Financial backers are coming forward to support and oppose Measure P with the early filings showing parks supporters writing big checks.
The municipal ballot initiative calls for a 3/8 of a cent sales tax for parks and related programs in the city of Fresno that would generate about $38 million annually for 30 years.
“We desperately need to invest in our parks again. The benefits derived will be for the whole community,” said Paul Gibson, whose donations, as well as those from entities affiliated with him, totaled nearly $64,000. “My wallet is connected to my brain. It makes no sense to let the parks deteriorate further.”
The pro-parks effort also has attracted three other major donations: Virginia Eaton ($25,000), Coke Hallowell ($10,000), and Jolene Telles ($10,000).
Gibson once operated Guarantee Real Estate. Eaton is his mother-in-law.
The opposition is officially organized under the banner of Fresnans for a Safer Community, No on P. Ruth Evans serves as principal on the committee.
No on P has reported one contribution thus far, $5,000 from Ginder Real Estate.
“While I support our parks and we need more parks in Fresno, public safety is a huge issue,” said Evans, who runs her own human resources company. “We need a tax for public safety for more police, fire, and equipment. We need a tax that takes care of both needs.”
When all is said and done, it wouldn’t be surprising to see both sides combine to spend as much as $750,000 on the ballot measure.
Council Rejects Historic Building Status, Changes No-Camping Ordinance
The Fresno City Council delayed decisions on signing a contract with Pepsi, which would pay the city $20,000 a year for exclusive non-alcoholic pouring rights and sponsorship at the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center.
The city manager’s office asked for a one-week delay, without providing a reason, at the start of Thursday’s (Sept. 20) meeting.
— The council declined to support a staff decision to designate a building at PG&E’s Herndon substation as historic.
The city wanted to place the 1930s-era Art Deco style building at 7430 N. Weber Ave. on the Local Register of Historic Resources. The power company balked, noting the building hasn’t been used for decades and isn’t accessible to the public.
Councilman Steve Brandau, who represents the district 2 where the building is located, proposed a motion to accept the city’s proposal. He said there is a lack of historic sites in his part of town. But, when no other colleague seconded the motion, it died.
The city became involved when PG&E applied for a permit to demolish the building. A company representative told the council that PG&E withdrew the request the day before the meeting.
A PG&E spokesman said Friday the company is considering its next step on the future of the building.
— The city cleaned up language in its anti-homeless camping ordinance. Prompted by a recent U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, the council voted 5-1 to make it clear that the city may only enforce the ordinance “if a bed is available at a shelter or other facility.”
The appeals court recently ruled that a similar anti-camping ordinance in Boise, Idaho, violated the Constitution.
— ABC 30’s Gene Haagenson reported that the council also asked the city manager to look into building a 200-bed homeless shelter.