It is another week of stacked agendas for Fresno’s Planning Commission and City Council. Some items to note:

Planning Commission (Wednesday 6p, Council Chambers at City Hall)

The Planning Commission meets Wednesday with four interesting items on its agenda. It is scheduled to approve a large mixed-use project in southwest Fresno; and consider changing regulations for recycling facilities, stores that sell alcohol and the much-anticipated ban on recreational marijuana facilities.

-City staff is recommending the Planning Commission to approve a 115-acre mixed-use project at the northwest corner of Jensen & Martin Luther King. The lot, across the street from Gaston Middle School, would need to be annexed into the city. The plan calls for a mix of residential, commercial and public use. The applicant is Sylvesta Hall of Blue Ocean Development.  Inside the staff reports, it indicates some of the property could be used for a 26-acre community college.

Recycling Re-zone

After complaints at recycling centers (officially called California Redemption Value or CRV centers), the commission will consider modifying where they can be located within the city. The proposal (from staff reports) includes:

  1. Restrict (CRV establishments) to industrial zone districts and within the permitted footprint of a business subject to California Public Resources Code section 14571.6.
  2. Increase the separation requirement between CRV Recycling Centers and residential uses, parks, schools, other CRV Recycling Centers and existing Recycling Processing Facilities that accepts CRV material.
  3. Remove all references to temporary structures given that as proposed the use may now only be established within a permanent building.
  4. Require compliance for existing CRV Recycling Centers. If located in a permanent structure, the operator will have a one year grace period from the effective date of the ordinance to comply with the proposed text amendment. If located in a temporary structure, the operator will have a six month grace period from the effective date of the ordinance to comply with the proposed text amendment.  The operator must file a new entitlement application (Conditional Use Permit) to lawfully operate after the grace period.

The ordinance would require CRV centers be one mile away from residential homes (up from 75 feet) and two miles away from a school or park (up from a half mile).

In a letter to the city, James Nachbaur, chief of the state’s Division of Recycling warns that if Fresno imposes tighter restrictions, the “city may no longer be eligible for in the future” from a state recycling program. That amounted to $330,000 in 2016. Nachbaur is concerned that the restrictions would prevent at least one recycling center at a supermarket from operating.

The California Grocers Association has also filed a letter of concern. A consultant says such restrictions would cause the loss of 100 jobs.

Alcohol Sales

The commission will hear a proposal to impose additional restriction on off-site consumption stores, or places like liquor stores and small shops. The rules would apply to stores less than 10,000 square feet. The seven changes proposes are (from city staff reports):

  1. Proposes to require that a separate alcohol conditional use permit (ABC CUP) be filed for the off-sale of alcohol, rather than bundling the alcohol use permit with another use permit or a development permit for a new building or building additions.
  2. Proposes to give new ABC CUP requests a 5 year life (1 year for the first ABC CUP requested at a location or for a new applicant), after which an applicant must file for a renewal.
  3. Proposes to require that existing establishments that currently sell alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption to file for a new ABC CUP application after either 2, 3 or 4 years from the date of the adoption of this ordinance, depending on when the original ABC CUP was first obtained.
  4. Proposes to limit the number of ABC CUPs within each Council District.
  5. Proposes to require that establishments seeking a new ABC CUP obtain an alcohol license that is transferred from another establishment located within the City.
  6. Proposes to restrict the display of alcoholic beverages or freestanding advertising structures within 10-feet of the customer entrance.
  7. Proposes to exempt craft beer from the limitation on “single sales”
  8. Proposes to exempt wholesalers for the entire section with the exception of the requirement to not distribute certain sizes of alcoholic containers to retailers.

The city says there are 383 off-sale licenses in the city, with a plurality (92) in District 7 in central Fresno. The proposed language would also require stores that sell alcohol be at least 1,000 feet away from another such store. Currently, the limit is 500 feet.

Marijuana Ban

The Commission will take the first step to ban marijuana dispensaries, prohibit marijuana use in public and ban commercial marijuana operations within city limits (marijuana lab testing would be exempt).
The resolution would next head to the Airport Land Use Commission on August 7.

City council (Thursday, 8:30a, Council Chambers at City Hall)

The much talked-about proposal by Councilman Dr. Garry Bredefeld (District 6) to allow city employees to carry concealed weapons will be for discussion only (no vote). The Fresno Bee reports the plan has drawn rebuke from Police Chief Jerry Dyer and Mayor Lee Brand, who’s vowed to veto the plan if it passes. Brand claims in the Bee that he has “taken a gun with him to public events ‘and one or two times to City Hall’ because his higher visibility provides a greater potential to be targeted for threats.”

The discussion is scheduled for 10 a.m.

Other actions:

Marijuana Vote, Take 2

Bredefeld will try one more time for the council to change city ordinance on personal marijuana cultivation to comply with state laws. Initially passed in June, the required second vote failed 3-3 on July 20. That was because of the absence of Councilman Paul Caprioglio, who supported the ordinance June 22. The agenda, though, lists that Caprigolio will not be in attendance in person at this meeting as well (he is listed as possibly calling in from Montana, which he is allowed to do to vote).

After that second vote failed, Council President Clint Olivier gloated on Twitter of its failure, leading to a flame war between him and Bredefeld.

Another New Planning Commissioner

The council will be asked to appoint Peter Vang to the Planning Commission. Vang, a financial planner, would replace Pao Yang, who the council approved of on June 15. For more on why Mayor Lee Brand had to go back to the drawing board, click here.

No to SB 35

Vote to oppose a state bill, SB 35, the “Housing Accountability and Affordability Act.”  It requires each planning agency in the state to report its number of net new units of housing, both rental and owner-designated. If, according to the regional housing needs assessment conducted by the Department of Housing and Community Development, a certain planning agency did not see enough new construction in their jurisdiction during a four-year cycle, new developments in that jurisdiction will be subject to streamlining and will only have to complete a “ministerial” process to build, rather than the usual permitting process.

Manager’s Raise

Approve a contract with the city’s management class (most will receive a 2% raise)

Campaign Limits Raise

Officially raise campaign contribution limits to $4,400 per individual (up from $4,200) and $8,800 for a small contributor committee (up from $8,500). This applies to city races (mayor and city council) only.

Overnight Parking

Fix a loophole in an ordinance passed in January preventing RVs and trailers (longer than 18 feet) parking on city streets more than 24 hours. The ordinance will be toughened to prevent trailers that need to be hitched to be parked on the street as well.


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