April 5, 2023 — Madera City Council

Documented by Ramiro Merino

 Here’s what you need to know

  • The council voted tentatively to award $981,730 in CDBG funds to local projects plus $242,761.46 to Capital/Public Improvement Projects.
  • The projected cost for the emergency repairs to the Avenue 13 sewer system at Granada Drive is at $2.7 million. 

Follow-up questions

  • Will there be public comment on how the funds from the National Opioid Settlements with Teva, Allergan, Walmart, Walgreens and CVS will be used? 
  • What is the next step for the businesses after the appeals for the city’s cannabis program are addressed/resolved? 


Actions/Discussions/Public comment

  • Mayor Santos Garcia called the meeting to order at 6:02 p.m. Council member Elsa Mejia was not present at the start of the meeting. 
  • The invocation was led by council member Anita Evans. 
  • During public comment, a resident asked if the council would consider charging less for booking a park since it looks like the city will charge them 75% of what they are expected to make. This is a fundraising event for the youth. 
  • Arturo Martinez Jr. stated he will be filling in for Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Merced, and provided business cards to the council.
  • The council voted unanimously to approve the consent calendar as presented.
    • Minutes – Feb. 1  and Feb. 8
    • Informational report on register of audited demands
    • Second reading and adoption of an ordinance updating prima facie speed limits on designated city streets
    • Designation of applicant’s agents for federal disaster assistance and grant assistance
    • Consideration of a request by Filogonio Santiago and Isabel Perez for connection to the city’s water system
    • Letter of support for Valley Children’s Hospital
    • California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) Tire Amnesty Grant Application
  • There was a public hearing on the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) 2023-2024 Annual Action Plan Funding Allocation
    • City staff said “On Feb. 27, 2023, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the 2023-2024 CDBG funding allocations. As an entitlement jurisdiction, the city’s 2023-24 CDBG funding allocation is $981,730. On March 20, the Council approved reallocating funds previously awarded to Community Action Partnership of Madera County (CAPMC) related to the 2020-21 Rapid Rehousing Program.”
    • Staff with the CDBG funds said “We are very pleased to fund capital funding programs. Never able to meet public funding requests. At least one to two review meetings. Ask questions, verify receipts.”
    • Resident Yolanda Prieti stated that when she became a widow two years ago, she was looking for an outlet, but it was during the pandemic. She wanted to do more than be a loyal babysitter. She joined the Madera Senior Center, which offers arts and crafts, games, field trips and going to the movies. “Please continue the program so people like me can have something to do.”
  • Frank Ortiz, a resident for the past 20-plus years, said he also volunteers at the senior center. “It’s a wonderful place for retirees to go. On a daily basis, there are new people attending. Some of them get encouraged by their families and friends to leave the house. There are lots of benefits that people don’t realize. They get to socialize with people of similar age. Please continue to provide for us, we appreciate it.” 
  • April Molina with the Olive Charitable Organization said “Our building is not donated, we have a lease with Alicia Bennett; that’s why it’s called the Bennett House. We pay $15,000 per year for rent. This was a professional building but got it changed to a residential building so people can live there.” Olive opts to use legal substances such as nicotine without THC to assist survivors of trauma with their anxiety. These items are paid for by donors and were never submitted to the CDBG grant program for reimbursement. For example, a program participant’s parent died and they wanted to have their hair done for the funeral. If they do not receive CDBG funding, they will be forced to close the Fresno House. “We wanted to come and clear things up,” Molina said.
  • An extra bank statement was mistakenly submitted along with the application for the CDBG funds, which indicated money used on items not approved by the CDBG. The CDBG staff said they realized that the bank statement was not relevant to the application and also recommended that the City Council consider funding the Olive Charitable Organization at the amount they requested. 
  • A staff person with the Promotora Program said “We concur with the council’s recommendation to fund the youth program. It is a navigator that works with a particular community to get resources at a grassroots level. A pressing need, whether to serve as an ambassador to the monolingual, low income patients.”
  • Olga with the Madera Senior Center said “We have served senior citizens for over four decades. We are aging and living longer. We want to feed seniors.” It was mentioned that the next generation of seniors wants to live active lives so they want to invest in the program to add to the quality of life. 
  • Alex Salazar with the Madera Association of Realtors said “The original proposal was for $50,000, which was Intended to be used for first-time homebuyers and to encourage homeownership in the community. This will help 10 families out.” 
  • Alicia Brown with Projet Run Madera said “Our goal is to provide equitable access to our student athletes. We provide running shoes, sports bras, shirts and shorts. We served 400 student athletes. The budget did not allow me to buy the boys shorts this year. It makes for an incredible feeling to receive shoes because they were running with shoes with holes in them.” Council member Artemio Villegas asked how much money they were asking for. “This year we are looking at $23,000 as our budget.” Villegas said he would like to support the program as he is a runner himself. 
  • Council member Cecilia Gallegos said “We wish we had more money to fund everyone.” 
  • Garcia clarified to Molina with the Olive Charitable Organization that CDBG funds can only be used for programs in Madera. 
  • Council member Jose Rodriguez said he works with real estate agents and borrowers and asked if this is a conflict of interest regarding funding the Madera Association of Realtors. City Attorney Hilda Cantú Montoy said that if any commission or committee members think they have a conflict of interest, they need to bring it up before the start of the meeting.
  • The council unanimously voted to approve the tentative allocations for the CDBG 2023-24 action plan in the amount of $981,730 plus the reallocation of $242,761.46 to the Capital Projects/Public Improvements.
    • Garcia said the list is tentative and there will be another meeting to go over the allocations at a future meeting. 
  • There was a hearing on the Initiation of proceedings for the annexation of the 22-S-02/TSM 2017-02 subdivision into Community Facilities District No. 2005-1
    • Planning Manager Gary Conte said the proposed project is for 19 single-family homes. The city would generate $9,963.79 per year ($524.41 per home/per year). “Thank you for what you do for the community. I am hoping you can approve this item so we can move forward with the next phase.” 
    • There was no public comment. 
    • The council voted unanimously to approve. 
  • There was a hearing on the Repeal of Outdated Section 10-3.419 of the Madera municipal code, telecommunications towers, antennas and structures 
    • There was no public comment. 
    • The council voted unanimously to approve. 
  • There was a hearing on The Arc Fresno/Madera Counties Project General Plan Amendment (GPA 2022-03), prezone, (REZ 2022-02), annexation (ANX 2022-03) and negative declaration 
  • Planning Manager Gary Conte said “The Arc development site requires a GPA to facilitate appropriating prezoning one additional parcel at the school site. None of the comments received by any agency identified that the project would result in any significant impacts.” 
  • There was no public comment on this item. 
  • The council voted unanimously to approve. 
  • Submittal of a grant application to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) for the purchase of a new type 1 fire engine
    • Police officer said “With the amount of money we have right now we would also get Measure K funds to help cover the cost of the engine.”
    • There was no public comment on this item. 
    • The council voted unanimously to approve. 
  • Amendment to city manager at-will employment agreement
    • “The city manager’s salary will be increased by a 2% cost-of-living increase (COLA) effective Dec. 31, 2023, and a 2% COLA effective June 17, 2023. The city manager will receive a one-time lump sum payment of $1,500 on the first paycheck in July 2023.” 
    • There was no public comment. 
    • The council voted unanimously to approve. 
  • Approval of additional national opioid settlements with Teva, Allergan, Walmart, Walgreens and CVS
    • City Manager Arnoldo Rodiguez said “This is to join in a settlement agreement. The 2021 settlement agreement required a critical mass of public agencies to participate for it to become effective, which was achieved in 2022. As part of these settlements, the city received $69,000. The current settlement agreement is with Teva, Allergan, Walmart, Walgreens and CVS. By default, the settlement funds are allocated to Madera County, however the city may elect to receive direct payment.”
    • There was no public comment. 
    • The council voted unanimously to approve. 
  • Informational report on the city’s cannabis program
    • Three appeals were received in January prior to the appeal deadline. All three appeals were standard applicants. The appeal process must be exhausted before the Phase III meetings can occur.  During Phase III, residents will be notified of the community meetings by mail within a 300-foot radius of each proposed cannabis business. 
    • Rodriguez asked if a schedule can be provided for this. Montoy said the city will know within a week. “We are working on the appeals.” 
  • Rental Housing Inspection Program update
    • Claudia said that some units are subject to routine periodic inspections by another government agency, where rental housing units are inspected at least once every three years to address substandard building violations.
    • Within the past 10 years, either (they) have been issued a certificate of occupancy or have passed final inspection by the city. The city has 569 rental properties that are registered as exempt.
    • Montes asked, “How many units are in the city that would qualify for inspections?” Claudia said there are about 5,200 properties that are not owner occupied. There might be 2,000 that need to get registered.” 
    • There was no public comment on this item. 
  • Emergency repairs to Avenue 13 sewer trunk main at Granada Drive – Update 5
    • City Engineer Ellen Bitter said “The original collapse occurred on January 2nd at Pecan Avenue and Granada Drive. The failed 42-inch sewer pipeline has been replaced. We replaced the 150 feet of failing 27-inch pipe in Pecan with a 30-inch pipe. We finished five manhole structures including protective coating. We removed shields and backfilled all excavations. The wet subgrade was addressed by over excavating the roadway and placing additional base rock and a geotextile grid. Final stripping will take place by Friday, April 14th.”
    • The Granada Drive pavement will be addressed with future CIP pavement project funding. The projected costs are approaching $2.7 million. The budget amendment is expected for the April 19 meeting. 
    • Gallegos said “Thank you, the residents are going to be happy this street will be opening soon. Can we write thank-you cards to the workers? I know they got paid but still, they acted fast on this.” 
  • Council reports were provided
    • Gallegos said, “Shout-out to PD, what a great Easter egg hunt for the community. Thank you to the planning commissioners for attending the conference. Thank you to our staff for making sure Zoom works for our meetings. Relay for Life is coming. Keep an eye out for our city parks, and if anything needs to be replaced, please let us know.” 
    • Rodriguez had no comments.
    • Councilmember Steve Montes said “Thank you to the Little League for inviting us. Can we get an update on our PLH activities?”
    • Evans said “Thank you, Keith, for the new stop sign. Thank you to the engineering department. This is desperately needed. I attended the Cesar Chavez event. Artemio and I went to Washington, D.C., and I kept texting Ronaldo if we had something similar happening already or grants we could apply to.”
    • Mejia said “We see ourselves reflected in Benito Juarez. Thank you to the health clinic that served more than 70 residents. Joana who interpreted at the event is here. Thank you to our small businesses for donating, Jill and Jill and El Patron. I heard Dolores Huerta speak. We were pinned, so I am now a Wallow, to continue advocating water for residents for Madera.”
    • Villegas said “Anita Evans and I went to Washington, D.C. for the housing conference. In this presentation I learned that he went to college, applied for scholarships. He wrote a book about the different events in his life. He grew up under the poverty level. This Sunday was the soccer tournament. I was invited to the open ceremony.”
    • Garcia said “We were invited to the Little League game. Assemblywoman Esmeralda Soria purposefully did the event at the municipal golf course. I attended the Cesar Chavez Day event at the Matilda Torres High School. I was introduced to the Madera County health mobiles and learned about the mobile vans that go to the community to do health checks like blood pressure, check for diabetes and provide Covid vaccine shots. Lastly, I attended a class last night on suicide prevention. We learned how to apply narcan.” 
  • There was no closed session. 
  • With no further discussion, Garcia adjourned the meeting at 9:20 p.m. 

Conversation highlight

  • “We wish we had more money to fund everyone,” said Madera Council member Cecelia Gallegos

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