June 6, 2023 — Fresno County Board of Supervisors

Documented by Rachel Youdelman

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The board adopted a resolution supporting the California State Association of Counties (CSAC)’s AT HOME Plan to address homelessness throughout California in a statewide, integrated, systematic manner.
  • The board voted to donate about 20 county-owned trailers to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that serve homeless people, to be used as temporary housing.
  • Supervisor Pacheco commended the work done by Supervisors Brandau and Magsig on the ARPA committee in rejecting for lack of documentation a Bitwise application for funding; the city of Fresno did allocate ARPA funding to them, and have recently taken steps to claw it back after its financial challenges have come to light. 
  • Members of the labor union SEIU2015, the in-home supportive services (IHSS) workers organization, were present to plead for a salary increase, as they have been for months.


Brian Pacheco, 1st District

Steve Brandau, 2nd District

Sal Quintero, 3rd District, chair

Buddy Mendes, 4th District

Nathan Magsig, 5th District, vice-chair


Daniel C. Cederborg, county counsel

Bernice E. Seidel, clerk of the Board of Supervisors

Paul Nerland, county administrative officer (CAO)

The Scene

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors held its first meeting of the month on June 6 at 9:30 a.m. Chairman Quintero opened the meeting promptly and asked Clerk Seidel to call the roll; all board members were present. Quintero introduced Sheriff John Zanoni, rather than the usual evangelical pastor, to give the invocation. “Heavenly Father,” said Zanoni, “bless the proceedings,” continuing, “Father, I pray that decisions made are just.” He mentioned “compassion, justice, love of service” and concluded “in Jesus’ name.” He made the sign of the cross. The flag salute followed immediately. Quintero remarked that both he and Zanoni attended, at different times, San Joaquin Memorial High School, and “if they taught one thing, it was how to pray,” adding that “you did a good job.”

The meeting lasted about two hours.

Meetings are open to the public and are held at the Fresno County Hall of Records, 2281 Tulare St., Room 301. Public comments on matters on or off the agenda are welcomed. If you plan to make a comment in person on an item not on the agenda, note that this portion of the meeting is always last on the agenda. Each agenda item is otherwise accorded time for live public comment as they are introduced. Meetings are live streamed; agendas, live stream and meeting video may be accessed here. The next meeting is scheduled for June 20 at 9:30 a.m.

Each supervisor represents one of five districts. Who is your county supervisor? Find out here.

To contact your supervisor about any issues or agenda items for a particular meeting, call or email with your opinion or question:

·   Pacheco District 1 District1@fresnocountyca.gov (559) 600-1000

·   Brandau District 2  District2@fresnocountyca.gov (559) 600-2000

·   Quintero District 3 District3@fresnocountyca.gov (559) 600-3000

·   Mendes District 4 District4@fresnocountyca.gov (559) 600-4000

·   Magsig District 5 District5@fresnocountyca.gov,  (559) 600-5000

Agenda Item 1 The board approved the day’s agenda with a 5-0 vote.

Agenda Item 2, Consent Agenda Items 17-46 The board approved the consent agenda 5-0, except for items 33 and 43. Seidel said that item 33 (concerning a contract for hazardous waste disposal) would be continued to the June 30 meeting, and that item 43 (concerning the fiscal year 2021-2022 transportation mitigation fee report) would return at a date uncertain. The “consent agenda” is composed of items considered routine or administrative, grouped together and decided with a single vote.

Agenda Item 3 A retirement plaque was presented to Cindy Chacon, who worked for the Department of Social Services for 25 years. Chacon’s supervisors, Delvin Baker and Kathleen Miller, praised her work, including that with foster youth. Chacon was able, she said, to “go and grow” within the department; while working full time, she was able to earn her bachelor’s degree and receive multiple promotions. About the children she worked with, Chacon noted that “kids,” from whom she learned terms such as “hey, bro,” “woke” and the like, “want someone to hear them.” Everyone posed for a group photo.

Agenda Item 4 The board recognized Public Information Officer Sonja Dosti, District Attorney Public Information Officer Taylor P. Long and Communications & Media Production Specialist Joshua Dean, who won awards from the California Association of Public Information Officials (CAPIO), for their work on a fentanyl awareness campaign. CAO Nerland said that District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp was the “leader” in the campaign, which was “making a difference.” The supervisors all had good things to say about the public information staff; Pacheco noted that aside from this campaign, “they have to defend us,” and, addressing Brandau, “with you, it’s a full-time job!”

Chief Probation Officer Kirk Haynes was present to say that after screenings of the documentary film made by the staff, applications to the juvenile justice division increased, a welcome event, since the vacancy rate was 30%, he said. Dosti said it was “hard to be here without our fearless leader, Lisa Smittcamp” (Nerland said Smittcamp was attending a funeral) and thanked the board and other county departments with whom they collaborated. Outcome was the “greatest reward,” she said, noting that fentanyl deaths decreased from 170 in 2021 to 96 in 2022. Nerland gave them the awards, and everyone posed for a group photo.

Agenda Item 5 The board unanimously voted to adopt a resolution supporting the California State Association of Counties (CSAC)’s AT HOME Plan to address homelessness throughout California in an integrated, systematic manner statewide. Nerland introduced Graham Knaus, CSAC’s executive director, who gave an overview of the plan, which was launched in mid-March this year.

“AT HOME” is an acronym for “accountability, transparency, housing, outreach, mitigation, economic opportunity.” Knaus explained these “6 pillars” of the plan. He said that until now, there was no unified statewide system to address homelessness and that, despite dozens of homelessness programs, none of them are integrated, and they represent different levels of government without clear roles. State funding, said Knaus, has no relationship to what goes on locally, because it is not a part of a total system. “That will change,” Knaus noted and directed the board to the CSAC website, where all details are available.

Knaus is soliciting support from California’s counties and is also engaged in “active conversations” with the governor’s office and with the “big 13” mayors. The state Legislature has adopted “placeholder” language, said Knaus. Seminars have been conducted with the League of California Cities, as their support is sought, though they are not yet part of the coalition, he said. However, Knaus noted that he “suspected that cities and counties will stand together.”

Though Knaus spoke at a brisk pace, he was succinct, direct and persuasive. A discussion ensued, and board members asked questions and commented generally with enthusiasm. Magsig said he appreciated the plan and pointed out that “homelessness is dynamic”—individuals’ circumstances and consequent needs can fluctuate, and we need to hear from individuals; he was “very excited” to support the resolution. Mendes, holding two pencils, said to Knaus, “I was there when we hired you,” adding that he “couldn’t ask for better leadership.” Brandau was “skeptical of government pulling stuff like this off,” though he “loved the presentation.” Later he said he was “hopeful at this point,” but he “gets nervous” when people “run out” and say they are going to solve homelessness, and he hears from “people who question where the money goes.” Despite his qualms, he voted in favor of the proposal. Quintero said the proposal would be a “big tool in the toolbox.” Pacheco was quiet.

Nerland introduced Deputy CAO Amina Flores Becker, who reiterated some of what Knaus had outlined but in a condensed format printed on a flyer, available as a PDF on the CSAC website. She explained how programs align with the “6 pillars” and said that they also align with and will “enhance” current county efforts. Brandau asked her how things were going with the Fresno city leadership; Becker said that there are monthly recurring meetings with the city and that the relationship was “growing and evolving.”

Public comment was opened on the matter. Just one person spoke: Brandi Nuse-Villegas, a local advocate for the homeless who is frequently present to comment before the board, said that “transparency is crucial,” and agreed with “Nathan” (Magsig) about hearing from individuals. Nuse-Villegas wore a “Fresno United for Rent Control” T-shirt. She said that there was a need for setting protocol when someone is dismissed from a shelter; she cited a case in which a woman on oxygen was turned away from a shelter.

Agenda Item 6 The board voted unanimously to donate about 20 county-owned trailers to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that serve homeless people, to be used as housing. CAO Nerland again introduced Amina Flores Becker to explain the status of the trailers, which have been the subject of controversy after the ARPA money originally allocated for making the trailers available for temporary housing for homeless individuals was reallocated for the kitchen remodeling of Poverello House, which provides daily on- and off-site meals to a variety of people in need. Homeless activists were upset about the reallocation and advocated for their originally planned use.

Becker reviewed the history of the acquisition of the trailers and said that seven of them are now used as emergency housing at these community-based organizations (CBOs): Fresno Mission, RH Community Builders (Elevate Community Services) and Poverello House; 17 are now being used as emergency shelter for evacuated residents suffering from flooding or expected flooding. Becker said that the trailers would be available in mid-August when flooding was no longer a threat. The trailers would be donated to CBOs that provide supportive and housing services to unhoused people.

According to the agenda packet, a total of 23 county-owned trailers will be donated: four to Elevate Community Services, four to Poverello House and 15 to Fresno Mission Foundation. 

There was some discussion about the title to the trailers; Magsig said the city of Fresno never transferred the title but that he appreciated the partnership. It’s “better when we work together.” Without being specific, he said that unfounded accusations make him “reel.” Mendes grinned and said that the title to the trailers was not with the city but with the state. Becker said that the title transfer was finalized as of Monday. Brandau wanted to know if the county will retain title — Becker said title will transfer to the CBOs who take the trailers.

Public comment was opened on the matter. Nuse-Villegas spoke again: the trailers should go to meet the needs of homeless people. No other comments were made.

Agenda Item 7 The board approved 5-0 a first hearing to amend the fee schedule for specific internal county services, such as motor pool rental rate, building maintenance and janitorial labor, etc. Robert Bash, director of Internal Services, made a brief presentation. There was no discussion.

Agenda Item 8 The board approved 5-0 a first hearing to amend the fee schedule for internal information technology services, such as copying, graphics labor and IT labor. Bash made a brief presentation. There was no discussion.

Agenda Item 9 The board voted unanimously to approve the hiring of four retirees for part-time work in the Department of Social Services. A vote was necessary to urgently circumvent a rule that precludes hiring back retirees until a period of 180 days has passed. Director of DSS, Sanja Bugay, explained that the department is transitioning to a new computer system and will also be training a staff of 1,800 to use the new system, so temporary staff are needed for between three and six months. A little discussion followed; Mendes wanted to know “how’d this rule [the 180-day waiting period] get put in place,” and Nerland said it was a state law enacted in 2012; its purpose was to limit retirees from going back to their former jobs.

Agenda Item 10, Supervisor Reports and Comments

Brandau said he had no comments.

Pacheco said that he didn’t usually comment during this portion of the meeting, but without being explicit, said that he wanted to talk about “events of the last 10 days” and take the opportunity to defend and thank Brandau and Magsig for their work on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) committee. Addressing them, he said that he complimented “you two” for their efforts and that “you walked the walk and did the work,” vetting which community groups were eligible to receive funds. He added, again without identifying any organization, “that entity” had been vetted and “thrown out” for lack of documentation, adding that “colleagues across the street” [Fresno City Council] nevertheless “threw rocks.” A call to Pacheco’s office for more information was not returned, but the remark was very likely made about the recent collapse of the local business Bitwise, which received some ARPA funding from the city of Fresno’s allocation, and now that the business has failed, the city wants the money back. “They gave a million dollars away that we did not,” Pacheco added.

Magsig said that regarding Bitwise, he encouraged Nerland to “reach out to the city” to offer job search services for the furloughed staff, among which there are many talented people, he said. He then told a story about attending a Behavioral Health Department event that highlighted the “compelling” story of a woman who had successfully recovered from drug addiction; he commended DSS and Behavioral Health staff and their programs for helping her recover.

Mendes said that local rivers were not causing flooding and that he felt some snow above 10,000 feet would “stay another year,” so “people need to calm down.”

Quintero said he wanted to follow up on Pacheco’s remarks; some local boards and committees, such as the Workforce Development Connection, were available to assist laid-off Bitwise employees, he said.

Brandau said he wanted to say something after all: regarding the rejection of the Bitwise application for the county’s ARPA funds, he commended the CAO’s staff who worked full-time on processing applications “behind the scenes.” Pacheco also acknowledged Nerland and his staff and remarked to Brandau that “you’ll take the heat if things go bad; the board gets the blame.” Brandau answered, “Right on.” Mendes, grinning, said “he could add something, but no use piling on.” Nerland mentioned a job fair organized for former Bitwise employees and noted that he would “look at other options to help them.”

Agenda Item 11, Board Appointments Magsig made one; Pacheco also made one.

Agenda Item 12, Public Comments about matters not on the agenda Three people from the labor union SEIU2015, the in-home supportive services (IHSS) workers organization, were present to plead for a salary increase. One man brought his disabled daughter with him; he said “homelessness starts at home” and explained that he was a graduate of Firebaugh High School and that though he had been a welder for 22 years, he now was a full-time caregiver for his daughter and his chronically ill wife. He said that even coffee shop workers in San Francisco make $25 an hour. Even a $5 increase over two years would help, he said. “Keep us from becoming homeless,” he said.

Agenda Items 13-16 Closed session; items included labor negotiation, existing litigation, exposure to litigation and initiation of litigation. No report would be made from this session, per County Counsel Daniel Cederborg. The public portion of the meeting adjourned at 11:20 a.m.

If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at fresnodocs@fresnoland.org with “Correction Request” in the subject line.

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