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Dyer Explores Options on City’s Tower Theatre Purchase

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Mayor Jerry Dyer is looking at his options to veto the Tower Theatre purchase. (GV Wire/David Taub)
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Despite being told by the city attorney that his options are limited, Mayor Jerry Dyer is looking into what authority he has over the Fresno City Council’s vote to purchase the Tower Theatre.

“I don’t support indemnification at all. I think it assumes far too much potential liability for the city. Also, my concern has been with the purchase price.” — Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer

Dyer says will meet with the city attorney and city manager to see if, indeed, he has the power to block the transaction.

Of the five parts in the agreement passed by the city council, Dyer may only veto the resolution on how to use the theater once purchased, according to the city attorney’s interpretation of veto rules.

The city attorney’s office is under the city council, which can hire and fire the position with a majority vote.

Dyer said it is “premature to have that discussion publicly” whether he would issue a veto over the city attorney’s interpretation.

A Tower Theatre postcard. (GV Wire/Jahz Tello)

City Votes to Buy Theater

With a 4-3 vote last week, the city council approved buying the theater and adjacent properties for $6.5 million, $1.5 million above the appraisal price.  The council also agreed to take over litigation faced by the owners of the Tower Theatre and Sequoia Brewing Company.

“I don’t support indemnification at all. I think it assumes far too much potential liability for the city. Also, my concern has been with the purchase price,” Dyer said.

The theater owners are defending a lawsuit by Adventure Church. The church attempted to buy the theater in 2020 and argues its contract is still valid. The city disagrees.

The escrow period for the city’s purchase of the theatre is 45 days.

What the City Charter Says

Under the city charter, the mayor may not use a veto on land use decisions. It was the result of a 1993 vote by Fresno citizens to switch to a strong-mayor format.

Section 605(c) of the city charter describes what a mayor cannot veto.

Regarding land use, the charter says the veto shall not extend to:

  • Certain land use decisions including; the amendment of specific plans, community plans, and general plans; rezonings; conditional use permits or other special use permits approved by Council after consideration by the Planning Commission;”
  • Any other land use action, other than text amendments to the Fresno Municipal Code, and whether legislative or quasi-judicial in nature, in which the matter has been considered at a public hearing before the City Council and Planning Commission.

The exact definition of “other land use” could be a matter for interpretation. So could whether indemnification falls under land use.

“That’s the overall challenge with our charter, that there’s enough vagueness in there that interpretations are sometimes simply that, interpretations. I would like to see a more black and white charter that clearly delineates authorities and much better than what the current charter does,” Dyer said.

City Attorney Douglas Sloan did not respond to an email request for comment.

The mayor has 10 days to veto from the time he receives a council resolution from the city clerk. A veto on the Tower Theatre purchase must be returned by May 2.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email