A new four-story hotel is planned for downtown Fresno on a long-empty dirt lot between the New Exhibit Hall and the Saroyan Theatre.

Metro Hospitality Services, Inc., wants to purchase the 0.74 acre parcel at Inyo and M streets for $644,688 (or $20 a square foot).

The Fowler-based company proposes to operate a 200-room hotel as a Hilton or a Marriot.

The Fresno City Council will vote on the proposal during Thursday’s meeting.

Dump This

The council will introduce an ordinance to help combat illegal dumping. Calls for service are expected to reach 5,000 this fiscal year. Fines would increase to $1,000 for the first offense (up from $500); $1,500 for a second (up from $1,000); and $3,000 for a third.

Also, the city would be able to impound the vehicle of the illegal dumper. Code enforcement will utilize cameras in known illegal dumping areas.

Also On the Agenda

The city council will vote on spending $990,191 more on the Southeast Surface Water Treatment Facility. The money would be used for a security system. If approved, all the add-ons would increase the project 2.3% over the initial costs of $158 million. W.M. Lyles Company is the contractor.

The city attempted to subcontract the security system earlier this year. However, staff reports indicate there were problems with all three companies that submitted a bid. Two companies were missing documents. The report called the third company “non-responsive due to unauthorized signature of their bid.” Now, staff is asking the security system to be incorporated into a change order.

 Councilmembers will vote to give more power to the city manager by increasing the amount the city’s top administrator can authorize for designated settlements. Currently, the city manager can approve some worker’s compensation and property reimbursement cases for up to $100,000. Any amount above that requires council approval. If the motion passes, the authority to settle would increase to $150,000.

Fixing the bathrooms at Cary Park south of Fashion Fair is moving at the speed of government. Council will decide to reject the one bid that came in at $391,000 or 49% more than what city staff wanted to spend. According to staff reports, they hope to re-bid and get things fixed by next April.

The city hopes to upgrade the lights on Bulldog Lane near the Fresno State campus, and none of the $175,000 will come directly from city coffers. The project will be funded by the university  ($150,000) and Measure C money ($50,000).

The airport department is asking council for $78,748 to hire a consultant, InterVISTAS Consulting, Inc. of Washington, DC, to conduct a needs study. Passenger growth has increased 34% since 2010.

“The Study will examine the state of ground transportation services, facilities and infrastructure currently in place at FAT, and develop recommendations that will enable FAT to provide the full range of ground transportation services and alternatives as well as ensure safety, security and efficiency,” according to a staff report.

Last July, the council hired another contractor, John C. Martin Associates, to conduct an economic impact study of the airport. The cost: $82,000.

Apparently, airlines don’t like dealing in cash. In response, the airport would like to add (with council approval) two kiosks provided by Ready Credit Corporation that would convert cash into a pre-paid Visa or MasterCard. The fee for customers: $5 a card. The city’s expected revenue is $1,200 a year.

Police Board Meets

Mayor Lee Brand’s Citizens’ Public Safety Advisory Board met at City Hall Tuesday (Dec. 5). The meeting was not open to the public and no agenda was published.

The group is charged with advising the city’s independent police auditor and monitoring police performance. According to its by-laws, the board is supposed to prepare quarterly reports and recommendations for the police auditor.

Former Sanger Mayor’s Possible Conflict

Corin Hoggard of ABC 30 reports that former Sanger Mayor Joshua Mitchell is being investigated by the state for conflict of interest during his votes before he resigned in 2015. At the time, Mitchell said it was “his political enemies were threatening and harassing him” that led him to leave.

According to Hoggard, the Fair Political Practices Commission found probable cause (see page 12) that Mitchell voted on a housing development that his landscaping company did work for.

His total penalties could reach $30,000.

Governor Appoints Two Fresnans to State Boards

Gov. Jerry Brown announced this week two appointments to state boards.

Dora Westerlund will serve on the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Investment Board. She is currently CEO of the Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation. Her other distinctions include the 2017 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award, and board positions with the Big Fresno Fair and Fresno State Foundation.

Westerlund, a Republican, is married to Larry Westerlund, a former Fresno city councilman who is the city Fresno’s economic development director.

Brown also reappointed Larry Serpa to the Big Fresno Fair board, a position he’s held since 2005. When he’s not eating cotton candy or riding roller coasters, Serpa works as a farmer and real estate broker. He is a Republican.

Neither position requires senate confirmation nor receives compensation.

Bon Voyage, Tom Uribes

Tom Uribes, the longtime spokesman for Fresno State, is retiring. The school threw a party for him last week attended by many community members

Former TV anchors Faith Sidlow and Jon Brent expressed their appreciation for Uribes’ ability to help them out with a story, even if it was at the last minute. Students praised Uribes for helping them prepare for media interviews.

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