Bernal said the city was unable to intake tier 3 properties at the time. 
    • Micari requested the item be discussed in closed session. 
    • When the board returned to closed session, Vander Poel said he appreciates the applicant for their willingness to work with the city. 
    • Approved
  • Received a presentation by the fire chief from the Tulare County Fire Department regarding an update on the department.
    • There are 127 full-time staff, 27 fire stations and a $30 million budget. Most of the 15,100 calls were for emergency medical services. Fleet efficiency has improved 10% and vehicle extraction deployment time for vehicle entrapments improved 25%. 
    • Chief Jeff Smith, training division chief, spoke about training. The department provided 31,235 hours of training. Some training focuses are ladder truck operations, incident management and professional development. 
    • Chief Kevin Riggi, prevention division, spoke about prevention division staffing and focus. Some focuses are public education and outreach, hazard abatement and firework safety. 
    • Funded wildlife mitigation projects are Mineral King and North Fork. Some challenges are increased volume and complexity and unfunded mandates
    • Some recent successes are most equipment on fire apparatus is battery powered instead of gas powered, a new dispatch center, and two completed community wildfire protection programs.
  • (Approved) Urgency item 1: Find by at least a 4/5ths vote that there is a need to take immediate action on adding to today’s board agenda the budget adjustment for the fire department regarding ongoing flood disaster response, and that the need for action came to the attention of the county after the posting of today’s board meeting agenda.
  • (Approved) Urgency item 2: Approve the budget adjustment per the attached AUD 308 (4/5ths vote required) in the amount of $8 million  for ongoing flood disaster response.
  • Board matter requests
    • Vander Poel asked RMA to bring forward their plan to help residents of Alpaugh and Allensworth.
    • Shuklian asked staff to follow AB-742 that would restrict the use of canines for law enforcement. 

Public Comment

  • Angel, resident of District 2, feels like the county is not doing enough for Alpaugh. He appreciates the hard work but he thinks the county could be doing more. He said there are not many people from Alpaugh and Allensworth to speak because they do not have internet access. He thinks things will get worse.
    • Micari asked Norman to speak with Angel to ask what more they can do to support these communities.

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