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Raging Waters: River Conservancy Board Sued Over Access Vote



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It was only a matter of time before the San Joaquin River Conservancy Board faced a lawsuit about where to build an access point to the river.

That time was 30 days.

Photo of GV Wire's David Taub

Politics 101

David Taub

In December 2017, the board voted to build at Spano Park, at the end of Palm Avenue at Nees Avenue. However, the board left a caveat that it could revisit the decision if “reasonable progress” had not been made.

And, on Feb. 27 of this year, the board concluded that “reasonable progress” at Spano Park was not met. Now the board is examining access through Riverview Drive along the bluff neighborhoods, just a short distance away.

“We think it’s bad for the community. We hope to get reasonable access back on track.” — John Kinsey, attorney for the San Joaquin River Access Corporation

The San Joaquin River Access Corporation and three individual plaintiffs sued the board in Fresno County Superior Court on Thursday.

“We think it’s bad for the community. We hope to get reasonable access back on track,” said John Kinsey, the attorney for the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit asks a judge to set aside last month’s decision. The plaintiffs contend reasonable progress has been made. The suit also asks for unspecified damages.

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The corporation owns land where the parking lot below Spano Park would be built. Kinsey would not reveal how much the group, made up of neighbors and other residents, has spent thus far.

The suit also names four individual board members as defendants, alleging that Santos Garcia, Julie Vance, John Donnelly, and Jennifer Lucchesi exhibited bias against the Spano Park option.

The river conservancy did not respond to requests for comment before publication.

The board is made up of 15 members from local and state agencies. Choosing where to build a formal access point in northwest Fresno to the San Joaquin River has stretched decades.

This story has been updated to reflect the meeting date of Feb  27.

Fresno City Council District 2 Update

Four candidates have officially filed in the 2020 race for the soon-to-be-vacant Fresno City Council District 2 seat.

The current occupant, Steve Brandau, is slated to resign by next week. His remaining six colleagues would then need to declare a special election, likely in August.

Portrait of Lawrence Garcia

Lawrence Garcia

Until then, if the special election hopefuls wanted to raise money, they would need to set up a recipient committee. But there has to be an election on the books — thus 2020 yes, 2019 not yet.

Jared Gordon filed his candidate’s forms Tuesday. He joins Mike Karbassi, Phil Arballo, and Lawrence Garcia in the race.

Mike Berg, who initially expressed interest, is out. He tells Politics 101 he wants to stick to his day job as an educational consultant.

Karbassi, owner of Persian Rug Collections, held a fundraiser Wednesday at the Elbow Room. Arballo, a financial planner, will hold an event Saturday night at Tamaria Robatayaki & Whisky Bar. [Update 3/29/2019: Arballo announce he postponed his fundraiser because of a family emergency.]

Garcia owns AmeriGuard Security Services. He has a fundraiser planned, but no date set yet.

Gordon, an attorney, has nothing publicly listed.

Brandau’s Last Day

Brandau submitted his resignation letter on March 25. His last day as a city councilman is Friday, April 5 at 5 p.m.

The council next week will vote to declare a special election, with a tentative date of Aug. 13, and a runoff, if necessary, on Nov. 5.

His colleagues are giving him humorous exit presents.


David Taub has spent most of his career in journalism behind the scenes working as a TV assignment editor and radio producer. For more than a decade, he has worked in the Fresno market with such stops at KSEE-24, KMJ and Power Talk 96.7. Taub also worked the production and support side of some of TV sports biggest events including the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and NASCAR to name a few. Taub graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email