June 27, 2023
Another fight is brewing over Friant Ranch
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Quote of the Week
“We have a shortage of dedicated and sustained funding for infrastructure in this city. That is our roads, our sidewalks, our curbs and our gutters. In fact, we are about $1.2 billion behind when you add all of those infrastructure needs up in our city.”
– Jerry Dyer, following the approval of Fresno’s record-breaking $1.87 billion budget that eventually will include rate hikes for trash collection.
This Week in Fresnoland
Fight over ‘sprawl project’ near Fresno is heating up once again over traffic, air pollution.
An environmental analysis concluded that Friant Ranch won’t impact public health in Fresno. Critics say that’s bogus.
According to the analysis, Friant Ranch, a new city by Millerton Lake that’s been promised since the 90s, won’t generate excess pollution for Fresno because 80% of car trips caused by the development will be less than three miles. “This is a sprawl project. This assumption doesn’t make sense,” Dog Carstens, the partner, said in this Fresnoland article by Gregory Weaver. He called the environmental review “woefully deficient.”
Industry standard computer models showed that the community’s traffic impacts would be much greater than the developer’s estimates, according to City Manager Georgeanne White. Even if the estimates are on the money, Fresno’s lifetime cancer risk will still increase by 17.5 in one million, close to the 20 in one million threshold that would require new mitigation measures under state law.
The review includes a new water deal that saw no public comment from either the public or water agencies. The California Supreme Court did not mandate a reanalysis of water impacts, so the county declined to. White pointed to the ambiguity of the water deal and suggested that it could leave Friant Ranch residents vulnerable to water shortages in the future.
If you want to make your voice heard on this issue you can email public comment letters to David Randall, a county official. Fresnoland
Fresno’s new budget extends the city’s eviction protection program, beefs up street repairs, and provides free bus rides for older residents, among other key programs.
Fresno’s $1.87 billion budget funds the police to the tune of millions – but we get lots of money for the streets too.
While Omar Shaikh Rashad’s (Fresnoland) story has an informative bulleted list, I’ll just share a few highlights. The city’s budget sets aside $6.97 million for repaving and repairing our streets, $2 million to keep the Eviction Protection Plan going, a small business grant for more surveillance, and millions to hire even more police officers – about 25 more for a total of 900. As of today 845 have been sworn in.
In decidedly gayer news, there’s a $100,000 grant for local queer nonprofits as well as the allocation of an LGBTQ+ Liaison under the Community Affairs Team.
Pleased to see such an investment in LGBTQ+ relations with the city. After all, wasn’t it just last December that Councilmember Garry Bredefeld wrote about LGBT efforts to “sexualize our children?” And didn’t he make a speech in the chambers so egregiously transphobic that more than half the council left the room? Hope he’s having a great day.
In a related story, a $250 million investment in downtown Fresno over three years made it back into Gavin Newsom’s budget. Fresnoland
Fresno hasn’t charged residents late fees on their utility bills since the COVID-19 pandemic.
The late fees are back, baby!
Garbage! It has a late fee now. Water too. In another story from Omar, Fresno residents will need to pay late fees on utilities for the first time in three years. They were put on pause during the pandemic but, to paraphrase the queen Tiffany “New York” Pollard, they’re finna press play in a [redacted] millisecond.
The late fees should return mid-July, and the city anticipates making an additional $1 million in annual revenue as a result – and note that this isn’t a polite request, they will absolutely shut the water off if they don’t receive their payment after two months.
There’s still the option of payment plans along with discounts for low-income and elderly residents. I’ve got links if you need more information from the City of Fresno. You can call them up at 559-621-6888. Fresnoland
A story that might ruin your appetite
Tim Sheehan has an exhaustive report on restaurant closures due to unsafe food handling practices, on top of the horrifically bad smells from the drains.
Do you never want to eat again?
Might I recommend the tale of Baja Fresh and Subway Sandwich at the Chase Valero travel stop on Highway 198 and Interstate 5 – they closed because they couldn’t keep their food at the correct temperatures. The story goes on to detail several closures throughout Fresno County and explain the Food Facility Inspection Report process from the Department of Public Health. The Fresno Bee
The record-breaking snowpack revived a waterway that connects the San Joaquin Valley to the Bay Area
This KVPR audio story details a 225-mile kayaking trek from Tulare Lake to the Sacramento San-Joaquin River Delta via the Kings and San Joaquin Rivers.
The freelance journalist consulted experts from Bakersfield who underwent the journey 40 years ago, the last time the waterway was restored.
And, in a detail I love, this journalist has to delicately recount how he just kind of ignored the “road closed” signs all around Tulare Lake. It’s cool, a sheriff’s deputy was there taking selfies and didn’t really care. KVPR
Outside the lines. Jackie Schuster has a guide to find public pools throughout Fresno County – important now that we’re in the triple digit heat era again.
The state of California has its own looming budget deadline, with the point of contention being an overhaul on the permit process for major water and clean energy infrastructure projects.
Rayne-Fisher Quann has compiled a multimedia playlist of ennui, emptiness and pain – suffering mix.
TARPEY VILLAGE: Nubchi Thao, known for the Brioche Lady Bakery, is opening a new Asian grocery at the southwest corner of Ashlan and Clovis. Fresno Bee
SOUTH FRESNO: Javence Pizzeria, known for its carne asada pizza, is closing for good today. Fresno Bee
FRESNO CITY COLLEGE: The community college’s new West Fresno Center, an $86.5 million project funded through bond measures and a grant, will soon open. It was deliberately planned for Fresno’s westside, an area that has historically lacked educational investment. Fresno Bee
FRESNO YOSEMITE NATIONAL AIRPORT: In more budget news, the Fresno City Council set aside $40,000 to restore Clement REnzi’s A Day in the Parks sculpture, which will be installed at the airport. YourCentralValley
Department of New Construction
CALWA: A conditional use permit was filed for the conversion of 19 hotel rooms into 12 apartment units. The property is located south of East Jensen Bypass Ave and west of South Cedar Ave.
DOWNTOWN: A development permit proposing to reopen the portion of Mariposa Mall between M and N Streets to a roadway with angled parking is currently marked as “rejected.”
FRESNO HIGH: A conditional use permit was filed on behalf of Sweet Flower, a retail cannabis business. Sweet Flower is proposing to operate out of the commercial property on the southwest corner of East Shields Ave and North Maroa Ave.
A “Stop the Hate” townhall in Reedley will address the tools, resources and local agencies needed to combat hate crimes. Swing by Friday at 5:45 p.m. Facebook
Remember to tip the queens at the Gays in the Garden event at Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company this Friday at 7 p.m. Downtown Fresno
Fresno PARCS hosts a Family Movie Night at Frank H. Ball Park from 5 – 10 p.m. That’s on Wednesday. Visit Fresno County
Next Week in Public Meetings
Tuesday, June 27 at 4 p.m. | Chowchilla City Council
Tuesday, June 27 at 5:30 p.m. | Fresno Housing Joint Board
Tuesday, June 27 at 6 p.m. | Lindsay City Council
Tuesday, June 27 at 6:30 p.m. | Exeter City Council
Tuesday, June 27 at 7 p.m. | Reedley City Council
Thursday, June 29 at 9 a.m. Fresno City Council
Monday, July 3 at 7.pm. | Visalia City Council